A Day of Insight and Skill Building for VE Student Leaders


The VE Winning Women Leadership Conference, held May 5, 2023, and hosted and sponsored by Mastercard at the Mastercard Tech Hub, brought together more than 100 VE high school and middle school women and their educators from the New York City, northern New Jersey, and Philadelphia areas for a unique early-career development experience. In listening and skill building sessions with professionals, they learned more about how to be poised for business success.

The day started with a tour of the Mastercard Tech Hub hosted by Jian Bland, NYC Tech Hub Director, who kicked off the tone of the gathering by saying to those present that she was “so inspired by what VE does. By investing in the next generation of talent, we all succeed. Students, I hope you enjoy this space of creativity and innovation today. The future is you!”

The gathering then turned to leadership coaching, facilitated by Jillian Berg, VE Managing Director of Network Development, and Gina Pol, VE National Program Director.

Women’s careers face some gender-distinct challenges, and students were able to experience expert leadership coaching in the areas of developing a personal brand, cultivating a strong professional presence, and honing effective communications skills. Practical advice included discussion of what is considered appropriate attire in various settings and better understanding and leveraging communication (verbal, non-verbal, written, and listening.)

In a world that is becoming more and more virtual, the Tech Hub was an ideal site to discuss video meeting etiquette. Likewise, the group discussed business email best practices. Crafting an effective resumé was also covered.

In his opening remarks to student participants, VEI President Ali Shama said, “You are the next generation of change makers. And we are here to support you every step of the way.”  In mentorship roundtables that allowed direct coaching and input, that promise was fulfilled, as the student sharing that closed the day reflected.

VEI extends a special thank you to all the mentors and panelists that made the day extraordinary, including professionals from Mastercard, Emelle Designs, and the New York Life Foundation, not to mention the many talented educators who interact with students through their VEI classroom activities daily. Iris Blanc, VEI Founder, extended, “A special thank you to the mentors and panelists: the role models for our VE students. And to Mastercard for providing this incredible opportunity – your diversity, equity, and inclusion mission are in perfect alignment with our work, which is all about empowering limitless possibilities for all.”

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