Am I a Fraud? Lets Talk Impostor Syndrome

By Carita Marrow

Carita Marrow    Diversity & Inclusion Talent Program Manager at Adobe #AdobeforAll

Carita Marrow

Diversity & Inclusion Talent Program Manager at Adobe #AdobeforAll

Update: As of early 2018, Carita has taken a role as a Diversity and Inclusion Talent Program Manager at Adobe.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”- Maya Angelou

My name is Carita. I am a senior manager at UNCF, largely overseeing our Science Education Initiatives at UNCF. Over the past few years, I’ve administered over 11 million dollars in STEM scholarship funding to 503 African American students. UNCF is the world’s largest scholarship providing organization.

My scholars amaze me with their groundbreaking accomplishments. Over 300 hold doctorates in their respective science disciplines. We have MD/PhDs, lawyers, and Rhodes’ Scholars. We even have our very own NASA Astronaut.

Many have ventured into the tech industry, founding their own startups or in engineering roles for technical companies. I am proud of my scholars and their success.

But yet, among their accomplishments and my successes, I often feel like a fraud.

With a background in the arts and higher education, I feel undeserving to lead and serve the country’s next generation of leaders; as if the arts are somehow “less-than”. I have a constant and lingering fear of being found out aka,“FOBFO”. I succumb to Impostor Syndrome every day I enter the office.

That’s how I opened my, “Let’s get Specialized, “ workshops April 8 on the topic, “ Let’s Talk Impostor Syndrome,” by Carita Marrow, UNCF at the 2017 Project Entrepreneurs Intensive powered by Rent the Runway Foundation and UBS.

How did I get here to present to these phenomenal ladies?My boss and I serve as UNCF HBCU Innovation, Commercialization (ICE) Entrepreneurship community advisors for Project Entrepreneur. We evangelize, read applications and provide suggestions on session topics.

Jennifer Stybel, Executive Director of Project Entrepreneur, approached me earlier this year to lead a workshop on impostor syndrome with a case study analysis. Generally, I reserve this type of workshop for incoming African American STEM students college freshmen and not for female founders. I prefer to remain behind the scenes and out of the limelight. And, while I often zig-zag around the country speaking to high school seniors, college students and more…I kept thinking, “What value can I add to female entrepreneurs?” What could I possibly teach 30 female founders participating in a weekend intensive dedicated for 200 total female founders? Term sheets and rounds of funding aren’t my area. My role takes place much earlier before these ladies make the Next Big Thing; not by providing the funding to build companies, but by funding the college education of the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

Snap out of it, Carita! Like I tell my students to own their excellence, I realized, my feelings of self- doubt coupled with the mainstream stereotypes of being black and a woman were not worth another moment’s waste of energy. Being a leader requires acting like a leader.

After my opening statement at the April 8th workshop, I transitioned to how I overcame my insecurity of feeling like a fraud in my industry during the early years at UNCF. A few years ago, one of my Graduate Fellows, an African American female PhD candidate, called me and forfeited her fellowship funds. This published author had failed defending her thesis on two different occasions. This is not an unusual circumstance where minority women are subjected to a higher standard than others. But her white male counterpart defended successfully after one pass and was not a published author at all. So she had to settle for a Masters. It was then I realized I would no longer sit back quiet in meetings with VPs and Program officers. I would raise my voice fighting for equal opportunity and pushing for new inclusive initiatives for the African American students I serve(d).

During the workshop, I had the women founders self-identify with a few statements:

  1. It’s hard for me to accept compliments or praise about my intelligence or accomplishments.
  2. When I succeed, I have doubts about being able to do it again.
  3. I tend to remember the incidents in which I have not done my best more than those times I have done my best.
  4. I feel I have to work harder than others.
  5. When people praise me, I fear I won’t live up to their expectations.
  6. I feel like I have tricked others into thinking I am more successful than I actually am.
  7. I have dismissed my success due to luck or timing.
  8. I downplay my upbringing- degrees, accomplishments or do not mention at all.

If the women identified with more than two statements, then they are victim to impostor syndrome.

Let’s play close attention to that last statement. I resonate wholeheartedly with downplaying my degrees and upbringing. I used to shield my story of being raised in the projects part of my childhood. I used to hide that I am second generation masters recipient. My story is similar to the stories black women face every day. This is our NORMAL. I thought my peers would look down on me placing me into a category of worthlessness. But as I heard more of peers and students stories throughout the years, I shed light on my own truths and I felt rejuvenated. One of the workshop attendees mentioned she never states she went to Harvard Business School. Another one says sometimes she hides that she is on her third venture.

