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The YW Is Proud to Honor Fran Hauser and Kelly Hoey

It’s not every day that pioneering women leaders have their moment in the spotlight. Those committed to creating a better, more sustainable society often work in the trenches without much fanfare.

But the YWCA of the City of New York’s Summer Soiree is an annual event where such change agents get their due. The organization and some of the city’s key social-change advocates and supporters tip their hats to those women doing the mission-driven work of improving lives, communities and institutions. The signature event, held in June, will honor two outstanding recipients of the YWCA’s premier W Award.

Award recipient Kelly Hoey and Fran Hauser are transforming outmoded ideas about women and leadership, while leaving a positive imprint on the communities and industries they touch.

Hoey is a nationally known technology and investment speaker and strategist, advocating for equality and gender diversity in the traditionally male-centered field. She mentors start-up companies and guides major corporate clients through the innovation life cycle, and is well known for her networking and social media know-how, having contributed to projects with The New Yorker, HSBC and New York Life.

Hauser, a partner at Rothenberg Ventures, is a passionate venture capital investor, digital media pioneer and evangelist for women and children. Previously president of digital for Time Inc.’s Style and Entertainment Group, Hauser today is an angel investor, backing multitudes of groundbreaking outfits, while also serving on several organizations and projects in support of women and families around the world.

We recently sat down with these inspiring awardees to discuss personal ambition, social-change opportunities and thoughts about the future.

How does it feel to be a YWCA W Award recipient?

Fran Hauser: It feels awesome! The YWCA’s mission is all about empowering women, and that’s a huge focus for me in my professional and philanthropic life right now. To be recognized for the work I’m doing to increase female representation and elevate women’s voices across the world is truly an honor.

Kelly Hoey: It is truly an honor to be recognized by an organization that has been championing and empowering women in New York City since 1858. New York City has provided me with incredible opportunities since I moved here in 1998, and giving back through the YWCA is one way I can thank a city that has given me so many opportunities.

Who has been influential in inspiring or supporting your path? Who are your heroes (or heroines)?

FH: There have been many people who have influenced me along the way, but a few stand out. The first is Martha Nelson, former editor-in-chief at Time Inc., who has been my mentor for the past eight years. She’s taught me so much, including the need to put humans at the center of consumer products, the ability to balance strategy and execution, and how to accept and value constructive feedback. Another person who has had a big influence on my career is NBCUniversal News Group Chairman Pat Fili Krushel. Pat taught me about the importance of networking and advised me to make time to have at least one networking meeting each day. Finally, my biggest heroes are my parents. Both immigrants, my parents showed me firsthand the power of hard work, ‘stick-to-it-iveness’ and family love.

KH: I have had the good fortune of having many mentors and role models – of all shapes, sizes, genders, ages and socioeconomic statuses – who have championed my career, pushed open closed doors and inspired me to reach further. My heroes are those who actively create opportunities for others – and then champion the success of other people.

What main challenges do girls and women still face in achieving their goals?

FH: There is a ton of opportunity for women and girls right now, but there are still significant hurdles they face in trying to achieve career success. A big part of the problem is that the majority of the decision-makers in most industries are men. For example, just four percent of venture capital (VC) partners are women, which can make it more challenging for women-owned businesses to access funding. From a more global perspective, many women lack access to the education and training they need to be able to pursue their career dreams. The good news, on both counts, is that we’re seeing a lot of progress and that the alliance between women-focused organizations has never been stronger.

KH: I see access to role models and champions as the biggest challenges. So much of what we see in the media on women in business or entrepreneurship focuses on the negative (wage gap, sexual harassment, and deficit of women in the C-Suite or on-boards), which is not the only career story we should be highlighting. It is definitely not a headline that would encourage a young woman to dig deep to pursue her career goals. It’s a focus that marginalizes the women who have persevered and succeeded in their careers. I’m a fan of shining a light very brightly on the accomplishments of women. Discussing those accomplishments as professionals is a way of encouraging others to pursue their goals.

This is both an exciting and challenging time for America, politically, economically and socially. What are you most hopeful about for our future? What concerns you most about our future?

FH: I’m incredibly excited about the businesses that America’s young entrepreneurs are building. The creativity, originality and innovation inspire me on a daily basis. Despite what you may have heard about millennials, I think this generation is anything but lazy. As a country, I’m certainly concerned about the polarization of our political parties, and truly believe that a passion for entrepreneurship is something that can unite the left and right. We should all take pride in the innovative businesses that Americans are building.

KH: It would be a very bleak world if we lost our hope for a better future. My concern is complacency; it is the self-imposed barrier to change, opportunity and improvement.

You’ve already achieved so much. What is next for you?

FH: My focus now is on increasing female representation in the venture capital community and making it easier for women founders to get access to the capital and resources they need to grow successful companies.

KH: I feel I’m just getting started. Stay tuned.