Note: It’s the Harnisch Foundation, but the Harnisches are outnumbered by the professionals who lead the daily operations and whose ideas shape our work. Chief among them is Executive Director Jenny Raymond, who takes the mic today to share the latest on a project she has spearheaded, nurtured, and introduces today.
The Beginnings of Funny Girls
A long-standing value of the Harnisch Foundation has been to ensure that all women recognize their potential as leaders now and in the future — and at all phases of their leadership journey. Since 1998, we have invested in an array of leadership programs, providing training, coaching, and mentoring for changemakers, media entrepreneurs, and other innovators. With Funny Girls, we are now seizing an opportunity to develop and invest in the leadership development of a younger generation in an inventive way. Cue the music….
In early 2016, we embarked in collaboration with our creative partners — the Magnet Theater and Pilobolus Dance Theater — to create a 10-class curriculum that uses improv as a vehicle to teach leadership skills to girls ages 8-13. Improv provides a space for girls to explore their own reactions and feelings, to take bold risks, and to celebrate their own unique ideas and contributions. By combining this with the teaching of core leadership skills — resiliency, collaboration, empathy, agility, and self-awareness — girls embark in translating the risks they take in improv scenes to understanding their own natural capacity to contribute and lead in their day-to-day lives. They begin to learn how to lead themselves – the precursor to effectively leading others.
We tested our approach this past fall in three New York City schools with students of various grades, socioeconomic backgrounds, and cultural contexts. We are over the moon with our partners, The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, HYPOTHEkids at Teachers College Community School, and Riverdale Country School, and look forward to sharing the outcomes of the pilots with you soon.
2017 and Beyond
As you know, the Harnisch Foundation’s mission is to create a fair, equitable, and inclusive world. No small feat. We know that we can’t truly achieve that unless we tackle inequities related to things like race, ability, or sexual orientation in addition to gender. That’s why our next group of Funny Girls’ partners will be organizations that take an intersectional approach, groups that chew at the roots of inequalities. Our partners will include and invest in girls who are most impacted by inequities to lead the way to solutions. Together we will develop the next generation of young leaders who smash patriarchy.
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With a mighty fist bump and a hearty laugh,
Photo credit (top to bottom): Tim Lee, Brittany Buongiorno, and Brittany Buongiorno