We then took a few minutes to tackle the following cases studies where I asked each to advise the group how they would handle this. I also provided my own suggestions of how to tackle these ( if you would like to know some suggestions, please leave a comment).

  1. MANterruption

The CaseYou are in a team meeting of six including the lead manager. Four men and two women.

The team is celebrating the successful completion of a project you all have been working for months.The men are dominating the conversation which is typical of staff meetings. You begin to discuss the success and next steps. But quickly, you are MANterrupted, talk-blocking. Question: What do you do?

2. The Appearance

The Case: You want to set yourself apart as a woman founder and ditch the “cliche” Silicon Valley: Jeans and Tshirt. However, you decide to wear a dress for the change in the workplace. Someone asks, ““Why are you so fancy today? Interviewing somewhere else?” What do you do?

3. Are you doing this for fun? Sexism, Ladder Culture, and Fundraising.

The Case: You’re raising capital and hearing one of the following:

  • Are you single? I think you’d be great for my grandson.
  • Does this mean you’re back to work full time?
  • You’ll be the prettiest founder in my portfolio.

What do you do?

4. You don’t belong at this Pitch Competition. Mistaken for the Help

The Case: Imagine you are at a pitch competition and one of the few women entrepreneurs pitching. Before it’s your turn, a male founder walks up to you and asks you to make copies thinking you are production or clerical staff. What do you do?

5. Gender Promotion.

The Case: Only a select few women were promoted after a performance review, but a male senior employee does not seem to have an issue with this. What do you do?

We closed the session with me passing out tips to follow as well as tips for Sister Circles & other allies.

Finally, I left each to recite the below positive affirmations in their spare time and tying some of the affirmations on each others’ wrist via ribbons ( Thanks WeWork for the idea from DC’s Creator Awards).

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I hope the ladies left inspired to implement some of these techniques while scaling their startup and recognizing their full potential, equity, and fairness. And hopefully, use these tools when creating their own Sister Circles…

It is also my goal to take this, “Impostor Syndrome,” motivational workshop on the road with my sister queens in Tech, Lexi Butler and Gloria Kimbwala.



carita 3.jpeg

Thanks, Projector Entrepreneur (Jennifer Stybel & Carmen Mercado), Rent The Runway Foundation and UBS for trusting me and my excellence. A huge shout out to my mom for being my special assistant!

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Gyals Spotlight: Amateur Bikini Bodybuilder and Entrepreneur, Lenee Forcier


“I think a group like Gyals Network is important because it allows you to be in touch with other successful entrepreneurs and professionals in industries that you wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to.   If you want to change industries you can use Gyals Network to make contacts and connections and make that move.”

About Lenee:

Lenee is an Amateur Bikini Bodybuilder growing her fitness bikini line Dion Bikinis.. Find her on Instagram @dionbikinis

The Juicy Talk Series

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Lets talk self love!

Join us for an evening of radical self-love to answer the question: "How do you practice radical self-love and what do you hope to learn from others?" 

This talk is inspired by the book, "The Body is not an Apology Movement" by Sonya Renee Taylor.  

More on Sonya:

She gave an inspiring talk at TEDxMarin back in October and her new book is set to release later next week. 

A friend first introduced to her SpokenWord over 5 years ago and found her strength and confidence inspiring. Sonya has continued to travel the global and give powerful performances like this one on SnapJudgement. Now there is a movement and a following. By find our own inner strength we can then go on to do bigger work in the world community.

This talk will be help in San Francisco. Exact location details will be sent before the event. +21 and over.

Please register here ->

Make a difference. Volunteer with us at Project Open Hand.

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Gyal's Network is excited to volunteer with Project Open Hand SF (located at 730 Polk Street) the 2nd Tuesday of every month, starting on tonight, Tuesday, March 13 from 5:30-7:30 PM. Join us once or as regularly as you can! 

Sign up using this link: 

Since Project Open Hand relies on having a consistent number of volunteers, please only sign up if you are confident you'll be able to join. You will be contacted with further details as we get closer to the date :) 

Project Open Hand’s mission is to nourish and engage our community by providing meals with love to the sick and the elderly. During our shifts, we will help prepare food and assemble meal packages. 

We look forward to seeing you there!


