Ever see an awesome woman doing really cool things, and wish you could be her friend?
Thanks to Sierra Barter and The Lady Project, it’s easier than ever to get connected with other outstanding ladies in your area. We got to talk to her about how she built this organization from the ground up.
What is The Lady Project, and why is it awesome?
The Lady Project is a non profit membership organization that connects, inspires, and showcases awesome women doing amazing things through events, membership, and community engagement. I co-founded Lady Project in 2011 in Providence, but we are now in twelve other cities nationwide with over 1,200 members. What makes it awesome is that we have women from all industries, career levels and backgrounds and we all support one another and want to help each other reach our own success. When we founded Lady Project, we realized that we knew all these amazing women and we wanted them not only to know each other, but to work with one another.
It’s clear in your work history that you’re heavily involved in women support and empowerment. What sparked your commitment to this, and what keeps that fire going in your life?
It’s so important to lift up each other women—especially when it’s so easy to compete and compare yourself to someone else. There is this sexist and negative connotation that women don’t want to help one another—and that’s not true. We know at Lady Project when you put a bunch of entrepreneurial, driven and brilliant women in one room, and they support each other, instead of competing, amazing things happen. What keeps that fire going is our members: Our members are always doing new and cool things through their work, collaborating with other members and folks in the community.
What are your hopes for your future and the future of The Lady Project?
Our goal is to have a Lady Project chapter in every city worldwide—there is a need for authentic communities for driven and amazing women to “find their people.” We are also launching Lady Project Works this fall- a resource center for members to host events, attend and lead workshops, co-work and meet up. Our annual sold out Summit continues to grow each year with over 300+ attendees from all over the country with keynote speakers like Hello Flo’s Naama Bloom, She’s the First’s Tammy Tibbetts, Olympian Michelle Kwan, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls’ Meredith Walker and more. We hope to make the Summit a weekend long event and potentially even host the Summit in more cities in years to come. We want our members to grow alongside Lady Project through every stage in their careers; women need support and resources regardless of their career stage and continue to mentor each other, work together and support one another.
What do you consider to be one of the most important aspects of your work?
Meeting up with members! I love meeting with our members for coffee or a glass of wine and talk about what they need from Lady Project and what they are doing in their own lives. I also love working with our community partners like Girls on the Run, Amenity Aid or the Girl Scouts to collaborate, bring our groups together and help out the communities we are in.
Can you describe one of your proudest moments since starting The Lady Project?
So many! We are so lucky to have an incredible all-volunteer run team that makes Lady Project happen every single day. Each year, the Summit gets bigger and better and I am so impressed by our team and volunteers. Last year, I was honored as one of Glamour Magazine’s Hometown Heroes—that was pretty cool. 🙂 Also in 2014 we hosted a RI Mayoral Forum– all of the democratic primary candidates came to our forum and answered questions from our members. It was amazing to see how much our potential mayors cared about Lady Project! And, now we work closely with Mayor Elorza and his administration.
What has been one of your biggest career challenges, and how did you overcome it?
Last year, we were looking at this amazing space for Lady Project Works—it was perfect with high ceilings and a cool industrial vibe, but then it fell through at the last minute. That was a bummer. Also, there is no perfect event—if you ever run or plan events, know that something is going to go wrong and the best thing to do is to fix it the best you can and keep moving.
Do you have any advice for young girls who are interested in getting more involved?
Join us! We have a student level of membership and Lady Project is for women and girls of all ages. We are also always looking for volunteers at events and the Summit and interns for all our chapters.