She’s Doing It: Tiffany Dufu Leads the White House Project Forward

by Gloria Feldt on November 9th, 2011
in Create a Movement, Inspiration, Leadership, No Excuses, Politics, Power Tools, She's Doing It, Workplace and tagged , , , , , , , ,

Tiffany Dufu

This week’s “She’s Doing It” features a first person account of how a woman I very much admire came into leadership and stepped into her power as naturally as rivers flow from their source, despite some negative messages she received as a girl. Tiffany Dufu is a role model and example of how younger women are moving the leadership needle forward for themselves and others. Read on. And if you’re one of the over 13,000 who has had an experience with The White House Project thus far, won’t you share it here?

It all started when I got the Girl of the Year Award.

Growing up in the Pacific Northwest as the daughter of a homemaker and minister, I remember adults around me insisting: “little girls can’t lead.” Yet taking the award into my hands that day, I realized how eager I was to make a profound impact. I had a deep desire to not only affect change, but also be public about it so that other girls would see that they could be leaders, too.

I know this history of mine has led me to my current position at The White House Project, an organization that ignites leadership in women in business and politics.

As president, I work with individuals across the country to ensure that the leadership pipeline is filled with talented, skilled, innovative leaders for the next generation.

Of course, everyone knows we have a miles-long laundry list of challenges for today and tomorrow. Fortunately, we are equipped with exceptional individuals who assess how to best approach these challenges. What they’ve found, time and time again, is that diverse leading bodies—specifically, with women in the group—are more adept at solving problems than homogenous ones.

The internet (and my inbox!) is filled with proof that women’s leadership is not the only way, but is one definite way to get to a better future; studies from McKinsey, Ernst & Young, and cited in Bloomberg Business and the Harvard Business Review support this. It’s why I make connections with amazing women such as Gloria Feldt, who recognizes the value of propelling women to the top. It’s why I attended the first-ever Google Women’s Leadership Summit in Palo Alto earlier this year, and why I jumped at the opportunity to address the cadets at West Point in celebration of Women’s Equality Day in August. It’s why I am honored to be featured here and make a connection with you, the reader, and why The White House Project works so hard to keep in touch with the 13,000+ businesswomen and public sector-leaders who make up our alumnae.

Lisa Kassenaar, Stephanie Ruhle, Gloria Steinem and Tiffany Dufu taping a Bloomberg interview.Staying connected with these amazing women, supporting each other, and encouraging further leadership is what keeps us all going.

This year alone, we’ve equipped more than 1,100 women with the tools, resources, and networks to lead. In Denver and Chicago, our Go Run training weekends convened women from 25 different states, resulting in an expanded network that will leverage the power of motivated leaders across the country. The participants, who reflect a wide range of backgrounds, concerns, and geographic locations, built their skills and plotted next steps toward increasing the impact they have on their communities. Nearly 100% of the women who attend our trainings take at least one concrete step in their leadership within a year of our training.

We don’t create the leadership spark in women, but we sure do ignite it.

Our next chapter in leadership development is our corporate leadership program, designed to hone and strengthen the skills of early-career women. Set to launch in January, this program focuses on women under 35, a direct response to those who have expressed the most interest in our training (nearly 70% of our alumnae fall into this category). Early-career years, when a young woman begins to make plans for her future, are a critical but often overlooked window of time for leadership development. We want women to be well-equipped and knowledgeable about their options. We want them to choose leadership.

Over the years, The White House Project has achieved an expertise and a clear understanding of the leadership assets women need to be successful. We work to increase the number of women that have these competencies, and utilize social networks and online tools to leverage their collective impact. Our Facebook, Twitter, and blog keep us connected with our alumnae, and keep them supporting each other. Resources such as these, and Gloria’s incredible insights and tools, help us breeze through the doors that have been opened, and they help us bring our sisters, mothers, and daughters, too.

Enjoy this first segment of The Gloria Feldt Show Podcast featuring Tiffany Dufu and Jennifer Lawless.

As President of The White House Project, Ms. Dufu has forged new partnerships, has strengthened the Corporate Council, and has refined the organization’s strategy. Having now raised nearly $20 million toward the cause of women and girls, she has been featured in The Seattle Times, The New York Times, and NPR, and is a frequent speaker on women’s leadership and nonprofit fundraising. She currently serves on the board of Harlem 4 Kids, is a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc., and holds a B.A. and M.A. in English and a Certificate in Fundraising Management from the University of Washington.


Gloria Feldt

Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

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