Gyals Spotlight: Jessica Beeler

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Gyals Spotlight- San Francisco Criminal Defense Attorney Jessica Beeler shares why she appreciates Gyal's Network : 

“With technology we tend to be disconnected so I appreciate having real life interactions with people who have similar goals and want more from life. Its important for people in SF to connect in person and have fun together. I personally have found Gyals Network helpful for the purpose of sharing successes. I’m in solo practice now and it can be a solitary experience which is why I appreciate when I can get together with other people. It’s also great to hang with non lawyers for a change and learn what’s going on with each other and share successes.” 

Learn more about Jessica at

Subscribe to Gyals Network news and events at

Join our facebook group

Gyals Creating Change: Shireen Hafeez of Deaf Kids Code

How it Started

Shireen Hafeez world changed when her son was diagnosed as deaf at 4 years old. It was a late diagnosis. Hearing aides were not covered by insurance as they were deemed cosmetic. Hafeez soon learned of the need for advocacy for children like her son and made it her life goal to change the improve inclusion among the Deaf. She has since been striving to do just that.

The Opportunity in the Digital Age

The economics are clear: 70% of the deaf are unemployed or underemployed. Hafeez learned this statistic then also learned about the term “ school to couch” as the negative pattern that is so often the pattern of children who have a disability. It's considered the typical life path that the Deaf follow. However, Hafeez is not here for that and strives to make a difference. She has already made strides to integrate education for the digital age and is leveraging this opportunity to develop tech talent. “We are in a new day and age where remote work is on the incline with over 1 million jobs projected to require computing expertise by 2020.” Hafeez sees the opportunity in this projection and believes that the “digital age is the great equalizer" for the Deaf/ hard of hearing. Coding languages are universal and visual thus allowing one to a have a equal voice and participation in the world. 

Deaf Kids Code

With no fancy data to back up her vision, Hafeez followed her intuition to ignite interest in computer science and technology to kids who are Deaf/ hard of hearing. She started a local grassroots effort that quickly developed into a high demand organization nationally. The response has been amazing. She has been approached and invited by deaf educators to do workshops. Kids also ask for Deaf Kids Code to return. 

Hafeez is now growing an ecosystem for deaf students with online and project based learning that helps them build their portfolio beginning in middle school and high school.  This program is focused on developing talent for companies, not pity.   

What’s Next

Hafeez is working with Purdue University’s EPICS team to translate 1000 Khan Academy educational videos to ASL. She has also led translation events at Dreamforce and tech fairs. She continues to advocate and raise awareness of the untapped talent in the deaf community.  

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We will leave you with a few closing quotes she shared in her amazing Ted Talk.

    •    "[The Deaf] the next great problem solvers.”

    •     “Inclusion and diversity should be societal imperative, no questions asked.”

    •    “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine.” 

For more information on Deaf Kids Code, check out their website at


Why We Get Stuck in Our Careers

Ever feel stuck in your career and don’t know why?  Are there times when you feel unheard or not taken seriously?  Does it seem like everyone else is moving up the ladder while you remain stagnant?

If you answered yes to any of the questions above you are not alone.  We recently caught up with Arjun Buxi, Executive Communications Consultant who shared how our professional brand may be impacting our career growth and how we can intentionally develop it for more personal and career success.  Check out his valuable advice below and catch him live via the web on our next Accelerator lab on Personal Branding Tuesday, March 28th at 10AM PT.

Question: How can I build a strong professional brand at work?

Answer: Your brand is what people associate with you - even if they don’t know your name. And they treat you accordingly - with or without respect, with or without reward, with or without opportunity.

So how can you fix this to make all your hard work and potential count?

Brand Development is not a choice or a balance between intimidation/power and generosity/kindness, rather a development of mission/objective orientation in our ‘big picture’ and day-to-day thinking.

The mission is a larger, almost philanthropic goal — 

McDonald’s might have a mission of ‘making people happy with great-tasting food’ (questionable yet plausible).

The objective is how we gain revenue in exchange for providing value.

The latter keeps the lights on, the former keeps us light.

Focus on these as the two sides of a coin — neither one can be sacrificed in the pursuit of business success, and this is the cornerstone of building a culture for your company, and a brand for your customers to engage with.

Question: When should I be firm and when should I be forgiving?

Answer: Both, all the time.

Be firm in your principles and goals: all employees, stakeholders and yourself (above all) must fit this Culture thus created.

