Jacki Zehner On Women, Money, and Changing the World

April 24, 2017

How Do We Rethink…? Can the Leaders of Tomorrow Solve the Problems of Today?

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on April 24th, 2017.

The Kairos Global Summit just concluded in New York City, and I was honored to participate in this year’s event by posing a question to the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. I was one of 43 to do so, including legends like Sir Ronald Cohen (APEX, Impact Investing), Esther Wojcicki (Journalist), and John Scully (Apple), as well as newer rock stars like MelanieWhelan (Soul Cycle) and Casey Neistat (Filmmaker and more). The event was set up like a reverse Shark Tank of sorts, and we were each given just three minutes to pitch. Three.

Some background on Kairos. The Kairos Society was founded eight years ago to bring together the leaders of tomorrow and put them to work solving the problems of today. Kairos recruits its Fellows from over 100 of the top universities in the world across 50 different countries, and asks these future leaders to rethink the current status quo. How can technology be used to disrupt or improve existing industries? How can entrepreneurs tackle the world’s most pressing issues? What would happen if tomorrow’s leaders started working on those issues now? Since its formation, Kairos Fellows have gone on to found companies such as Frenome, Periscope, and Digital Genius, and collectively these companies have raised over $600 million in capital. Pretty impressive.

As an event junkie there were so many things that made this one so special, but what was…

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March 22, 2017

(Un) Hidden Figures – It’s About Time

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on March 22nd, 2017

I, like many people, watched the Oscars last month, but unlike most people, for me, the Best Picture category was not a two horse race. In my mind, it was already decided long before the ceremony began. With all due respect to La La Land and Moonlight, as far as I’m concerned the best film of last year was Hidden Figures. It may even be one of my favourite films ever, although I’m reserving judgement on that until I see Wonder Woman in June. But for now, Hidden Figures is my pick, and if you haven’t seen it yet, I can’t recommend it enough. This film manages to make math and science as exciting and action packed as any recent superhero movie, and it tells a story that was long since overdue for recognition. For those of you who have yet to discover this incredible film, Hidden Figures tells the story of Dorothy Vaughan, Katherine Johnson, and Mary Jackson, three African-American female scientists working for NASA at the height of the space race in the early 1960s.

The story of the race to put a human into space is well known, as are the names of John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin, but as is so often the case, the people behind the scenes rarely receive the recognition they deserve. In particular,…

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March 08, 2017

The Evidence is In: 400 Reports to Support Gender Lens Giving and Investing

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on March 8th, 2017.

Today is International Women’s Day, which is observed every year on March 8th. The first known observance of International Women’s Day was in 1909 in New York, and although it may have humble origins, this day has since grown into a worldwide movement, a day of activism, and in some countries, a public holiday. Since 1996, an official theme for International Women’s Day has been chosen by the United Nations, and this year, the theme is Women in the Changing World of Work: Planet 50-50 by 2030. Not coincidentally, this year’s celebrations will be marked by worldwide women’s strikes, dubbed A Day Without Women, as well as protests for equal pay and gender equality. Every year brilliant people write impassioned pieces about women’s rights, why it matters, and what needs to change going forward, so be sure to follow the conversation online at #IWD2017 and #beboldforchange.

So what can I add to this conversation? Research. Before I became a full-time philanthropist and investor, I worked on Wall Street. I was a trader at Goldman Sachs, and I relied heavily on research to inform my investment decisions. Which securities and sectors had value and which did not? The answers to these questions were to be found in the research. After leaving Wall Street and turning my attention more fully to the issue of…

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