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  • 23 Sep 2022 6:12 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    The weekend of August 12th, myself and two young BPW members from the NYC chapter, Ms. Djenabou Bah and Ms. Rafath Gnabode, attended the 27th annual Youth Assembly hosted by AFS. We were able to attend this conference thanks to generous funding from BPW International.

    I learned about the Youth Assembly through an advertisement on LinkedIn. It seemed a great way to network with youth from around the world, learn new skills, and promote BPW and our work. When I mentioned the conference in the YBPW Global WhatsApp group, I was encouraged to go by past International YBPW Chair Neelima Basnet, who had previously attended and said the experience changed her life.

    The conference was attended by hundreds of youth delegates from over 60 countries. The opening ceremony took place on International Youth Day in the United Nations ECOSOC chamber; it was an exciting experience. Throughout the weekend, various panel discussions were hosted featuring industry leaders and fellow youth making a difference.

    It was inspiring to see so many young people taking steps to address the challenges they saw in their communities and the world.

    I attended one panel hosted by Youth Assembly alums and learned how they used their experience at the conference to create new movements and initiatives. I hope to have a similar story to share next year!

    During the second day of the conference, I had the pleasure of presenting the Afghan Women Project during a live pitch to a panel of judges as one of the finalists for the AFS Young Global Citizens award. Although we ultimately did not win the award, it was an honor to be selected as a finalist.

    Afghan Women Project presentation

    The experience presented an amazing opportunity to share about BPW and our work. Many people approached me after the pitch, asking how they could be involved with the project and recommending organizations for collaboration. Several people asked about chapters in various countries, including Peru, Colombia, Nigeria, and Senegal. I felt truly honored to be representing BPW at the Youth Assembly.

    Beyond the programs offered at the Youth Assembly, the networking opportunities were fantastic. One person I spoke with was an employee of AFS who represents the organization at the UN. He was so impressed by my work on the Afghan Women Project that he invited me to interview for a position on the UN Department of Global Communications Youth Representative Steering Committee, of which he is a senior advisor. This would be an excellent opportunity for BPW to strengthen our relationship and presence at the UN and increase the notoriety of our organization. I would love to discuss this opportunity with our UN representatives.

    Attending the Youth Assembly proved a great way to market BPW and provided professional growth and networking for our members.

    I would love to have more YBPW members worldwide be able to attend next year. I think there is great potential for marketing and bringing in new members. Thank you, again, for providing the funding for our young members in NYC to be able to attend this event. Hopefully, we will be able to attend again next year!

    By Emily VanVleck
    Young BPW Chair

  • 23 Sep 2022 5:58 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    I am honored to have had the opportunity to attend the Youth Assembly: Dare to Reshape the World as a delegate for the National Federation of Business and Professional Women Club. It was an exciting and informative experience for those three days from August 12-14th. 

    The program in general held various themes on the UN SDGS. Among the topics were diversity, equity and inclusion in global careers, education in crisis: refugees and displaced persons, bridging digital divide and technological advancements, the roles of young people in promoting and implementing the sustainable development goals, climate change, leadership, etc.!

    The opening ceremony took place at United Nations Headquarters where AFS Youth Assembly delegates and leaders joined live to celebrate the International Youth Day. Among the program were some opening remarks from various leaders, a panel discussion on intergenerational solidarity and a special NYC Mayoral Proclamation.

    Day 2 was filled with engaging panels and workshops. We attended the career opportunities at the Opportunities Fair where we had the opportunities to navigate global opportunities and build connections.

    The exhibition showcased international non-profits, UN programs and agencies, and corporations as well as campaigns and initiatives to be involved in. The most exciting part of that second day was the AFS Award for Young Global Citizens pitches. This award recognizes young people for their commitment to improve the global community and contribution to a more just, peaceful, and tolerant world.

    What made it more exciting for me is the fact that Emily Vanvleck, my colleague, and delegate from the NFBPWC was among the 10 selected finalists to pitch their projects in front of a panel of juries to win $10,000. She delivered an amazing presentation about the NFBPWC’s Afghan Women Project.

    NFBPWC attends Youth AssemblyThe wrap day was also filled with engaging activities, panels, and workshops and a project showcase where I was selected to participate in the Youth Assembly’s Action and Impact Hub: Project Showcase. This was a great opportunity for delegates to show off the impactful projects they have been working on. There again, Emily and I had the opportunity to present our work to other delegates and attendees by providing a poster board and flyers about the NFBPWC’s Afghan Women Project.

    We also had the chance to interact with other presenters regarding their project. The program ended with a CultureFest with live performances and a Cultural Fashion Show where delegates from over 60 countries wore their national attire, went on stage to celebrate diversity.