Be forgiving of people’s mistakes, but firm in judging their ‘fit’ for your organization.

There is a value to the ‘pull’ orientation of “people work” (a better phrase than management, don’t you think?) in that we are playing on intrinsic motivations — actually wanting to succeed with the organization, rather than in return for some real or imagined incentives.

Employees who believe they are fairly paid are more engaged, are less likely to quit, experience less stress at work, feel healthier physically and psychologically, and are more satisfied with their personal life.

Personnel are not motivated in the long term by the ‘carrot and stick’ alternation of days gone by, certainly not white-collar workers with a college degree. They are motivated by a sense of fairness and opportunity, and a consistency displayed by Management in accordance with the spoken and unspoken culture of an organization.

Be unrelenting in the mission, ultimately, and lead by example.

The rest will follow (pun intended).

Learn how to build your personal brand by joining us for Arjun’s Online Accelerator Lab Tuesday, March 28th 10-11am PT and get valuable insights into climbing the corporate ladder on YOUR terms.   Early bird registration is $19.  Register here.






Happy International Women's Day

Wednesday, March 8th, is International Women's Day. As millions of others around the world celebrate the positive achievements of women and spark the next chapter of change, we encourage you to empower others and celebrate with us! How? Below are 3 awesome events we are hosting and co-hosting to celebrate Women's Empowerment Month! Join us and invite others!

3/11, Napa (Carpool available if RSVP by today) - Girls Day Out, Wine for Women's Empowerment!…

3/22, Oakland - Who Run The World? (GIRLS!) - Women's Herstory Month Celebration:…

3/30, San Francisco - SHEnanigans: 5th Annual Women's History Month Celebration:…

Our November 2016 Gyal Creating Change - Vinitha Watson, Founder of Zoo Labs

We are excited to bring you our next Gyal Creating Change Vinitha Watson!

Vinitha Watson, November 2016 Gyal Creating Change

Vinitha Watson, November 2016 Gyal Creating Change

About GCC: Gyals Creating Change is an initiative where we showcase female pioneers making an impact in their communities. Our goal is to support their work and empower you to support them too.  Are you a Gyal Creating Change or know someone who is?  If so, please visit our GCC page at and tell us more!

Vinitha is an entrepreneur, design strategist, and artist. She opened Google’s first office in India, was a fellow at the Institute for the Future, and sits on the boards of Nexleaf Analytics, and California College of the Arts.  Vinitha is the founder and Executive Director of Zoo Labs, the world's first music accelerator that sits at the intersection of art and business.   Zoo Labs is about re-imagining entrepreneurship as a creative endeavor and supporting Artist lead companies get to the next level.  With roots in Silicon Valley the nonprofit brings together some of the best mentors in tech, business, and art to have a hand in shaping the future—something bigger than its parts. Sometimes people ask her if she’s crazy. And she might well be.

Zoo Labs is looking for great artists to be part of our program as well as mentors and donors in the business, tech, and art space. For more information visit their website

Connect with Zoo Labs on Social Media:

fb  twitter   instagram  music

Press: KQED

Are you or any fab women you know making positive change?  If so, we'd like to showcase them.  Nominate here.

The Pay Gap is REAL. Join Our Challenge.

Do you know your worth?   Does your current salary reflect your value? 

Photo source:

Photo source:

If you were working full-time in 2015 and identify as a woman, statistics show that you only earn 80 cents for every dollar earned by white men. If you're a woman of color it's more like 67 cents. **sigh**

Although we know bias plays a HUGE role in this 20% pay gap,  one study of graduating MBA students found that men negotiate their job offers 4X as much as women.  In fact, only 37% of all job offers are negotiated even though employers expect counter offers.

Become a POWER Negotiator

To help you discover the strategic techniques to negotiate successfully, we will be hosting a special LIVE webinar with Michelle Kim, a passionate Career Consultant who is spilling the beans on effective negotiations and has a track record of increasing her clients salaries an average of 14%.  Interested in joining us?  The live webinars will be hosted on Tuesday, November 15th and Saturday November 19th at 10AM PT/1PM ET.  Recordings of the live webinars will be available for all registrants for 10 days after the live event.  Register today to take advantage of the $15 early bird pricing limited to the first 50 registrants (HURRY that's 40% off!).

Join Our November Negotiations Challenge

Challenge yourself to negotiate!  When you join, you will receive negotiation tips delivered directly to your inbox throughout November.  Simply enter your email below.

