Girls’ Education Advocate Tara Abrahams on Finding Your Path and Making a Difference

Photographed by Shoji Van Kuzumi

Makeup by Aliana Lopez

Nails by Molly Romah

This article is part of our series on members of our community who inspire us. Half the profits from our Duet Pinky Rings fund seed grants for entrepreneurs around the world. Each ring is a symbol of a pinky pledge to pay it forward to support women & a connection between each member of our community. Make your own pinky pledge here.

Our #wcw is Tara Abrahams, an extraordinary human who we are lucky to have on our mentor board. She is a fierce advocate for girls’ education, with a career that’s taken her from managing Girl Rising to the Girl Project at Glamour to the International Center for Research on Women, and now to managing international expansion strategy for Girls Who Code. We visited her to chat about how she found her calling and her advice for younger women.

Tara Abrahams girl project advocate glamour for shiffon co wearing gift duet pinky ring

“I really stumbled into the space of girls’ education at a young age,” Tara says. She started out as a volunteer when she was very young, and it taught her that she didn’t need to have a lot of tangible resources such as money or connections in order to make a difference. “For a young person growing up, immigrant family, only child sort of trying to make her way and figure out an identity, that was very powerful for me at a young age.”

It was a thread that stayed consistent for her throughout college and beyond. After graduating, she spent time working in community health in Harlem before returning to Boston and attending business school. “I always thought that I would be the COO type,” she confesses — mission driven but equipped with knowledge of finance and management and operations, so she could help mission driven organizations get to where they wanted to be more effectively.  

Looking back on that, she says, “what wasn’t quite correct about my understanding of myself was that I hadn’t found the issue about which I was passionate.” She didn’t see herself as an external leader or CEO of an organization because she “didn’t feel authentic speaking about a certain issue.” It wasn’t until she found girls’ education that the lightbulb went on.

“My mouth fell open and I couldn’t close it again, and I couldn’t sleep at night."

So how did she find her way into the field?

She had been working at a hedge fund in the city, formalizing their foundations and meeting with people who were seeking funding for their projects. One of the meetings she took was with the executive producer and cofounder of what would eventually become Girl Rising.

“My mouth fell open and I couldn’t close it again, and I couldn’t sleep at night, and I was telling my husband and my colleagues and my mom about how incredible this idea was.

“And part of it was that I considered myself well educated and well informed, and the fact that I didn’t realize that there was this opportunity that girls represent.”

It was early on in the project - they were making a film about how girls are the key to ending global poverty, created in a narrative format highlighting 9 women across different countries, pairing each girl with a writer from her home country.

At the time, she was pregnant with her first baby, a girl, and she remembers thinking about the kind of mother she wanted to be. She felt the sense that this was the kind of work she wanted to be doing. “I said, ‘I don’t know what I can do to help you but I would love to do whatever I can’ and I ended up staying there for almost 5 years.”

That was the turning point for her. “It became the lens through which I viewed the world.”

One of the best things I’ve achieved is the network of women and friends and colleagues that I’ve connected with.

On her proudest moments

"With the Girl Project, I’m really proud that we brought Muzoon Almellehan to Glamour’s Women of the Year and highlighted her work as a Syrian refugee advocating for girls’ education, supporting girls and delaying marriage in some of the most difficult and challenging circumstances that I could ever imagine.

At Girl Rising, I’m just proud of the movement that we helped to build. I think it is a movement and I think it’s not over yet and I think there’s a lot more to be done but I think Girl Rising was one of the catalysts for this moment that we’re having around girls and women, and I’m really proud of that. And not only was it seen, the film, but the stories seemed to resonate with people."

I want to have a party one day. I want to have a big party one day and say thanks to all the women in my life who have helped me.

Advice to younger women

"The advice that I’ve been living by most recently is that there’s no waiting in life. Even when you’re young it’s not too early to find your passion. 

Really be out there as much as possible learning, listening, talking to people, exposing yourself to new industries, new people, because you never know when the next meeting is going to lead you to what you're going to do for the rest of your life.

That means developing and maintaining a powerful network. One of the best things I’ve achieved is the network of women and friends and colleagues that I’ve connected with.

I want to have a party one day. I want to have a big party one day and say thanks to all the women in my life who have helped me.

Another thing I would say is that I think after 40 I realized that I just couldn’t shut up. I just don’t have the patience for not speaking my mind. So my advice also would be don’t wait to speak your mind."

 

We're so excited to see what the future brings for Tara and to see the work she'll be doing with Girls Who Code! Look out for a What's In My Jewelry Box featuring Tara's incredible jewelry collection soon.


7 comments

  • lovely photographs and Tara is beautiful. What a wonderful feature on someone who is making the world a better place for women and thus everyone else too

    lancome mascara girl
  • love this post. agree with her about that there’s no waiting in life. never to early to find your passion. very true

    nik
  • love this post. agree with her about that there’s no waiting in life. never to early to find your passion. very true

    nik
  • My wife is passionate about her work in women’s empowerment and I’m so proud of what she’s doing to make a difference in the world. Your work and many like yours and hers are so important and I’m glad we have women like you dedicating your time and business school expertise to social good.

    Tony Lee
  • SO inspired by you Tara. I’m an undergrad at Amherst and am really passionate about doing work in women’ empowerment when I look for a job. Thank you for sharing a bit of your journey with us. Love the Girl Gang and what the Shiffon and nonprofits you work with do

    Manessha

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