Throughout Women’s History Month we strive to teach our students about the amazing work that women are doing in our communities. From mathematical discoveries to political science we hope the young girls and women we serve are inspired and empowered by these female leaders. No matter what career path they choose, we hope they’ll continue to invest in and strive to build up their local communities. We connected with Kerry Sullivan, President of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation, to offer the next generation of leaders some philanthropic career advice:

Your passion for philanthropy is apparent and you’ve managed to build a highly successful career out of it. What advice would you give to young women—and young people in general—who want to channel their passion into a career?

I think it’s important to remember that there are many paths to success and opportunities through which you can leverage your passion.  Every experience can be a stepping-stone—if you’re open to the possibilities.  If you’re doing work that you think is meaningful, then you can use this to build skills, advance and tackle your next challenge. Don’t discount the experience you gain through service, it may not be professional work experience but very often it can help you build skills such as project management, communications, leadership and more.  So remember to look at your experiences holistically and how they can translate into your career.

A lot of your work is based in service and giving back, what about service and philanthropy resonates with you?

There’s something very compelling about a job that enables you to respond to societal issues and influence positive outcomes.  For example, our work to connect young people to employment, including programs that build soft skills through mentoring, is a focus that holds real meaning for me.  I’ve mentored young adults and seen the difference that spending time with a young person can make as they make career choices.  In addition, I’ve been inspired by the work of nonprofits like City Year who are on the frontlines working to address community needs such as connecting young people to employment, feeding the hungry, helping the military and others. 

What would you say to inspire young women to create change in their communities?  

I believe the next generation is asking the right questions – have confidence in yourself, listen, and take action as engaged citizens.  We know millennials want to work for companies that are operating as responsible businesses.  Regardless of what they choose to do professionally, they are focused on the common good.  Young people have a voice.  Use that voice to make an impact and you’ll go far. 


Bank of America is a national leadership sponsor and has supported City Year and young people who make positive change in their schools and communities for more than 25 years. To learn more about our partnership, click here.


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