* indicates required


Hope you'll join us!

Introducing Accelerator Labs: Webinars for Women

Gyals Network Accelerator Labs offers FREE or low cost, live access to experienced experts providing practical strategies crucial to the advancement of women (all genders welcome).   During these webinars, you will have rare, exclusive access to leaders who typically offer their services to high-paying executive clients.  Check out our current schedule and join our newsletter to get first hand access to upcoming webinars on a variety of topics designed for your advancement. 

To ensure the quality of our webinars, we limit capacity so that you have the opportunity to engage and interact with our experts.  Spaces fill fast so claim your spot early and take advantage of any early bird pricing while available!  Our next webinar, Salary Negotiations: Overcoming your Fear of Asking for More will take place November 15th and 19th and will be hosted by Michelle Kim, an experienced Career Consultant and Coach who will share the core skills/techniques required to successfully negotiate a job offer, including how to respond when you are asked "what is your current salary?".

Not sure if you can make the date?  No worries, you will have access to the live recording for up to 10 days after the scheduled date.  Email me directly if you have any questions.

Gyals Creating Change: Angela Patton Appointed White House Champion of Change

Please join us in congratulating our very own gyal,  Angela W Patton on becoming a White House Champions of Change for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls and Girls of Color.

On September 30th, 2016 Angela W Patton was appointed  White House Champions of Change  for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls and Girls of Color.

On September 30th, 2016 Angela W Patton was appointed White House Champions of Change for Extracurricular Enrichment for Marginalized Girls and Girls of Color.

Angela and 9 others were selected by the White House for their leadership in developing and supporting high-quality after-school and extracurricular programs that create opportunities for girls from marginalized communities so that all young people can reach their full potential.

Angela Patton is the Chief Executive Officer of Girls For A Change (GFAC) and the Founder of CAMP DIVA, one of GFAC's flagship programs. A native of Richmond, Angela has been a strong advocate and champion of Black girls for 13 years in the non-profit sector. Girls For A Change seeks to address the unique challenges faced by Black girls and to support and inspire them through after school and summer enrichment and leadership programs focused on creating social change. Patton has established partnerships with five universities, expanded GFAC programs to undeserved communities across the country, and overseen the creation of over 200 social change projects conceptualized by girls. One of those projects was the subject of her 2012 TED Women talk. Angela is working to expand GFAC programs to create more spaces where girls can be seen, heard, and celebrated.

We are extremely proud of Angela’s accomplishment and privileged to be lead by such an amazing and fearless visionary.

Our October 2016 Gyal Creating Change - Dorie Hagler, Photographer and Activist

We are excited to bring you our next Gyal Creating Change Dorie Hagler!

      Dorie Hagler, October 2016 Gyal Creating Change    
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Dorie Hagler, October 2016 Gyal Creating Change

About GCC: Gyals Creating Change is an initiative where we showcase female pioneers making an impact in their communities. Our goal is to support their work and empower you to support them too.  Are you a Gyal Creating Change or know someone who is?  If so, please visit our GCC page at and tell us more!

Dorie Hagler is a long form documentary photographer and activist whose work has appeared in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Denver Post, Chicago Tribune, Viewfind, New Mexico Magazine, Saving Land and many others. In March, in response to a celebrity obsessed society, Hagler founded me&EVE a visual feminist movement highlighting the extraordinary stories of ordinary women.

Hagler’s work has been exhibited in both solo and group shows in both galleries and museums throughout the country.  She created and published a monthly photo column in the Taos News for eight years before moving to New York City.  Her clients include; Tina Brown Live Media, The Eugene M. Lang Foundation, The Kellogg Foundation, The United Nations International School, Marymount, Coffee Kids, Taos Ski Valley, PLASTARC, The Boys and Girls Club of America and the Taos Land Trust.

She is a frequent speaker and teacher at Adorama in New York City and currently Hagler is teaching a photography workshop to female inmates at Riker’s Island.  

Check out her work:

Our September 2016 Gyal Creating Change - Carol Luong, Founder of GreatPositive!

We are excited to bring you our next Gyal Creating Change Carol Luong!

Carol Luong, September 2016 Gyal Creating Change

Carol Luong, September 2016 Gyal Creating Change

About GCC: Gyals Creating Change is an initiative where we showcase female pioneers making an impact in their communities. Our goal is to support their work and empower you to support them too.  Are you a Gyal Creating Change or know someone who is?  If so, please visit our GCC page at and tell us more!

