“It went better than we could’ve all hoped,” said Ellis at a celebration of the WE Empower Challenge, held Oct. 1 at Wrigley Hall on ASU’s Tempe campus. She emphasized the goals of the competition: to ignite change through partnerships, invest in female entrepreneurs so they can be role models in their communities and honor women who are supporting SDGs through their companies.

“So often people see women as victims. We want people to really see them as the contributors that they are to local economies and to the SDG objectives — not as victims,” Ellis said.

The inaugural WE Empower Challenge could not have been possible, Ellis said, without strong worldwide partnerships — including with the U.N., civil society and corporations such as Salesforce and Procter & Gamble — and hard work from many women at ASU, including Kristin Meraz, an administrative specialist in the ASU Wrigley Institute. Meraz was instrumental in setting up the platform that applicants used to submit their video pitches, fielding applicants’ technical questions and providing overall organizational support for the competition.

“After seeing the applications come in — and I got to view some of the videos — it’s really amazing what these women are doing,” Meraz said.

“Our ASU team (who visited New York) of Kellie Kreiser from ASU Thunderbird, Diana Bowman from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and the School for the Future of Innovation in Society, and Erin Carr-Jordan from EdPlus did a fantastic job training and accompanying the awardees throughout the week,” Ellis said. “The whole collaborative experience reinforced my belief that ASU has the potential to become a global leader in creating multiplier impact at scale for the U.N. SDGs.”

Kayla Frost

Associate Editor, Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability