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What We’re Reading: Darcy Deane on How Great Women Lead in Teen Vogue and More

By Emily Riemer

Seventeen-year-old Darcy Deane and her mom, Bonnie St. John, wrote the book on inspiring female leaders. In How Great Women Lead: A Mother-Daughter Adventure into the Lives of Women Shaping the World, the co-authors profile some of the world’s most inspiring women–from Hillary Rodham Clinton; to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; to Sharon Allen, the first female board chair at Deloitte LLP; to Opportunity Nicaragua’s regional manager, Noemi Vivas Ocaña–documenting their rises to the top and what challenges they faced along the way. We’re so inspired by the book that we formed a partnership with Bonnie St. John through How Great Women Lead to raise funds and awareness for our microfinance initiatives, which help women (who make up 93% of our loan clients) work their way out of systemic, chronic poverty.

This week, we’re excited to see Darcy featured in two articles where she shares her journey in co-authoring this book, and what it’s taught her about being a strong leader:

Darcy, Bonnie and Noemi (center, in pink) in Nicaragua. (examiner.com)

  • Teen Vogue, “Giving Back: Darcy Deane and Opportunity International” – This profile of Darcy by Sierra Tishgart shares the teenager’s journey and encourages readers to get involved with Opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women. Don’t miss the slideshow of photos from Bonnie and Darcy’s world travels, including this photo (at right) of them with Noemi in Nicaragua. Darcy said, “We went to Nicaragua and interviewed Noemi Ocaña, [...] who had worked her way from receiving loans to becoming a loan officer who works with these women. It was the first time I had ever been to a third-world country. You hear stories about poverty and how bad it is in certain places, but to actually be face to face with it gave me a sense of urgency that we needed to do something to help.”
  • Examiner.com, “Mother and Daughter Adventure from Leadership to Charity” – This feature on Bonnie and Darcy by Gloria Blakely explains how the duo came to this project and what Darcy has learned about the unique challenges women face to lead.“Going on this journey and seeing all different kinds of leadership,” Darcy confesses in the article, “has made me realize that all people have different strengths and weaknesses.”It clarified for Darcy the gender differences among leaders. “Girls, especially at my age,” she states, “are afraid of judgment and critique from other girls, so taking a risk to be a leader feels like a popularity contest. It’s important for girls to realize that taking a risk is not so scary, and it’s really important to grow and expand above that.” On Darcy and Bonnie’s How Great Women Lead conference call with the Board of Governors in April, Darcy remarked, “I’ve also learned that girls are more afraid of criticism than boys. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told me, ‘Confidence is like a muscle. You must exercise it to keep it strong. Keep persevering and it becomes stronger and easier to have confidence in yourself.’” In the article, Darcy highlighted her plan to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in 2013 with Opportunity supporters, calling on people to fund our work by supporting their climb. Examiner.com also called attention to Opportunity’s partnership with How Great Women Lead, letting people know they could contribute $10 to to bring financial access to women by texting WOMEN to 27722. As the article states, “In some places, the only path to gainful employment is creating it for oneself.” That’s why women need greater access to the services that will enable them to provide for their own families and improve their own lives.

A Bit about Darcy

At 17, Darcy is an accomplished speaker, having made a variety of professional presentations including a TEDxTalk, keynotes at conferences for Fortune 500 executives, a speech at Princeton University, and a “talk back” with senior editors at The New York Times. She has written articles for Essence magazine, and has appeared on numerous national radio and television shows including NBC’s TODAY Show.

Home schooled until sixth grade, Darcy has traveled extensively throughout all 50 states, as well as many countries abroad. She attended middle school at the Dalton School in New York City, and currently attends the Education Program for Gifted Youth Online High School through Stanford University, where she established and chairs their first, international, Model United Nations organization.

In addition to continuing as an author, speaker, and world traveler, Darcy is interested in pursuing a career as a linguistic anthropologist, and studies Chinese, Spanish, and Ancient Greek languages.

On April’s call with the Board of Governors, Darcy shared that Dr. Rice advised her, “‘The leader of the future needs to understand languages as well.’” Darcy said, “That’s when I began to know that I can become a leader as well.”

Congratulations to Darcy on these two great articles. We hope you all enjoy reading them and thank you, as always, for your continued support of our work to empower women.

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