Emma GILMORE Kieran ’96, an Ellis lifer, knows how important it is for women to develop strong, confident voices—especially because she has used her own voice to further the mission of over 100 different nonprofits. Her experience at Ellis, along with her time as an educator, frontline fundraiser, and in-house firm consultant, instilled in her the perseverance necessary to seek out new opportunities and open her own business.
Years at Ellis:
Kindergarten to Grade 12
B.A. French, Connecticut College; M.P.A. Nonprofit Management, American University; M.A. Organizational Psychology and Change Leadership, Columbia University
How did you get into your line of work? I started my career as a teacher and volunteer fundraiser. I quickly moved into fundraising for schools to merge my two interests. I became a consultant after working for an institution that was in need of a lot of change—I realized that changing an organization from the inside can often be difficult and wanted to have a better opportunity to affect change in nonprofits.
What do you think are the advantages to Ellis’ all-girls environment? Ellis taught me to trust my instincts and to be confident in my intellect. There were so many ways that I was encouraged to be my authentic self—I was a singer, an athlete, an actress, a leader, and a student all at the same time. The Ellis environment enabled me to grow a diverse skillset in a nurturing environment.
We often talk about girls developing their voice at Ellis. What does that mean to you? How do you use your voice? If you asked some people, I’m sure they’d say that I often use my voice a little too often! Being taught to use my voice at Ellis has been an incredibly powerful and useful skill as a business owner. I know that I deserve to be heard and feel confident in using my voice.
Tell me about a time when you have been brave and bold. Going out on my own was pretty brave and bold for me. Security is very important to me— knowing that I’ll be able to contribute financially to my family, knowing that I will be challenged intellectually, etc.—so entering into the world of self-employment was a big leap!
How did Ellis stimulate your intellectual curiosity and creativity? Ellis encourages students to seek out new and diverse opportunities. For me, this led to trying a lot of things that I wasn’t necessarily good at, but I learned to appreciate the curiosity that led to trying something new.
When do you feel empowered, and how do you empower other women in your life? I work with a lot of women—clients, partners, and sub-contractors—and I’d like to think that we all lift each other up. I always hope to create opportunities for women to use their voices, to understand their strengths, and to feel powerful in their positions, regardless of title. How would you describe yourself in three words? Driven. Bold. Dedicated.