Carol is a marketing strategist by trade, but considers herself to be a dedicated philanthropist first and foremost which is why she founded GreatPositive

Founded in September 2014, GreatPositive is the only platform that focuses exclusively on building donation tools for small nonprofits. They help nonprofits better engage, empower and activate their supporters to fundraise on behalf of them through our peer-to-peer fundraising platform, where supporters commonly donate their own birthdays or come up with other creative asks. And to top it off, they take a stance against taking a cut from donations and work off a fixed fee model that all nonprofits can afford. In May 2016, GreatPositive was awarded a “Best for NYC” company, recognized particularly in two categories: for their dedication to the community and environment.

Carol Luong,   MBA,     Founder of GreatPositive

Carol Luong, MBA, Founder of GreatPositive

Carol has been volunteering since the age of 12 and knew that it would be her lifelong mission to help others and improve the world. As a first-generation American, she was always grateful for the sacrifices and struggles of her parents who were “boat people” that emigrated from Vietnam over 35 years ago. Even though she didn't have much, growing up in a 2 bedroom apartment with her parents, 4 older siblings and grandmother, she always felt like she had everything she needed.  

Prior to founding GreatPositive, she spent 7 fast-paced years in the corporate and startup sector, where she gained the knowledge and inspiration to leverage technology to help nonprofits. Highlights include leading the product development of HighTable, an online peer-to-peer community for CIOs, and running the marketing for Monaeo, a SaaS startup focused on location-based tax solutions. She also has 2 years experience consulting with nonprofits on marketing communications, web design, and online fundraising strategy.
Carol also enjoys speaking at industry events, including her experience as a panelist at New York Nonprofit Media’s FundCon on the topic of “A Nonprofit Call to Action: How to Enhance Direct Response Campaigns,” a panelist for Binghamton University's Center for Civic Engagement’s discussion on “Online Activism and Social Change,” and a moderator for a panel discussion on “How to Integrate Volunteerism into a Balanced Life.” Most recently, she was invited to be a guest author for Nonprofit Hub, an online educational community dedicated to giving nonprofits the highest quality resources, reaching 34,000 monthly users.

Carol Luong,   MBA,     Founder of GreatPositive

Carol Luong, MBA, Founder of GreatPositive

Carol has an MBA from Binghamton University, is a graduate of the Circular Board, a collaborative accelerator for women entrepreneurs, and is a Roadmap Scholar graduate of Andrew's Roadmaps, an exclusive entrepreneurial boot camp for early-stage startup founders.

LinkedIn Profile:


Our August 2016 Gyal Creating Change - Liz Lee, Co-Founder of Online SOS

We are excited to bring you our next Gyal Creating Change Liz Lee!

Liz Lee, August 2016 Gyal Creating Change

Liz Lee, August 2016 Gyal Creating Change

About GCC: Gyals Creating Change is an initiative where we showcase female pioneers making an impact in their communities. Our goal is to support their work and empower you to support them too.  Are you a Gyal Creating Change or know someone who is?  If so, please visit our GCC page at and tell us more!

Liz is doing big things.  She is currently building a nonprofit to address online harassment ( and recently quit her corporate job at Morgan Stanley to leverage her tech experience to broaden the conversation on online abuse while ensuring individuals experiencing harassment are able to get the help they need.

“I started Online SOS because I want people to have a professional, safe, central place to get help, after experiencing any form of online abuse - including harassment, stalking, threats of violence, impersonation hacking, and non-consensual pornography.”

Liz navigates her own experiences with online (and in-person / IRL) harassment and violence and bravely shares her experience as the greatest challenge in her personal and professional life: “Online harassment is also often misunderstood and trivialized or dismissed. But from personal experience, I deeply understand how online (and in-person) harassment and violence can have real life consequences, and how challenging it can be for anyone - even high functioning, strong-willed men and women - to return to normalcy.”

Online SOS provides crisis coaching, referrals to expert help, and donations to help pay for services.  Doors are open, but the network is operating in stealth mode before their public launch this fall.

“There is an emotional and economic cost to online harassment, and unfortunately the burden falls under the person targeted. We don’t want money (or time) to be the reason people don’t seek or get the help they need.”

