In 2013, Kathy Hurley and Deb deVries, lifelong colleagues in the education industry, began discussing the formation of a non-profit to support and assist organizations that focused on educating and empowering girls and young women around the world.
Kathy, at the time, was the Executive Vice President for Education Alliances at the Pearson Foundation, an organization that operated programs and supported charitable entities around the world that provided educational services to girls and young women. In the fall of 2013, Kathy learned that she had been asked to participate in the 2014 Harvard Advanced Learning Initiative (ALI). One of the goals of the ALI program is to spend some time determining how you can give back as you begin to move into your “retirement years”. During the first half of the ALI program, Kathy submitted a draft of the concept that she and Deb had created in 2013. One of the professors for the ALI program noticed that their concept was complementary to that of Cass Walker and Liz Texeira, who were students in Harvard’s Graduate Program for International Studies and Social Entrepreneurship.
Introductions were made and as they began to discuss their separate visions they realized that the best way to move their ideas forward was to collaborate and join forces. As full-time students at Harvard, Cass and Liz applied for the very competitive and prestigious Education Entrepreneurship Summer Fellowship from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. They were awarded the fellowship, which included a generous stipend and allowed them to begin using Harvard’s iLab resources and tools to move a concept or idea into a start-up organization.
As they began to move from concept to reality, John Conley, another ALI Fellow and Partner at Gilliam Capital, became a founding Board Member to help navigate the financial and legal waters of establishing a non-profit. By the end of 2014, they had successfully incorporated Girls Thinking Global, began the application process for tax-exempt status and completed production of their first documentary, The Heart of Everything: Jungle Mamas – Changemakers in the Amazon, of which Cass Walker and Liz Texeria served as Executive Producers.
Thanks to their collaborative efforts, Girls Thinking Global entered 2015 firmly established. While Cass and Liz both moved on to other exciting career opportunities, and John is now working with other philanthropic start-ups, their contributions to Girls Thinking Global is still being felt and we are proud to have had them as co-founding members of an organization that is poised to do great things to support organizations around the world dedicated to the empowerment and education of adolescent girls and young women.