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Bold Movers program: Investing in Women Working Toward Gender Equity

Bold Movers is a two-month program that invests in women working toward gender equality advancing workplace inclusion, addressing challenges for working mothers and caregivers, and changing the cultural perceptions of women in society. Through the program, participants will build their confidence, empowering themselves to take on leadership roles and identify and remove barriers to their success.

In recent years, we’ve seen a backsliding in career opportunities for women, especially for working women who balance their professional obligations while simultaneously being a caregiver. The work of mothering and caring for loved ones is unrecognized, unpaid work that contributes to the pay gap for women. Furthermore, women’s professional progress is often hampered by gender-specific challenges such as likeability bias and a “motherhood penalty.”

These challenges have a cost. Not enough women are reaching leadership positions: for every woman promoted above the director level, two women directors leave their companies. In fact, women leaders are leaving their companies at the highest rates in history. 

To see change, workplace cultures must support women’s advancement and acknowledge and respect their obstacles and obligations. Women across the country are trying to make that vision a reality by creating radical transparency around the value and cost of balancing multiple priorities. 

Through curriculum work, mentorship, and a network of peers, Bold Movers gives participants the skills, knowledge, confidence, and inner strength to lead social change and create pathways to prosperity for themselves and their communities.  

Program Highlights: 

  • Seven weeks of leadership training and development 
  • Tailored mentorship on driving change in your workplace and/or community 
  • Lifelong participation in a network of link-minded, passionate peers 
  • Travel with the cohort to Stuart Weitzman headquarters in New York City for in-person training and networking 
  • Opportunity to apply for a project grant 

Who are Bold Movers participants? 

Bold Movers participants are women, ages 21-50 and based in the U.S., who are advocating for or implementing changes that level the playing field for working caregivers — especially in ways that will impact the opportunities of future generations of women. A participant might be someone who is… 

  • Building support networks in her workplace (like caregiver employee resource groups) or community (child or other family care provider resources, etc.) and/or
  • Fighting for gender-inclusive policies, especially as they relate to family planning, in her spheres of influence, and/or 
  • A working parent or caregiver of a disabled family member who is influencing change for herself and others in her position 
  • Cultivating the allyship of men and non-parents in her community 

When selecting Bold Movers participants, Vital Voices will particularly consider women who would benefit from leadership training to influence culture in both work and society at large.  

What does the program involve? 

Over seven weeks, Bold Movers participants will be part of a customized version of our flagship leadership development program, the Vital Voices Leadership Journey. Facilitated by inspiring, innovative experts, the course follows a highly practical, “learn-do-achieve” experiential learning methodology, combining live workshop sessions with self-paced activities and peer group discussions to help participants supercharge their ability to create positive change in their communities. 

Participants will also receive mentorship for the full length of the program, focusing on how best to catalyze the changes that matter most to them. 

Throughout the program, participants will forge bonds with their cohort members – women who, like them, are passionate about changing cultural norms and workplace policies around caregiving. As a participant, you will be part of a lifelong, ever-growing network of women with a shared mission who can offer support, mentorship, and guidance to help you take bolder steps in pursuit of ambitious change. Networks like these are crucial for the long-term success and resilience of women changemakers. Research shows that when women are part of diverse, non-hierarchical, non-competitive networks of other women leaders, they take on more daring risks and greater roles.  

At the end of the seven weeks, participants will have an opportunity to apply for grants to further their efforts. Participants will travel to the Tapestry headquarters in New York City to cap off the program. There, they will participate in in-person training, celebrate their leadership growth, and plan their future actions to promote gender equity in the workplace and beyond. 

This program is made possible by Stuart Weitzman and the Tapestry Foundation.

Applications are now closed. 

Michaela Ayers

2024 Fellow, Principal, Facilitator, Nourish/Black Her Stories

Michaela Ayers is a multi-disciplinary artist and Art Historian who blends creative practices into her diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism work. 
With over seven years of experience delivering events and experiences to diverse audiences, Ayers is a seasoned facilitator who offers a playful approach to learning that promotes creative thinking and behavior change. 
A spirited storyteller, Ayers is also the creator of the Black Her Stories project, a dynamic platform that celebrates the leadership and contributions of Black women throughout history and in modern times. 

