Interview with Katlyn Grasso by Inspirational Women Series
Katlyn Grasso is the Founder and CEO of GenHERation, an interactive media company that provides high school and college girls with access to career exploration, female executives, skill-building activities, and scholarships. Since its inception in 2014, GenHERation has empowered more than 75,000 girls and hosted more than 60 events nationally. Katlyn’s accomplishments have been featured across national media outlets, including Seventeen, Forbes, NBCUniversal, The Huffington Post, Washington Times, Wharton International Business Review, and Wharton Magazine. Beyond GenHERation, Katlyn is an avid researcher who has conducted international research on girl’s leadership development. She also served as the Managing Practice Leader of the Wharton Small Business Development Center. Katlyn graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 with a B.S. in Economics.
What is your background?
I graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2015 where I concentrated in finance and strategic globalization (an individualized concentration that I created that examined how entrepreneurship can be used to solve global problems in a sustainable way). I worked at the Wharton Small Business Development Center as the managing practice leader where I had the opportunity to work with hundreds of entrepreneurs to see how successful businesses operate from the ground up. I was also part of Wharton Ambassadors and Soundworks Tap Factory; I loved my time at Wharton and Penn. I started GenHERation during my junior year of college.
You are the Founder and CEO of GenHERation, a media company for millennial girls. Can you tell us more about GenHERation and what inspired you to found it?
GenHERation provides young women in high school and college with access to career exploration, female executives, skill-building activities, and scholarships. We engage with our audience through our online platform and immersive events like our Summer Leadership Series and Discovery Days. I grew up in Buffalo, New York in an environment that empowered women leaders. I attended an all-girls high school, was a Girls Scout, and was always told that girls can do anything. In college, I realized that there are very few women in the highest positions of power and I wanted to do something about it.
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
I admire Dr. Amy Gutmann, who founded and funded the President’s Engagement Prize to give $150,000 to graduating seniors to develop projects that have the potential to change the world. It was an amazing opportunity I received and I will be eternally grateful for her support. I think that as a woman who leads one of the best universities in the world she’s a great role model for young women.
What are some social impact-related organizations that you admire (for either their business model, impact, or vision)?
I admire TOMS, which is a company GenHERation had the opportunity to visit last summer as part of our Discovery Days tour. They invented the one for one model which was transformative and inspired companies like Warby Parker. Their ethos of social impact is transparent and their employees clearly embody the mission of the company.
What advice do you have for prospective social entrepreneurs who want to start projects related to women’s and girls’ empowerment?
If you want to start a social enterprise, it’s important to identify the problem you’re solving, the channels you will utilize to reach your consumers, (website, product, app, etc.), and how your business is going to be sustainable. Most importantly, never give up!
Are there websites, books, or films that are inspiring you right now about gender equality, social impact, and business?
My favorite empowering website is GenHERation.com! A few of my favorite books are The Lean Startup, Freakonomics, and The Power of Habit because they highlight frameworks that can be uses to solve any problem.