Heather Barnabe + G(irls)20
Meet Heather. She's the CEO of G(irls)20, an organization dedicated to creating the next generation of female leaders through programs that provide mentorship, leadership training and global experiences. After working on girls' education initiatives and women's health projects in Asia, South America and Africa, she is excited for the opportunity to take G(irls)20 to the next level.
Why do you do what you do?
It’s pretty simple: that any women or girl can’t achieve her ambitions because of gender discrimination makes my blood boil. Since time immemorial, women, particularly marginalized women, haven’t been afforded the same opportunities as men. I have the privilege of running an organization that aims to close that gap and provides mentorship, training and global experiences to a new cohort of young female leaders that give me all kinds of hope for our future. Being the CEO of G(irls)20 is an intersectional feminist dream and I couldn't be more work-fortunate.
What is one thing you hope never changes?
The cultural shift to address gender and other social inequalities. Don’t get me wrong, it’s happening slowly and the pace of change can be maddening. But it’s happening. In particular, I love watching the millennial generation use their voices, leverage their platforms and adeptly lead many of the movements afoot.
When do you feel most alive?
I hate public speaking but when I have the opportunity to talk about our work at G(irls)20, there is a swell of emotion in me. I’m incredibly alert, my voice shakes and I keep my hands clasped together so that my nerves aren’t on full display. To counteract the nerves and deliver any speech well, I try to be very prepared by drawing on every conversation, email and message exchange I’ve had with the breathtaking young women G(irls)20 supports.
While I’m not great at public speaking, I feel so alive when doing it and am committed to getting better because G(irls)20 program participants deserve my best work when representing the organization and programs that support them.
What are you really good at, but kind of embarrassed that you're so good at it?
Making my apartment seem tidy for guests, when, in fact, it is not.
What's the hardest lesson you've had to learn?
The fine line between the value of feedback and trusting your own voice. For women, there is a constant barrage of feedback directed at them – about their bodies, their biological clocks, their work styles, too this, too that etc. It can be relentless. Equally, understanding valuable feedback strengthens your character, improves your work ethic and increases your success.
The best bosses I’ve had have gently but firmly guided me to understand my strengths and address weaknesses while always encouraging me to trust my own voice.
What's the title of the current chapter of your life?
(*In Rihanna's voice*) Work, work, work ,work, work, work.