Online SOS has established three main initiatives:

  1. Online SOS Program - A pilot program to help anyone who has or is dealing with harassment with an online or digital component. The first step is to listen to the victim to determine ways to support including funding towards legal fees.
  2. Share your story - Online SOS iscommitted to learning about the needs of the victim no matter when the incident occured.
  3. Join this Online SOS Network - If you are concerned about the state of online communities, you can join the Online SOS network. 

Email Liz at to learn more and find ways you can help.

Volunteering is Good for the Soul! Our Experience at Project Open Hand.

Last Saturday, we volunteered with Project Open Hand (POH) to help feed the chronically ill.  Below is a synopsis of our experience.

A few cool facts:

  • Project Open Hand was founded at the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.  During that time HIV/AIDS was considered the gay man's cancer and due to a lack of education, people avoided all contact with those infected out of fear.  This harsh treatment lead to job losses and isolation which eventually caused malnutrition and death.  Ruth Brinker saw the need for service and then founded POH with little resources.
  • Everyday, POH provides approximately 2,500 nutritious meals and 200 bags of groceries to their clients to sustain them.  If clients are too sick to leave their homes to pick up their meals, POH will deliver their food to them.
  • POH offers a diverse menu of healthy meal plans tailored to their clients needs.  They also offer visits with a nutritionist so that their clients become empowered.

POH always needs volunteers so if interested, sign up here.

A Look Back: Gyals Network Leadership Team Accomplishments

It's almost been a year!

On October 28th, it will be a year since the Gyal's Network Leadership team was established.  Time sure does fly by when you are having fun and I must say that TOGETHER we have done a lot in the past few months to execute our mission of empowering women from diverse backgrounds to make a positive change in the world. 

A few of our accomplishments include:

  • Re-branded from our famed Gyals Game Night identity to better communicate and execute our mission.
  • Hosted our very first Gyals of Impact fundraiser for the Covenant House.  We learned a lot about how hard fundraising is.  IT IS HARD!   Although it was a struggle, we successfully raised enough money to put together 80+ care-kits for homeless youth in Oakland.  Success is sweet!
  • Launched Gyals Creating Change where we now highlight remarkable women making a change in their communities.  By doing this, we offer them a platform for gaining support on their work! 
  • Held our Bo$$ Lady empowerment event in celebration of Women's History Month.  This event inspired a beautiful, diverse group of emerging leaders to take control of their career growth through great dialogue, our famed #playwithpurpose activity, and a leadership presence workshop.
  • Executed our Gyals of Impact Fashion Revolution movie screening and action plan to spread the word on the huge global implications of cheap fashion on our environment and health.
  • Represented Gyals Network at the White House United State of Women Summit last month.  We learned so much about the state of women and it was clear that executing our mission is more important that ever!

What's Next?

  • Partnering with Project Open Hand to feed those in need this Saturday, July 23rd in SF.  Sign up here!
  • Women's Wellness Showcase featuring experts sharing tips and resources to manage overall wellness.
  • Dating and Relationship Showcase featuring relationship experts on the current state of dating and key habits of strong, healthy relationships.
  • Gyals Creating Change ramp up with new features every month.  Please nominate someone today!
  • Semi-annual Gyals Groups: An intimate gathering to facilitate important change-making dialogue on the state of women that will eventually drive our initiatives.  Want to join?  Email us at and we will get back to you!

Thank you!

I just want to thank the Leadership Team and all of our members, friends, and family who believe in our vision.  We will be doing a lot more with your support.  Thank you!!! xoxoxoxo







Our July 2016 Gyal Creating Change - Lucy Keoni, Co-Founder of Startuprising

We are excited to bring you our next Gyal Creating Change Lucy Keoni!

Gyals Creating Change is an initiative where we will occasionally showcase female pioneers making an impact in their communities. Our goal is to support their work and empower you Gyals to support them too.

Lucy Keoni is a trusted start-up advisor and mentor who's mission is to mobilize the tech community towards inclusive action. Lucy actively structures her life around the issues that she feels are most important. Like, not just working in finance, but starting a conference to teach young girls financial literacy. Learning mobile product development to build technologies to help empower people in developing countries, or starting a holistic health and wellness company to help corporate employees be healthier and happier so they could give back more to their communities - and sending her profits to support social impact causes.

Today, Lucy is the founder of StartUpRising ( and is committed to bringing resources and opportunities to historically underrepresented founders and investors.

Are you a Gyal Creating Change? If so please visit our GCC page on and tell us about yourself!