    I got a lot from this Youth Assembly. The Impact Hub Showcase gave me the opportunity to talk to other delegates about their work and campaigns and how our organization can collaborate with them.

    At the Opportunity Fair, I also had the opportunity to interact with leaders and learned about different companies, initiatives and campaigns that will be great to get involved with. At the CultureFest,  I was exposed and learned about new cultures and countries' flags.

    From the  workshops and panel discussion, I learned more about grants, ways to approach them and various websites to find them. I also learned about fellowships and scholarship programs that can be very beneficial to the organization. I also got various networking contacts from the UN Civil society and organization, the USAID, UNDP etc.

    I can't thank the NFBPWC enough for this great opportunity as I can not quantify the experience, knowledge and network I got from that Assembly.

    By Djenabou Bah
    NFBPWC/Young BPW

  • 23 Sep 2022 5:44 PM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    It was an immense pleasure to have the opportunity to attend the Youth Assembly this year. This was my first time ever attending the Youth Assembly with AFS and I would say it was an amazing experience. The first day of the Youth Assembly was August 12th which was International Youth Day.

    The location was at the United Nations Headquarters where countless Youths gathered from all over the world. I had the opportunity to learn more about the amazing work that youths are accomplishing in their home countries. I was also able to have a conversation with these said people on their projects and how they came about. I met people with so much wisdom, passion, empathy, and drive to make the world a better place.

    Being able to see people who are around the same age as me taking on huge projects and having such a great influence on people’s lives was without a doubt incredible.

    I learned about the importance of the youth of today leading and being part of decision-making. I’m now more than ever driven to put my ideas and plans into action.

    Young BPW at Youth AssemblyIn addition to the amazing youths I met, I’ve also made connections with amazing well-known staff of organizations, programs, and corporations. I believe that with them on our side, we’ll be able to achieve so much and greatly impact people. I was also influenced by the work they’re each doing in their respective organizations.

    During the following 2 days of the Youth Assembly, we attended sessions, opportunities fairs, and more. Something I learned during these days is the steps I can take toward tackling Sustainable Developments Goals.

    As youths, sometimes we’re not sure how to make our voices heard and what actions we can take to tackle issues rampant in our community.

    I was able to learn from the youths and staff about the actions I can take and the works I can do in my community to achieve the goal of SDGs and other issues I’m passionate about. From my experience at the 27th Youth Assembly, I believe that young leaders are the future.

    Young people in the lead are without a doubt needed more now than ever. We have the power to change the world and it’s time we believe so.

    By Rafath Gnabode
    NFBPWC/Young BPW

  • 28 Aug 2022 11:35 AM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    Hello YBPWers!

    For those who do not yet know me, I’m Emily VanVleck, your newly elected Young BPW Chair for 2022-2024. Although she will always be an honorary YBPW, Ashley Maria is no longer technically YBPW (read her goodbye letter here!), so I have the honor of taking over this role and representing us on our Executive Committee. I’d like to thank Ashley Maria for forging this path for us and advocating for equal representation of Young BPW in the US.

    Emily VanVleck, YBPWC ChairA little about me and my journey with NFBPWC:

    I am an Oregon native and have been living in New York for five years. Professionally, I have worked as a flight attendant for eight years. During the Covid Pandemic, I took a break from my career and returned to school to complete my bachelor’s degree. I graduated from the City College of New York in June 2022, majoring in international studies with a double minor in public policy and human rights. I am passionate about advancing human rights and creating a more equitable world for all.

    I started with NFBPWC in the NYC chapter as their Advocacy/UN intern summer 2021. I was excited to be working with such a historic organization dedicated to women’s equality, and I was intrigued by the consultative status with the UN. I have had quite the journey since joining NFBPWC last year! I have helped found and lead the Afghan Women Project, the subsequent Women on the Move committee, and have been appointed the YBPW Representative for NYC. Now I take on my most exciting role as part of the National Executive Committee! I am proof that you can do pretty incredible things with your NFBPWC membership.

    My mission for this term:

    I was excited to join NFBPWC, however, once I was a member, I wasn’t exactly sure what was going on or how I could get more involved. It wasn’t until the start of the Afghan Women Project that I felt I was engaging with the organization. This is why my first goal as YBPW Chair is to help you find ways to engage with the organization and make the most of your membership – whatever that means for you!

    • Do you want to create projects and advocacy campaigns that make a difference for young women? I’m here to help!
    • Do you want to hang out and chat with fellow young professionals and students? Let’s chat!
    • Do you have specific professional skills you’d like to develop? I will work with the L3 committee to set it up!

    Young BPW night out

    We all joined NFBPWC for a reason – I want to know your reason.

    My next goal as YBPW Chair is to get more YBPW in leadership positions and working on committees. I helped create the Afghan Women Project because I wanted to help people. Not only has the work I have done been incredibly rewarding, but it has also been great for my resume and expanded my professional network. I have no doubt that it will one day help me land my dream job. I want to help each of you get the same value out of this organization as I have.

