Whitney H. Smith, CEO and Founder
Whitney is the visionary Founder of Girls For A Change. Her inspiration for Girls For A Change springs from over 18 years of experience in the leadership of innovative and progressive programs for girls and women. Her experience working with girls in juvenile detention and group homes has shaped her vision for a different world for girls and women. Envisioned as a highly collaborative and community-based model, Girls for a Change has evolved from a local organization serving 100 girls to an international organization serving thousands of girls.
She has been acknowledged for her accomplishments by NPR, named on of the most Influential women in the Silicon Valley by the Silicon Valley Business Journal, and honored by the Women’s Lawyer Association. She was selected to attend Harvard Business School’s Nonprofit Strategic Management Program and awarded a scholarship to Hewlett Packard’s Leadership Initiative Program. She recently trained girls from around the world at the Girls 20 Summit in Toronto to create social change in their own countries.
Whitney has created high visibility national partnerships with Sephora, Kimberly Clark and Clorox. These partnerships have provided incredibly valuable funding and visibility to fulfill the mission of empowering thousands of girls to create change in their own communities.
Together with her team of staff and hundreds of volunteers she is training thousands of young women to be change agents and leaders. Under her leadership Girls For A Change has served over 10,000 young women in the US and internationally.
Prior to founding GFC, she worked at the executive level of county government in the Silicon Valley as an advocate and policy designer for issues facing women and girls. Prior to this, she worked with Girl Scouts of Northern California for 6 years creating and managing programs for girls in juvenile detention, daughters of women in prison, and girls living in low-income communities. A fearless social change agent and innovator, Whitney began her career in college where she initiated and developed the first Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) student support group and LGBT Faculty Allies group in the Pennsylvania state university system.
Whitney is skilled at creating strong and strategic organizations with deep community support. She shares her experience with other organizations as an active consultant in the areas of program development, nonprofit organizational development, fund development and outcomes evaluation. She is an artist and photographer. A tireless advocate for social justice and the unlimited potential of girls and women, Whitney speaks frequently to diverse audiences on social change, youth activism, and girls and women in leadership, including presentations at Simmons School of Management, The Women’s Technology Cluster, The Women’s Leadership Alliance, The Women’s Foundation of California, Hewlett Packard, Arizona Foundation for Women, Silicon Valley Women’s Fund, The Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, and many youth conferences, schools and colleges.
Whitney is a member of The Clinton Global Initiative, an Advisory Board Member for the Forum For Women Entrepreneurs and Executives and the National Girls Institute. She serves a Board Member for Thinking Beyond Borders and is an Advisor to the National Women Studies Association.
Whitney lives in Santa Cruz, California and her proudest moments are when she is mothering her daughter Lennon Grace.