Conference Grant Report: Katherine Puntiel ’19

Katherine Puntiel ’19 was selected to receive a Conference Grant from the Patricelli Center for Social Entrepreneurship. With this grant, Katherine went to Queens, NY to attend the Girlboss Rally. You can read Katherine’s reflection below, read past grantee reflections here, and visit the PCSE website to learn more about all of our grant programs.

A two-hour train ride from the Bronx to Queens gave me enough time to shake off the nerves before attending the Girlboss Rally. There was a sudden tightening in my chest, and precisely 1,000 butterflies were fluttering in my stomach. As I sat on the blue plastic bench on the four train doubts began to speed across my mind. But the power of a small notebook and pen soothed the negativity away from my mind. My mind generates over a billion ideas a day, and the rally was my opportunity to open a page from my notebook of ideas. A small notebook lead me to the colorful, spacious, and warm room full of powerful women.

The industrial and enormous structure of the Knockdown Center provided a “larger- than-life” sense in the environment. The moment I walked in, the main stage centered the room with geometric graphics décor surrounded with white chairs while the remaining three stages were slightly smaller and focused on the sponsors for each stage such as Uber and Black Rock. However, even with the tall ceilings and tremendously wide space, there was an intimacy that existed as I walked inside the massive venue. I felt welcomed and inspired. As a fashion enthusiast, every single person came with bold colors, psychedelic accessories, and distinct textures. A casual business aesthetic with flare and attitude reminded ticket-holders to be who you are and own what you represent. I stopped in the center for a moment, and said to myself, “I am a Girlboss.”

From attendees to speakers, the hierarchy did not exist in the room. I realized that every individual in the room is a Girlboss no matter where you are in your career or life. The Girlboss Rally left the table and created a house. My first panel “I See Me” kicked off the best way possible whereas each panelist expressed the drive behind the Girlboss organization head on, representation. Three women on stage immediately established the vulnerability and the reality of their experiences as chief officers and business owners. Amani Al-Khata became a turning point for me, she is the founder of and expressed her identity as a source of motivation to create a virtual safe space similar to the mission of Girlboss. Truthfully speaking, I have been told time and time again that I had to suppress my identity to climb the ladder of success. On the other hand, Amani Al-Khata is an example of a person who found

victory in her individuality and looked around believing in the success her identity would provide. Whether working for a company or owning one, I learned that the most important investment is not the company, but yourself. Investing in who you will reflect all the other factors that enter your life over time.

From pitching contests, business model resources, and activist alternatives, each panelist provided tools to uplift me and see the joy in my attributes. Discussions of the current state in the media industry, visiting the resume workshop, and taking account of finical advice from one of the leading finance companies, Black Rock, were the hundreds of resources at the Knockdown Center. Of course, all businesses in the venue were either represented by women or owned by women. One specific detailed I admired was the fact that one of the food options was the Egg Shop, which is a local New York City restaurant.

“If you’re a girlboss, be slow to hire and be fast to fire.” — Elaine Welteroth

Journalist Elaine Welteroth on the panel “Raise Your Voice” reminded us that our failures are open doors. I recognized through the physical and safe space provided for women from all over the world, I am good, and everything is going to be all right. I had the pleasure of meeting attendees and exchanging social media accounts while discussing our goals. At this moment there are a few attendees that I message from time to time for advice on ideas and comments on pop culture or news. Before attending, I connected through LinkedIn with specific panelist and had the privilege of interacting with a variety of inspiring women in person such as Neha Gandhi, Jercio Mandybur, and Maryellis Bunn. I had the pleasure of meeting with Maryellis Bunn a few weeks after the rally and discussed her journey and the power in branding as the founder of the Museum of Ice Cream.

Women, all* women, we are powerful beings, and when we come together with a goal in mind, there is nothing that can stop us. I highly recommend this rally in every way from inspiration to networking; I am a proud member of the Girlboss family. As a senior, my involvement with the Allbritton Center over the years transformed a significant aspect of my

experience at Wesleyan University. Due to the center’s attention to valuing the external experiences of students, I was able to attend one of the best conferences in my life. Thank you.

Written By A Girlboss, Katherine Puntiel