    I want our organization to be a force to be reckoned with.

    NFBPWC founders helped pass the Equal Pay Act prohibiting pay discrimination based on sex and ensuring equal pay for equal work. That is the prestige and power I hope to see restored to NFBPWC. I want us to be known as an organization that makes things happen.

    • I plan to strengthen our collaborations with like-minded organizations and increase our presence at the UN,
    • I hope to accomplish this by creating more projects focused on issues facing business and professional women, like the Afghan Women Project, and 
    • I plan to attend more youth conferences where we can network with our fellow youths and learn about organizations working towards similar goals.

    Lastly, I want to increase our YBPW and NFBPWC student members. I started this organization as an intern, then became a student member. I am now sitting on the Executive Committee as a full member. Student memberships are beneficial for our entire organization. We must make this organization more attractive to students and work with our chapters across the US to implement more student membership programs.

    I know these are ambitious goals, but I am dedicated to seeing them through. I look forward to working hard to create an organization that makes a real difference for women and attracts members who want to join our momentum.

    I’d love to hear from you – what you hope to get from your NFBPWC membership, your future career goals, and any projects you’d like to start. Please reach out to me anytime and I look forward to meeting you soon!

  • 2 Aug 2022 8:40 AM | Lea-Ann W. Berst (Administrator)

    As my time as your Young BPW NFBPWC Representative comes to a close, I’d like to brag about all of our successes! I've enjoyed my time as a leader with NFBPWC these past two years and am grateful for the chance to bring together USA’s Young BPW members.

    In 2019, I was selected by BPW International to represent the North American regions as a delegate to the United Nations. They were doing a huge push to bring in more Young BPW from around the world, thanks to the leadership of the Young BPW International Representative at the time, Neelima Basnet. She knew that bringing Young BPW to the UN would help us see the potential reach of this organization and encourage us to get more involved. 

    It certainly worked for me! 

    A week after I returned I called Sandy Thompson, the NFBPWC President, and asked if we had someone as the Young BPW Chair for the USA? We did not! Well…I wanted in! Then, with the new leadership team chosen during General Assembly in 2020, I was honored to be voted in as part of the Executive Committee (EC). I was the first Young BPW representative ever on the EC.

    My first goal in this leadership role was to figure out who were the other Young BPW members in the USA! I didn’t know any of them, and we didn’t have a process yet to find them in our system. So, I approached membership chairs, presidents of clubs, even international members to get their list of known Young BPW in the USA. Then I went to work on getting us organized and learning more about each other with each Young BPW Member Spotlight.

    My next goal was to improve communication so that Young BPW members knew more about what was going on in the organization.This started with bi-weekly emails to introduce them to the benefits of what NFBPWC had to offer. From there, we had quarterly meetings – sometimes with a skills lesson like negotiating – but most often it was just a time to chat and get to know each other. It was something a Young BPW member could look forward to – meeting other ambitious women like them. The Zoom software made this a whole lot easier to connect and see how truly vast our membership was across America.

    While I was building our Young BPW community, I kept in the back of my mind what encouraged me to get more involved – seeing what members were doing on a National and International level, too. So, I worked with the EC to create more affordable student membership options that would also gain them membership to National and International communications. From here, our member numbers grew exponentially. We now have 35 Young BPW members across the United States and counting!

    In addition to building our community, I also wanted to build our purpose. Young BPW is more than the technology we grew up with. We have so much to offer. Most of us run our own departments or our own companies. Knowing the organizational culture had to change quickly, Young BPW members were encouraged and supported to take on leadership roles in NFBPWC. From the inspired Afghan Women Project to the impactful Health Committee, our Young BPW members are stepping up and having their voices heard in this organization, an organization that takes pride in advocating for women.

    I’ve been a member of BPW since high school – even directing a documentary about our history, called Business and Professional Women: A History, A Movement. Since then, I have directed many more projects, including Pioneers in Skirts, which – yes – did premiere in the pandemic! It’s time for me to hit all gears again on many new projects, so I bid you adieu!

    Moving forward, I am confident we can keep this momentum going in the next administration. I hope for more Young BPW, and our members in general, to take on more leadership roles, or participate in one of our many committees.

    Being part of committee is the easiest and fastest way to learn the ins and outs of the organization. And this organization really gives you back what you put into it. I’m a perfect example of that. I’ve learned so much and met such amazing people – friends for life!

    I’m very grateful for these two years! Goodbye from your 2020-2022 Young BPW NFBPWC Representative and I look forward to the amazing things that will come from the leadership of our new incoming Young BPW Chair 2022-2024!

    Ashley Maria


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