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Kealoha Fox

2024 Fellow, President, Institute for Climate and Peace

Dr. Kealoha Fox is president of the Institute for Climate and Peace based in the islands of Hawai’i. She applies Indigenous innovation for collaborative solutions in business, science, and policy with actions that elevate healthy people, places, and futures. She is co-author of the books Mana Lāhui Kānaka: Mai nā kūpuna kahiko mai a hiki i kēia wā and Haumea: Transforming the Health of Native Hawaiian Women and Empowering Wāhine Well-Being focusing on Indigenous resilience through a Polynesia worldview. For the last five years, Fox has helped co-convene Nā Lau A Hina– a Native Hawaiian women’s collective aimed at healing, educating, elevating, and revitalizing our connections to the physical, spiritual and emotional piling with other celebrated wāhine in business. Each year, Fox mentors dozens of young women inside and outside the academy.  

Living her kuleana as a Kanaka Maoli, Fox has been trained in traditional practices and protocols such as ho’oponopono, hāhā, and lā’au lapa’au. The roles she is most proud of in her story thus far are as a mother and caregiver. A graduate of the University of Hawai’i’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, Fox is the recipient of more than 65 awards, including a 2024 Women Who Mean Business, 40 Under 40 Top Emerging Leader in 2024 by Modern Healthcare, Gates Foundation Goalkeeper, Obama Leader Asia Pacific, and a candidate for the Pritzker Environmental Genius Award. Dr. Fox has published numerous articles and editorials designing social well-being strategies with measurable impact in the Pacific. 

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Fereshteh Ganjavi

2024 Fellow, Director, Elena's Light

Fereshteh Ganjavi is the Director of Elena’s Light. Elena’a Light supports women, particularly working mothers, and caregivers, by providing ESL classes tailored to the needs of refugee women, empowering them with language skills essential for workplace integration. Additionally, they offer health classes and advocacy work, addressing the unique challenges working mothers and caregivers face, promoting their well-being and equitable treatment in the workplace. 

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Kioshana LaCount Burrell

2024 Fellow, Associate Director, Advancement Marketing and Communications, The Ohio State University

Kioshana LaCount Burrell has over 12 years of experience in Leadership and Workforce Development, having held positions in the non-profit, corporate, and public sectors. Her primary areas of expertise include workforce development strategy and implementation, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and engaging instructional design. She is passionate about working with organizations and individuals to create accessible pathways to professional growth for working parents and caregivers, eliminating the need for parents to choose between being active and engaged parents and finding professional success. 
Burrell is also an internationally published, best-selling author. Her most recent work, “Building Beyond the 9 to 5,” is a collection of inspirational stories from Black women entrepreneurs worldwide. Her current role as Associate Director for Advancement Communications at Ohio State University allows her to use her stellar writing skills to create moving communications for this major university. Burrell has dedicated much of her career to uplifting Women and People of Color in the workplace and continues to do so through collaborations with organizations such as Repro Jobs, the Experience Management Institute, and Dynamic Educational Systems, Inc. She currently lives in central Ohio with her husband and three children. 

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Liane Ma

2024 Fellow, Talent & Workforce Development Program Manager, Aspiranet

Liane Ma is currently Aspiranet’s Talent and Workforce Development Program Manager. Aspiranet received over 6 million dollars in funding from state-funded workforce development grant programs to execute initiatives around retention, recruiting, and organizational capacity building. Ma works with the leadership team to execute these strategies. Throughout Liane’s career, she delivered hands-on coaching to individuals, teams, and executives in all aspects of career and personal development. Ma has worked through various roles in marketing, corporate social responsibility, and counseling at non-profit, government, and for-profit settings like Luminous Computing, Safe Horizon, New York City Department for the Aging, Selina, and Sesame Workshop. Brought up as a third-culture kid, Ma prioritizes cultural humility and brings extensive language skills and a familiarity with Korea, China, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the U.S. to every project. 

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Shivani Parikh

2024 Fellow, Executive Director

Shivani Parikh is the Executive Director of the South Asian Legal Defense Fund. The South Asian Legal Defense Fund uses the power of law, narrative, and community to defend and advance the full dignity and civil rights of South Asian people in the United States of America. By combining litigation, advocacy, education, and organizing, we work with our communities nationwide to secure human rights for all and combat efforts to limit and marginalize our families. 

