HERlead Fellowship

The HERlead Fellowship 

Training and Empowering the Next Generation of Female Leaders

Since 2011, over 250 high school girls from across the U.S. have been trained, mentored, and inspired to become the next generation of female leaders and 165 social impact projects have been funded through the HERlead Fellowship - formerly known as the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative - a fellowship for young women on their way. A groundbreaking partnership between ANN, parent company of Ann Taylor, LOFT, and Lou & Grey, and Vital Voices, the preeminent non-governmental organization (NGO) whose mission is to invest in women leaders who improve the world, the HERlead Fellowship is designed to empower young women and equip them with the leadership skills they need to affect global progress, invest in their communities and begin their journeys as the next generation of leaders.

As a family of brands, ANN inspires and connects with women to put their best selves forward every day. Through products, experiences and impact-oriented programs, the company is dedicated to helping women find their voice, lead and be remarkable, but we know it takes more than that. To truly thrive in our life journeys, we need mentors, guides, friends, allies and a devoted circle of support. In fact, numerous studies and established leaders today credit mentors for their success and achievements, which is why mentorship is central to the HERlead Fellowship.

Through a series of forums, grants, and relationship-building opportunities with peers and influential women leaders from various backgrounds, HERlead provides intimate mentorship moments, customized leadership training, and valuable skills and tools to inspire young women, help them realize their leadership potential, and change the world. The HERlead Fellowship invites young women in their sophomore and junior years of high school to apply to become HERlead Fellows which will give them unique opportunities to experience:


  • HERlead Leadership Forum: A four-day Forum hosted in ANN’s hometown of New York City in June 2017 where 30 Fellows are able to connect with a powerful network of ANN executives and global women leaders from business, politics, entertainment and the media to cultivate their own leadership abilities. During the Forum, Fellows are introduced to unique leadership and communications trainings, presentations on real-world solutions for social change, mentorship opportunities, and the chance to learn about their personal style to help them put their best selves forward every day.
  • HERlead Project Grant: Following the Forum, the HERlead Fellows return to their communities and put their training into action by developing projects that address pressing societal issues that relate to economic empowerment, the environment, public health, education, political and public leadership, and human rights. Each Fellow will be eligible to receive a HERlead Project Grant to help bring their world-changing ideas to life. From 2014 Fellow, Nadya Okamoto, who founded a nonprofit that has sent 16,000 care packages to 38 nonprofit partners in 12 states and nine countries to alleviate menstrual hygiene obstacles to 2015 Fellow, Amanda Gorman, whose advocacy organization, One Pen One Page, promotes youth literacy and leadership through workshops, an online platform, partnership campaigns, and an annual symposium, these remarkable young women have been inspired by the HERlead Fellowship to mobilize change globally. To date, the HERlead Fellowship has funded 165 HERlead projects which have positively impacted more than 65,000 people in 20 countries around the world.
  • HERlead Ambassador Forum: Twenty Fellows from previous cohorts are invited to participate in a four-day Forum in Washington, D.C. to further develop their technical capacity in the areas of strategic planning, marketing/PR, measurement, budgeting and financing; network with their peers; and consult with ANN representatives, Vital Voices leadership, and other experts. Through hands-on sessions, the participants will develop deeper skills, tools and insights so they can have a greater impact in their communities and serve as an inspiration to other current and potential Fellows who are also working to change the world.
  • HERlead Advisory Council: The Advisory Council is comprised of thought leaders from around the world in media, business and entertainment who have displayed exceptional leadership. Some of these remarkable women include Anne Fulenwider (editor-in-chief of the U.S. edition of Marie Claire), Jennifer Morrison (currently stars in ABC’s drama series, Once Upon a Time), Kay Krill (Board Member of ascena retail group, Inc. and former president/CEO of ANN INC.) and Alyse Nelson (president, CEO and cofounder of Vital Voices Global Partnership), who are intimately involved in the HERlead Fellowship and serve as mentors for the girls.

The HERlead Fellowship strives to create a world where young remarkable women can pursue their bright futures with confidence. By encouraging them to shine fearlessly, we build a stronger tomorrow—one girl and one ambition at a time.