In honor of Women’s History Month, we’re featuring female-led organizations and talking to their leaders about their work and the importance of having women in leadership positions. Today we talk to Jennifer Clinton, President and CEO of Cultural Vistas.
About Cultural Vistas
Cultural Vistas is an international education exchange organization all about engaging and equipping the next generation of leaders to be change agents and understand what it means to be in a global environment. The organization seeks to bridge divides between and within nations, increase inclusivity in international education and exchange, foster an innovative and resilient learning culture and curate programs with demonstrable impact. Although Covid and immigration restrictions have both challenged the 55-year-old organization, it has been able to pivot and thrive.
About Jennifer and Her Career
Jennifer grew up outside of Detroit and spent summers going back and forth to Windsor, Canada. These early cross-cultural experiences and exposure to the French language and Canadian culture inspired her career. Her interest in international work was bolstered by studying and working abroad while in college and graduate school. She believes immersive experiences are very enriching experiences that can bring the classroom to life. Jennifer earned an MBA and a PhD in French Literature. Jennifer has been working in the field of international education and business for the past 25 years. She has been CEO of Cultural Vistas for four years.
Women in Leadership
According to a 2017 Forbes Article that Jennifer cited: “although 75% of employees in the nonprofit field are women, only 45% of CEOs are female. The bigger an organization’s budget is, the less likely it is that a woman will be controlling the purse strings. Women lead only 33% of charitable groups with budgets of $10 million or more.”
Jennifer feels that she spent the first 15 years of her career “suppressing what might be considered traditional female traits as a means of fitting in and being accepted by male peers.” She feels this sort of behavior helped her, but also contributes in some ways to a self-imposed glass ceiling. Jennifer hopes that having more women in leadership positions will help younger women in the workforce avoid feeling that they need to hide who they are.
Recently, she has been able to see this hope come to life as she sees friends and work colleagues feeling comfortable and empowered to take longer periods of time for parental leave. Jennifer remembers being a young executive and pursuing an MBA when her first child was born. She had the baby on Friday, and was back in class the next week, and was back to work after about three weeks. Today, that decision seems unnecessary to her, and she’s thrilled that younger women do not feel as much pressure to make those same choices.
Although she knows it’s a generalization, Jennifer says that traditionally women have been seen as more nurturing and giving. Since, the essence of the nonprofit sector is to serve a social good, it is critical that the sector has leaders who are committed both by nature and by training and experience to improving communities, lives and livelihoods.