#HowSheDidIt is our series highlighting different paths of women with similar experience or passion as shining examples that there’s no one right path, just the one you’re blazing.
The world of women building communities for women is collaborative, not competitive — the more focus there is on supporting the many identities and experiences that make up our lives as women, the better! Here are a few trailblazers that are building inclusive, impactful communities for women — and the trails that led them to do so.
Ankita Vashistha has been a long-time advocate for women-founded and women-focused businesses. That passion has led her to start two venture funds and make angel investments in women entrepreneurs, and lead the SheStrongHer foundation to advance women in entrepreneurship and innovation. As a world traveler that has lived in 4 countries and speaks 3 (going on 4) languages, Ankita’s appreciation for and understanding of different cultures gives her an impactful advantage in recognizing untapped potential and empowering women to achieve new heights.
Ashley Kervabon-Stoyanov is the true definition of a multi-hyphenate woman. As a French-Latina entrepreneur, writer, musician, world traveler and community builder, she has brought together communities of women that share her passions and identities. Ashley manages the community at The Mujerista Network to bring together millennial Latinas, and founded the nonprofit #WomxnCrushMusic to support and amplify women songwriters. Her ability to lead thriving communities while also working at tech companies and prioritizing her passions is an inspiration.
Ingrid Read is a shining example of how motherhood can positively change the trajectories of not just our personal, but also our professional lives. After having her son, she saw the opportunity for a strong community of mothers that could support each other through personal and professional aspirations. This led her to starting Working Momkind, now a thriving community of over 200k members. Her own journey has evolved from being an EdTech account manager to community manager and postpartum doula during this time—a testament to the power of community-based encouragement and support.
Jill Johnson’s career path has taken her from a family business to investment banking to founding a nonprofit that supports entrepreneurs, the Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership. Through that journey, she discovered a passion and need for supporting women of color entrepreneurs. This led her to start the Women of Color Connecting (WOCCON) program, which focuses on closing the funding and opportunity gaps for women of color that are starting and growing businesses. Through programming and a supportive community, including an annual summit and cohort-based success circles, they are working to create $1B of net wealth for women of color over the next 10 years.
Naimeesha Murthy’s passion for supporting women through product careers is twofold: she aims to see more women in these innovative and challenging roles, and she wants to see the people building products reflect the people using them. That led her to found Products By Women, a global network of women in innovation, tech and beyond. Naimeesha lives these same values out across areas of her life through mentoring, advising and investing in women founders, and by authentically sharing her own journey through speaking and writing.
Ochuko Akpovbovbo didn’t wait until she had it all figured out (do any of us ever, really?) before finding ways to help other women own and navigate their journeys. She started Parachute Media—a platform that empowers Gen Z and Millennial women and nonbinary folks of color to reclaim their narratives and redefine success on their own terms—while still in college. Since then she has graduated, launched her career, and grown Parachute Media to employ dozens and reach thousands of women of color. She’s an incredible example of how owning her own narrative opens the doors for others to do the same.
Ramona Arora not only built her own community for women, but is a major driving force in other communities as well, including Products by Women and OwnTrail! Her entire trail is a stunning example of mentorship (as a mentor and mentee), volunteerism, problem solving and adventure. One prominent category of adventure for her has been solo traveling, which led her to start SoloWave — a community platform empowering women to explore solo. Through the friendships and resources that the SoloWave community facilitates, she proves that being alone is not the same thing as being lonely.
Riana Singh started a community based on a need she was experiencing herself: seeking connection and inspiration as an unemployed new grad. Boss Women Collective focuses on empowering women through personal development and professional growth. As the community expanded and the pandemic hit, Riana led a transition from IRL to URL programming, furthering the scale and impact of BWC. Her passion for authentically sharing her own journey has helped create the space and confidence for thousands of early-career women to do the same.
Shalini Tripathi is driven by empathy. As an immigrant who experienced traumatic bullying and racism after moving to the US along with a lack of relatable role models, she has channeled those experiences into helping other women find the support and guidance they need. Shalini’s nonprofit, Embrace Her Lead, provides cohort-based mentoring to help women navigate professional endeavors while providing support in mental, emotional, and personal growth. She sees the potential for an “empathy revolution” through the community and resources that Embrace Her Lead provides, and we are here for it.
Téa Angelos channeled her own uncertainty about life and career paths, along with her passion for bringing people together and simplifying complex topics, into an online education platform that empowers and educates women to get smart about their money, career, wellbeing and love. Téa started Smart Women Society from her home in Brisbane, Australia, and has seen it grow to over 100k community members across the world. During that time, she grew through her career as well, ultimately making the leap to leading SWS full-time.
Are you as inspired as we are? Connect with these trailblazers, appreciate their trails, and start conversations to learn more!