Kate Hudson teams up with ANN Inc. to empower emerging young female leaders

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past year, you probably already knew that Kate Hudson is the brand ambassador for Ann Taylor (she even designed a fabulous capsule collection last spring). What you probably didn't know, however, is that Kate is involved in more than just designing sensibly stylish trousers and the perfect wear-to-work dresses.

At the Clinton Global Initiative yesterday, Kate spoke, along with ANN Inc. CEO and president Kay Krill, and ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative grant winner Monica Mishra, on her involvement with the charitable organization that seeks to empower emerging young female leaders.

The ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative started with Kay, who, as one of the few Fortune 1000 female CEOS, felt a personal sense of responsibility, to help mentor and empower female leaders. The initiative was formed as a partnership between ANN INC. and Vital Voices, and hosts a leadership forum, awards grants, and offers opportunities for growth and mentorship to young female leaders. "It's important for them to start creating their network early in life in order to develop the confidence to go through college and feel self-assured, and to go for the leadership roles," Kay said.

We sat down with Kay, Kate, and Monica yesterday before they headed off to speak at CGI, to get a better sense of how the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative is helping pave the way for the country's future female leaders.

StyleList: How did the ANNpower Vital Voices Initiative come about?
Kay Krill: Well, as a company of 95% women and with a client base of 100% women, I really thought it was my responsibility to focus on the next generation of female leaders. We needed a partner in order to really implement the program in a powerful way, and we chose Vital Voices because they have a very large network of global leaders. We decided to focus domestically because no one else was really doing that.

SL: Why was Kate the perfect fit as an ambassador for this program?
KK: Kate really embodies the Ann Taylor woman. She's really focused on women's issues, which I think is really important. She is a great mentor to the ANNpower girls, and actually came to see them last year in our leadership forum with Vital Voices. She spoke to all 50 of them and was so inspiring because she's accomplished so much.

SL: Kate, what made you want to become involved with this initiative?
Kate Hudson: I never wanted to be involved in little things -- just showing up to events to show face. I really want to focus on what's important to me. The thing I'm drawn to is women -- women's rights, women's roles in leadership, and that's where I connect. I think there's still a really long way to go. No matter how long I'm on the front of the store or not, I think I'll always be a part of this organization.

SL: What do you hope to contribute to ANNpower Vital Voices?
KH: When I'm sitting in a room with all these young girls and i see the kind of work they're doing and what they're accomplishing at such a young age, it's inspiring me to do better. I think it all boils down to women needing to support other women -- no matter what size, what age, what job choice.

SL: Monica, tell us what you chose to do with your ANNpower Vital Voices grant.
Monica Mishra: I ran workshops for 4th and 5th grade girls. It was just a day or so, and we showed them certain technical concepts. We let them play around with stuff, making little Lego robots and things, and then we had them interact a lot with each other, just to show that girls shouldn't be in competition with each other -- they should collaborate a find a support network for times when they feel like they have to prove they're not inferior to their male counterparts.

SL: How has winning the ANNpower Vital Voices grant changed your life?
MM: It gives me a support network to go out into the field and make a difference.
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