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Makenzie Peterson

2024 Fellow, Organizational Wellbeing & Strategy Consultant, WVLDI Board Member, Women's Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative

As an organizational wellbeing and strategy consultant, Dr. Makenzie Peterson provides subject-matter expertise on preventative, systems-based wellbeing initiatives that positively impact people’s lives. She helps organizations address the root causes of distress to improve overall well-being through evidence-based practices and strategic organizational change initiatives. 
In her previous roles, she led efforts to improve the professional well-being of students, staff, and faculty and conducted national research on mental health, wellbeing, and organizational culture, providing data-driven organizational recommendations for program development and implementation. Peterson speaks on a variety of wellbeing-related topics to drive positive change. 
Her previous roles include being a health specialist for a joint MIT/Harvard-sponsored start-up at Harvard Business School’s Innovation Lab, at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine as their first Wellbeing Program Director, Wellbeing Committee member for the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, and later as the first Director for Wellbeing at the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges. Dr. Peterson also founded the Wellbeing Coalition within the Federation of the Allied Schools of the Health Professions to encourage cross-disciplinary efforts and resource sharing across health professions. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative and is a member of several working groups at the National Academy of Medicine’s Action Collaborative on Clinician Well-Being. 
Born and raised in Alaska, Dr. Peterson completed her master’s degree from the University of Utah in Health Promotion & Education and her Doctorate of Social Work from the University of Southern California. 

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Laneceya Russ

2024 Fellow, Executive Director, March for Moms

March for Moms partners with national and grassroots organizations to urge American leaders and policymakers to help ensure moms, birthing people, and families get the support and care they deserve through advocacy, technical assistance, and capacity-building. March for Moms aligns the diverse voices of families, healthcare providers, policymakers, and partners to advocate for the health, care, and well-being of moms and their families. 
As a non-partisan, solution-oriented, multi-stakeholder 501(c)3, March for Moms leads and elevates the lived experience of maternal health and outcomes as advocates, surviving birthing people and family members, healthcare providers, thought leaders, and policymakers. 
Laneceya Russ is the Executive Director of March for Moms. Russ is currently the Vice-Chair of Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, a board member of Louisiana Crime Victim Reparations, and on the development committee for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. She is also Co-Vice President of Philanthropy for the Greater Baton Rouge chapter of the Associates of Fundraising Professionals. 

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Janitza Vasquez

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Janitza Vasquez is the Director of One Happy Mama. One Happy Mama is dedicated to empowering and uplifting young mothers through their journey of motherhood, self-fulfillment, and self-discovery while pursuing their happiest lives. One Happy Mama aims to foster a program that supports young mothers in their journey to become career-driven, financially independent, happy, healthy mothers. 
Vasquez is an esteemed educator with nearly a decade of experience, transitioning into the role of program manager. She has dedicated herself to empowering others through education and leadership. As the founder and executive director of One Happy Mama, she has demonstrated exceptional leadership and vision in addressing the needs of young mothers. Vasquez’s commitment to personal and professional growth is evident through her completion of various leadership development programs, including Loyola’s Women Leadership Academy and the She Leads fellowship. Her journey exemplifies a relentless dedication to creating positive change and fostering inclusive communities. 

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Elizabeth Virkina Swanson Andi

2024 Fellow, Impact Storyteller, Iyarina Center for Learning

Eli Virkina is a passionate audiovisual storyteller, advocate for Indigenous Rights/Climate Justice, and community organizer from the Venecia Derecha Kichwa Community on the Napo River in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Through the Iyarina Center for Learning, her family-led initiative, she dedicates herself to preserving Indigenous languages and culture while exploring equitable and sustainable solutions for the future of the Amazon Rainforest. Along with her family, she safeguards key forests of bio-cultural significance with a focus on fostering “sumak kawsay,” the Kichwa philosophy of “living well” where families and forests are taken care of and take care of each other—key to this are women, caretakers, and givers of life. 
As an Impact Storyteller at If Not Us The Who? and co-founder of the Youth Collective in Defense of the Amazon Rainforest, she envisions a harmonious and sustainable future rooted in the understanding that we are all interconnected with nature and recognizes the shared responsibility to care for each other. Her work is a testimony to the future in which she envisions humanity is intricately connected with nature, fostering harmony and sustainability. Inspired by the land and people who shaped her, she uses the power of storytelling and relationship-building to bridge the world of Indigenous knowledge and technology with Western Science to amplify and implement community and nature-based solutions aiming to shape a world guided by resilient storytelling and positive transformation. 

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