Zofia Kierner is the Founder of Girls Future Ready Foundation.
Tell us about the professional journey that took you where you are today. What major lessons did you learn along the way?
I was born in Poland, lived in a few places around the world, and just moved to Boston over the summer to start my 11th grade at Phillips Exeter Academy. I started my first charity project when I was 8: donating children’s books to help kids in Poland learn English, the most important language in the world. Now I’ve donated about 20 thousand children’s books and my work for children in Poland was recognized by the President of Poland. As I grew up, I noticed that there is more that can be improved in Central Eastern European Countries so I started Girls Future Ready Foundation to help young women feel more confident in their abilities and succeed in the global world. Our programs: Girls English Ready, Girls Global Ready and HerStory are gaining popularity and positive feedback. I take experiences and observations from the US to help girls in Central Eastern Europe be better prepared for international careers by boosting confidence, building English skills and public presentation skills.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I’m a high school student and the founder of Girls Future Ready Foundation, and that dictates what my day looks like. I just started by Upper (11th grade) year at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, NH. This is a boarding school, with a pretty rigorous curriculum so my typical day consists of academics, homework as well as sports. On top of this, I work on Girls Future Ready Foundation whether that is writing emails during my free period or brainstorming an outline of a new project late at night. Even though school comes first, Girls Future Ready is never second in my mind. Running this passion project is like a full-time job over what I already spend on school so it is definitely a time investment out of my life and occupies a significant time of my day outside of academics and athletics.
What do you wish founders knew about before meeting you? What about female founders specifically?
What might come as a shock to many, I don’t face a lot of discrimination because I’m a woman but more because I’m a young woman. I often feel like I am not treated like an equal within the world of business and entrepreneurship because I am younger than many of the other founders. The world is slowly becoming more accustomed to seeing women in the positions of founders, CEOs and executives, which is so great to see! However, discrimination against young people is still a huge barrier. We are expected to be future leaders, doctors, founders, inventors and scientists yet when we have any initiative that we want to pursue, we seem to face heavy amounts of distrust and lack of support. I am getting tired to hear voices around me that the young generation is lazy and ignorant. Before knowing me, I wish that founders knew the power that young people hold. All we need is some of your time to listen and trust us in our work!