When a diverse group of trailblazers and activists joins forces in the heart of New York City to promote equality, big things are bound to happen. But when those changemakers take the time to break down tough issues of the day for the next generation, a movement begins. Role models are installed. And a pipeline is created.

Ellevate Network understands the importance of mentorship and early activism, and at their second Annual #MobilizeWomen Summit they encouraged a luminary panel of speakers — astronauts, veterans, CEOs, activists, Olympians and more — to answer questions backstage on behalf of today’s girls.

So, to the moms, big sisters, rockstar neighbors and coolest aunts already familiar with Ellevate’s Action Guide and networking Squads…please pass this on to the younger set. Here are 5 things today’s changemakers want your girls to know right now:


“I want to encourage girls, more than anything, to read books by authors different from themselves and to watch shows with different characters. Expose yourself to a different narrative — one that is authentic to you. Then, be an advocate for someone else. It’s hard — but necessary.” Kristy Wallace, CEO Ellevate Network

“I want every little girl to know…you can be successful, sit up here on a panel…and look like yourself.” “Middle school is hard. It can be an uncomfortable time in a girl’s life. Know that you are talented, capable and that you are enough just as you are.” Joy Fitzgerald, CDO, Eli Lilly and Company

“We are raising girls in a brand new world that doesn’t always feel safe. I want to tell young girls to listen to their gut…be smart, know yourself and choose not to be intimidated.” Ellen McGirt, Senior Editor, Fortune Magazine

“Calibrate to your own strengths. Lean in to what feels natural to you. Engage your vision of leadership…not what you think ‘leaders’ look like.” Neha Gandhi, Editor-in-Chief and COO, Girlboss


“If you don’t make yourself heard, no one will make the change you seek. It may seem daunting — like these gates we cannot penetrate — but speak up and be heard.” Julie Kearney, VP of Regulatory Affairs and CTA & President, FCBA

“Even though it’s hard or scary, speak up anyway. Find people who believe what you believe, and collaborate with them. Even if you don’t feel like you can make a difference, don’t stop. Push forward.” KR Liu, U.S. Congressional Awarded Hearing Loss Advocate

“For girls who want to raise awareness, give facts and numbers instead of just emotion. This doesn’t mean bottle up your feelings…but back them up with facts.” Adrianne Haslet, Boston Marathon Survivor, Ballroom Dancer, Blade Runner, Global Activist for Amputee Rights

“Embrace your own voice. Then recognize the sheer power of it. Think about what makes you angry or makes you cry…then use your voice to do something about it.” Debra Messing, Actress and Activist


“What should we be doing for girls? Empowering them through conversation. The media infantilizes women and girls in terms of money…we have to disrupt this. At Ellevest we started #DisruptMoney, and I’d encourage girls to follow this mentality — don’t allow yourself to be infantilized. Talk about money and empower yourself.” Sallie Krawcheck, Chair Ellevate Network and Co-Founder and CEO, Ellevest

“Girls need to understand money in a tangible way. Set real goals related to your own passions.Ruthie Ackerman, Deputy Editor, Women@Forbes

“Girls need financial security and should set goals related to that. Financial failures need to be discussed too — not just the successes!” Asha Castleberry, U.S. National Security Expert, Military Veteran


“Every week I have ups and downs — embrace it. When you have high expectations and do a lot, it won’t be perfect all the time. It’s ok. Turn surviving into thriving.” Maureen Sullivan, COO, Rent the Runway

“Setbacks are opportunities for us to create strength where there wasn’t that strength before.” Carly Patterson, U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist, Gymnastics

“Sometimes it’s enough just to try. Not even to try your best…just try. Some days that’s enough. Love yourself enough to just try.” Jenn Romolini, Fmr. Chief Content Officer, shondaland.com


“Find a mentor. I got into journalism because of a teacher in a high school speech class! If there is a teacher you respect and trust, seek them out. Then work really hard for them.” Alina Cho, Contributor, CBS Sunday Morning

“Work really hard for whoever you want to meet and impress. Build the goodwill, be ultra-prepared and make your mentors proud.” Kemp Steib, CFO, The Second Shift

“[My mentor] provided two things that were critical in starting my career: advice and access, and I always try my best to pay that forward as a mentor to others.” Kellie Gerardi, Aerospace and Defense Professional, STEM Communicator, Defense Council Member, Truman National Security Project

“If you love what you’re doing, stick with it and work hard. Keep your drive…and beat the boys while you’re at it!” Anjali Forber-Pratt, Paralympic Medalist and Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt

Girls…there is power in a pipeline and value in your voice. Wise advice from women at the top of their game is priceless— and worth sharing. Spread the word and create a network of your own to solve problems or attack injustice. And when you feel that change is impossible, reread the quotes above. These women are talking to you. They believe in you.

Because they know that when we mobilize women, we motivate girls.

So, go ahead — get started. And if you need one mic drop takeaway to turn into your new screensaver, listen to Activist and Emmy Award Winning Journalist Catt Sadler when she says: “Ask yourself…do you bet on yourself? The answer is YES.”

Ellevate Network’s Mobilizing the Power of Women Summit brought together an intentionally diverse and committed group of people to take action towards equality. Inspired? Ready to act? Download the Mobilize Women Action Guide here and subscribe to the Ellevate newsletter. Être was proud to be a Summit Media Partner.

Originally published at medium.com


  • Illana Raia

    Founder & CEO


    Recently named one of the first 250 entrepreneurs on the Forbes Next 1000 List, Illana Raia is the founder and CEO of Être - a mentorship platform for girls. Believing that mentors matter as early as middle school, Illana brings girls directly into companies they select to meet female leaders face to face. The goal, as Être's French name suggests, is to help today's girls figure out who they want to be.    Named a Mogul Influencer in 2017, Illana appeared in the HuffPost "Talk To Me" video series, participated in the 2018 Balance Project Interviews and the 2019 #WomenWhoRock campaign, and has been featured on Cheddar TV and podcasts like The Other 50%, Her Money, Finding Brave and Women To Watch. Illana has authored 50+ articles for Thrive Global, HuffPost and Ms. Magazine, and her award-winning book Être: Girls, Who Do You Want To Be was released on Day of the Girl 2019. Her next book, The Epic Mentor Guide, is scheduled to arrive on International Women's Day 2022.   Prior to launching Être in 2016, Illana was a corporate attorney at Skadden, Arps in NYC and an occasional guest lecturer at Columbia University. She graduated from Smith College and the University of Chicago Law School, and remains unapologetically nerdy.