On Sunday, April 11, the second KO Power of Women forum, featuring four remarkable professional women, was held via Zoom.
“We hosted four incredible panelists who share a passion for leadership and women’s empowerment,” Director of Leadership Giving and KO Power of Women Advisor Jane Rotter said. The four panelists included Taryn Braz ’14, the Special Events Assistant in the Fan and Youth Engagement department of the Boston Red Sox; Karen Jarmoc P’14,’14,’17, the Assistant Vice President and Corporate Sustainability Leader at The Hartford; Cindy Shi P’25, the Senior Digital Project Leader for the Barnes Group; and Jessica P. Zachs P’09,’11, the Founder and Chair of Dignity Grows. “These panelists were chosen because of their unique professional careers and their passion for empowering young women,” Mrs. Rotter said. “Each of them believe that it is important to give back to the community.”
KO Power of Women is an organization that strives to educate and inspire the community by fostering an environment in which powerful female voices are celebrated. KO Power of Women was established in 2018 to connect KO students with passionate, professional women in the KO community and beyond.
“After meeting with incredible alumni women, I realized that they could have a powerful impact on our current students, and so the KO Power of Women was born,” Mrs. Rotter said. It is now the largest student-run organization on campus with more than 70 students. “This year due to the pandemic we had to pivot to online forums,” Mrs. Rotter said, “but the enthusiasm of the program continues to build.”
This excitement over KO Power of Women was demonstrated by the success of the spring 2021 forum. “We had the highest signup and attendance rate ever,” senior co-chair Sloan Duvall said. “We had over 170 people sign up. All four of our panelists were so amazing and unique and they each brought up really interesting topics.”
In preparing for the forum, members of the KO Power of Women student committee compiled a list of questions, which the four guests responded to. Throughout the event, attendees were invited to use the chat’s question and answer feature to pose questions. Despite the webinar-style, the aim was to keep the content as immersive as possible.
The panelists were asked questions on a variety of topics and did an excellent job of being articulate and relatable. They explained how they were able to discover, do, and be extremely competitive in a profession they enjoyed while pursuing their natural passions and interests. Women were asked about how their high school interests have transferred into their professional lives, as well as how they are helping to break down barriers in the STEM field.
Not only in terms of the number of participants but also in terms of the influence they have on the community, KO Power of Women continues to shine. For the first time, the organization created an award to recognize a female-led non-profit that is creating a difference in women’s lives. The co-chairs declared that Dignity Grows will be the recipient at the end of the program. In addition, to support the organization’s continuing campaign, KO students have also planned to assemble bags and totes packed with these feminine hygiene items to donate to Journey Home, another local non-profit that is leading the fight to end homelessness.
Junior Olivia Reynolds, who is on the executive committee of KO Power of Women, was most excited to hear from Jessica Zachs. “I had the opportunity to meet her with the other members of the executive board prior to the forum, and she was so genuine and kind,” she said. Olivia could tell she was truly passionate about her work, and she couldn’t wait to hear her speak about her journey.
Sloan shared Olivia’s eagerness to hear Jessica speak. “One part that stuck with me was when we asked Jessica what is the best piece of advice she had received. She talked about how her uncle told her to really listen to the stories of other people and try to understand the people around her,” Sloan said. “She spoke about how that stuck with her whole life and kind of was in the back of her mind when she found dignity grows.”
Junior Emma Levinbook, a member of the executive committee of KO Power of Women, also anticipated Jessica Zachs’s visit. “I think [Dignity Grows] is such a unique and inspiring cause that I had not heard about prior to joining KO Power of Women,” Emma said. “She is taking such a strong leadership role in an environment where oftentimes women are not celebrated for all that they do.”. Emma said she felt that all the women featured in the webinar are amazing in their own ways, but she is particularly inspired by Zachs.
Jessica Zachs herself was also elated to be a panelist for the spring forum. “I was incredibly excited to speak to the young women who are part of Power of Women,” Jessica said. “I think it is so important for young people to have the ability to find what they are passionate about, and I love that all the girls part of this club understand the importance of this initiative and know that they can make a difference.”
Junior Katharine Doar, another member of the KO Power of Women executive committee, was enthusiastic to hear more about Taryn Braz. “I think that her job for the Boston Red Sox is just super different and cool, so I was really excited to see what she had to say,” Katharine said.
Overall, despite this event having taken place via Zoom, the KO Power of Women Spring Forum was very successful, and the group continues to empower women in the KO community and beyond.