Contributed by: Daja Martinez, GEN Development Intern
Lisa Stanton has joined Girls Empowerment Network as Director of Philanthropy in GEN’s Houston office. We’re deeply excited that Lisa has joined our team, and recently interviewed her so that we could share more about her background and passions with our community.
What’s your background? What experiences have had an impact on your decision to work in girls empowerment?
I have 15 years of experience in non-profit, working both in Development and Education. Most recently at the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, where I was the Director of the Jerome Robinson Family Young Adult Division. I went to the University of Arizona where I studied Judaics and Education. I then returned to the Washington DC area where I was born and raised. In 2011 I moved to Houston with my husband, Jeffrey (a native Houstonian), and our now 7 year old twins Max and Maya, becoming highly involved in the community. I currently serve as the President of the National Council of Jewish Women’s Greater Houston Section, On the Lyon Cohen Symposium and Membership Committees at Congregation Beth Israel, and on the Advisory Council for Volunteer Houston. I reside in the Meyerland neighborhood of Houston where I enjoy spending time with friends and neighbors. I love baking, entertaining, and reading!
During my time working as an educator and administrator I encountered so many girls who were struggling to deal with societal pressures and expectations. I connected with these students in a very deep and meaningful way because I saw in them a reflection of my own experience as a girl growing up. While these experiences motivated me to be a role model for girls and an advocate for girls empowerment it wasn’t until I began working in fund development that I learned more about the research around the impact of investing in girls. Feeling a strong mission to work towards social justice it was so affirming to learn that studies show the most effective way to change the world is through investments relating to women and girls. Learning this inspired me to work towards empowering all girls to realize their full potential!
What excites you most about your role at GEN?
My role at GEN is a unique one as I am helping to completely launch the program in Houston and grow it to its full potential so that we can serve as many girls in the HTX area as possible. This requires me not only to oversee the programming staff as they both engage new schools as partners in GEN’s vision to help 50,000 girls ignite their power by 2020 but also the implementation of the program in schools we already service. All of this cannot be achieved without my primary focus which is raising funds to support this important work.
I am most excited and also intimidated about taking on a role which is new for the organization and to make it my own. Challenging myself in a new way outside of my comfort zone to reach my own fullest potential and positively impact as many girls as possible!
What do you think is one of the biggest challenges girls today are facing?
Our society today continues to be challenging place for girls. A place were the power distribution, cost of living, compensation, are inequitable and favor men. We tell girls they can do anything but society sends them the opposite message everywhere they turn. Its especially hard to escape now with the constant presence of media, setting up unrealistic and often unattainable examples of what women, girls, and daughters should be. Yet I truly believe we are close to a tipping point towards gender equality. This is why our work at GEN is so critical, when we create empowered girls we create empowered leaders who will transform our society for the better.
What’s one word to describe you in middle school?
AWKWARD- I think this is probably what comes to mind for most people when they think back to those years but for me it was true on so many levels. I switched schools from a small private school where I felt popular and confident to a public school and immediately felt like a fish out of water. It was a tough time but a transition that challenged me and taught me I was resilient