A Message from WINiT Founder Michelle ‘Mick’ Lee
I have been in the industry since my first job in 1989, when I delivered airline tickets for a small travel agency in Hartford, Connecticut. Like many of us, I either experienced or viewed decisions around me that were based on gender. As I progressed in my career, I became aware of the metrics and the fact that while over 65% of the workforce in the travel industry are women, the more senior the roles, the less women are in the room. Furthermore, women are often all but invisible at industry speaking engagements.
It was important to me to create a solution and as a result I founded WINiT in January 2014. I am fortunate to work for a successful woman leader who supports our initiative and lives by example to actively change the landscape for women in the world.
We are business focused, include men, welcome women of all levels, we are not geographically limited and our programs span across all industry associations and groups.
WINiT is a pending non-profit*, volunteer led organization with 100 women and men holding leadership positions and over 1,200 members (as of August).
The phenomenal momentum of WINiT to date is a reflection of the dedication and enthusiasm our volunteers display on a continual basis. As I once heard, “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.”
We are here to change the statistics in the industry, promote women in the workforce and at industry events and ensure that women use the power and ability they already possess.
We are thrilled with the feedback we received from our July 2014 launch event. The agenda covered an overview of WINiT, our commitment to action, visibility and speaking engagements for each of our committee leaders and speaking engagements with the innovators in travel. In October we will share more about the curriculum and the WINiT leadership strategy session, as well as survey results from the launch.
A few key stats:
- 383 Registered for the WINiT Launch event in July
- Over 1,300 WINiT Members (as of September)
- The Fund Development Committee is a separate operating unit reporting to a Fund Development Advisor, Caitlin Gomez, and chaired by Rita Visser and Cindy Allen. They have secured over 60% of our funding for 2014, captured in just under 3 months of soliciting donors!
*WINiT is a nonprofit corporation and has submitted an application to the Internal Revenue Service for recognition as a section 501(c)(3) charitable and education organization. IRS review is currently taking 6-12 months. While WINiT’s tax-exempt status is pending, donors may make tax-deductible contribution to fund WINiT’s charitable and educational efforts by contributing to the WINiT Fund at the Baton Rouge Area Foundation (BRAF). BRAF is a recognized 501(c)(3) organization that is serving as the fiscal agent for our project.