Last week, I announced a new blog series called #GirlBoss. This series is meant to educate and offer hope to women bosses, entrepreneurs, business owners and general badasses. The hardest thing we face as professionals is feelings of despair and loneliness, thinking you are the only one facing certain challenges and hardships.

I met Valerie Martinelli, through the Twitterverse (thanks PoshonPennies) and immediately starting spying on her. I mean, could she really be that successful? Not only is she the Director of The Center for Economic & Policy Development, Inc. she also the founder of Innovate 50/50.  

You don’t often meet other women that make it their mission to support other females as we strive for equal opportunities.

Find out why Valerie Martinelli is such a badass. I encourage you to reach out to her through Twitter,@ and pick this woman’s brilliant brain.

Q. Name, job description, business?  

A. Valerie Martinelli, MPA, Director of The Center for Economic & Policy Development, Inc.  I report to the CEO/ Chairman, however, I am responsible for overall strategic and operational functions, including programs, initiatives, growth, and execution of mission. I am committed to our leadership and management, communications, planning, and new business as well as partnership and project development, facilitating a broad range of stakeholders, and an unwavering commitment to quality business planning. The Center is a nonprofit that is committed to empowerment. This foundation is important because it is the basis for positive growth individually, locally, and nationally.

Q. How would others describe you?

A. Sweet, Kind, Friendly, Thoughtful, Funny, Brilliant, and Dedicated

Q. How would you describe yourself?

A. A Woman Who Knows What She Wants, Hard-working, Giving, Crazy Sense of Humor, Understanding, and Smart

Q. What are you most proud of in your career?

A. I am most proud of creating Innovate 50/50. It is incredible to have an opportunity to positively impact women so much. The response has been so positive and welcoming that I know it’s going to make a difference. I am looking forward to doing big things and helping women well into the future.  

Q. What has been your biggest struggle?

A. I have just recently started opening up about my struggles so this is a bit of a new world to me. My biggest struggle is my anxiety that stems from my childhood. I was robbed of my sense of self and it didn’t allow me to let good things or people into my life because I didn’t fully understand the value. Learning that value is beneficial because I believe that when you let good things and people into your life, positivity ensues and progresses.

Q. Who has been the greatest influence in your life?

A. Picking one is difficult because there have been for many different reasons, however, women are my influencers. We all have been fighting difficult battles for different reasons for many years. I channeled these female struggles into Innovate 50/50 because we deserve the opportunity to be equal, successful, and prosperous.

Q. What is your badass moment? What do you look back on and think, I fucking ‘killed’ that?

A. My dissertation was definitely a badass moment. I was so nervous because my entire graduate school career was hanging in the balance and I had worked so hard. I call that a badass moment because I still felt out of my element and I wasn’t sure I was ready to acknowledge my own bad-assness even though I knew I needed to. I worked well under pressure- I owned it and aced it. At the end, my professor called me a whiz because he thought I was ready before everyone else. Once I heard that, I knew I had the capability to take on big things and accomplish them.

Q. What advice, words of wisdom would you pass on to other women?

A. Don’t fear your power! We have so much that we can give to this world but we can’t be afraid of who we are and what we can do. So be who and what you are- badass, intelligent, kind, funny, quirky, or bitchy- whatever makes you special, wonderful, and authentic is what the world needs. Don’t give into stereotypes. You’re here to do amazing things and we’re here to lift each other up.

Q. What do you think is the biggest challenge facing women today?

A. Gender inequality is the biggest challenge currently facing women but that breaks down into many different aspects. For example, it affects us how we are treated in the workplace, in our homes, our relationships, employment qualifications, gender-based violence, how we learn and achieve, how much we earn, social and political views, and in every single facet of our lives.

Q. What can we do about it?

A. Knowledge is power. We need to educate ourselves how we are the most personally impacted. Make your voice heard by voting and contacting your elected officials. Each of us have the power to make a difference in our own personal way as well. This is one of the reasons why I created  Innovate 50/50. We are seeking to mentor 1,000 women. By doing so, we are empowering them to continue to pay it forward by becoming mentors themselves in the future. Through this vision, we can make a huge impact on gender inequality, educating women on using their power, and giving them the skills and tools to improve their lives while boosting the economy.

Do you have additional questions for Valerie? Drop them in the comment box below.

 

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