Katlyn Grasso is the founder and CEO of the organization, GenHERation. Grasso began the company as a teenager, linking young women to companies through an online platform and national events. Katlyn is dedicated to inspiring young women in the professional field! Read about how she got started and her on-going motivation.
BL: Could you tell me a little bit about GenHERation and how it got started?
Katlyn: As a social entrepreneur, I have always been passionate about empowering girls and wanted to create a business that provided an experiential learning platform for leadership. During the summer after my sophomore year of college, I received research grants from the Wharton Social Impact Initiative and Wharton Innovation Fund to study leadership development in high school girls to gain a better understanding of my target audience. I interviewed more than 700 high school girls, 40 female executives, and 30 educators in all 50 states, 9 countries, and 4 continents to analyze the factors that influence girls’ perception of leadership. Using this knowledge, I founded GenHERation, which is a network where young women and companies connect. We provide aspirational young women with access to the most innovative companies in America through our online platform and national events. We have empowered more than 106,000 young women and hosted 250 events across North America.
BL: Why do you think building a network of females is important?
Katlyn: It is 2019 and women comprise only 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 20% of Congress. These statistics are not reflective of the incredible advancements women have made in the past decade, so it is imperative that we all work together to amplify women’s voices. I believe by creating a network in which young women are encouraged to be ambitious and empowered at a young age, they will be more likely to pursue positions of power later in their lives to close the gender leadership gap.
BL: How can girls get involved with GenHERation and what can they expect?
Katlyn: Young women can get involved with GenHERation by visiting our website (www.geheration.com), attending our events, joining our newsletter, and following us on social media (@genheration) to become a member of our community. Once you are a GenHERation member, you gain access to events, inspiring content, job and internship opportunities, mentors, and more! For example, this summer we are hosting Discovery Days 2019, which are immersive day trips that provide high school and college women with the opportunity to visit the most innovative companies in America, network with female professionals, and participate in skill-building simulations.
BL: What motivates you to keep going?
Katlyn: The best part of my job is meeting the amazing GenHERation members across the country. It is always rewarding to meet a young woman who found her job, met a mentor, or won a scholarship through the GenHERation network.
BL: If you could tell your high school freshmen self something, what would it be?
Katlyn: I would tell my high school freshmen self, “The world is a big place and you have to get out there to see what you can do!” I grew up in a small town and when I was younger, I thought I would always live there and pursue a more traditional job. The decision to leave my hometown to attend Wharton was one of the most transformative experiences of my life because I learned how people with big goals make them a reality. In the last year, I have taken more than 100 flights, visited 50 cities, and traveled to 3 continents, so I would encourage my high school freshmen self to prepare for the amazing adventure ahead.
BL: Did you have a mentor or someone who you looked up to?
Katlyn: My dad has been my mentor my entire life. He is the most persistent, resilient, and passionate person I know and every day he inspires me to be the best version of myself. He is the person who encouraged me to become an entrepreneur and has been the biggest fan of all of my ventures.
BL: You just graduated college, could you tell me how your experience was? Did you find it hard to manage your work and school at the same time?
Katlyn: I loved my time at Penn! I graduated from Wharton in 2015 with a B.S. in Economics with concentrations in finance and strategic globalization. When I was a senior, I received the inaugural President’s Engagement Prize from Dr. Amy Gutmann, which provides graduating seniors with $150,000 to develop projects with the potential to change the word. This was a life-changing award and I will always be extremely grateful for the support of the Penn community. I have remained involved as an alum by serving as a board member on the Penn Fund Executive Board and the Center for Global Women’s Health. I started GenHERation when I was a junior in college and I learned that being a student founder has many advantages, including scholarships, pitch competitions, and faculty mentors. As a student founder, I could have easily spent all day working on GenHERation, so I had to learn how to balance my business with my school work. It taught me how to better prioritize my time, which is an important skill that can be applied to any profession.
BL: What are you looking forward to in the next step of GenHERation?
Katlyn: I always tell my team that we are building an empire! As we embrace this “think big” mentality, I am looking forward to empowering millions of young women, working with new partners, developing new products, and planning for international expansion.