A co-founder of The Billionaire Girls Club, Vanderveldt is leading an effort to empower a billion women by 2020, helping to make their visions a reality by leveraging tools, technology and resources. TechConnect West Virginia also aspires to promote greater involvement among women in the innovation economy and in the development of entrepreneurial ventures.
The power of education to improve lives was emphasized throughout the conference. During a panel moderated by President Clinton, Eva Longoria talked about the hurdles she had to overcome to get to college and the novel way her celebrity has allowed her to make it easier for others.
Encouraged by the women in her family to strive for a bachelor's and master's degree when the odds of success seemed far off, Longoria later created a foundation to help young Latina women reach their full educational potential. The program utilizes role models, mentors and early exposure to math and reading. Longoria's inspirational example is one for many in our state, where many young people are working to be the first in their family to go to college or community college.
Finally, Sara Martinez Tucker, chief executive officer of the National Math and Science Institute, discussed her organization's efforts to improve education, particularly in the STEM fields: Science, technology, education and math.
"Over two-thirds of new jobs will require additional education beyond high school. Math and science become the gateways for a child making it on to college," she said.
Having an education in STEM fields is just as important for those who want to take advantage of future career opportunities in West Virginia. TechConnect and many other organizations in the state work to encourage young people -- male and female -- to focus on and pursue these growing career opportunities in STEM fields.
It was a very exciting and rewarding opportunity to represent West Virginia at the Clinton Global Initiative, to network with so many others and to learn more about how West Virginia can continue to be a part of an action-oriented effort to increase employment, promote an environment for business growth and innovation, and advance access to education and skills development.
Barth is executive director of TechConnect West Virginia.