leadership program for girls in Pittsburgh

L.A.U.N.C.H. leadership program for girls in Pittsburgh propels them toward STEM careers

Photo above. by SpaceX via Unsplash.

Whether they dream about working in software development or mechanical engineering or any of the possibilities in between, the L.A.U.N.C.H. leadership program for girls in Pittsburgh can help high-schoolers kick-start their career goals this fall.

Hosted by the Pittsburgh Technology Council and its nonprofit arm, Fortyx80, the L.A.U.N.C.H. program is accepting applications from 10th- and 11th-grade girls for its Fall 2022 cohort. The group will give students a chance to discover their personal leadership style and engage with an on-staff career coach and educational consultant, along with female STEM advisers.

L.A.U.N.C.H. (it stands for Learn, Aspire, Understand, Navigate, Connect, Highlight) is all about leadership growth and helping girls prepare to create positive change in their chosen STEM careers. 

In addition to meeting other girls in the region, the L.A.U.N.C.H. program pairs students with female leaders from some of the Pittsburgh Technology Council’s 1,000 member companies through mentorships and panel discussions, says Marie Pelloni, senior director of Talent & Workforce Development Initiatives at the council and Fortyx80. 

“It’s a workforce development program to bring girls from the inside out to be leaders in the field of STEM,” Pelloni says. The program is open to girls from all 13 counties in southwestern Pennsylvania.

How can girls get involved? 

Students can apply by completing the application here by Sept. 12.

Participants will be announced on Sept. 13. Pelloni, who created the program in 2020, says that organizers are especially interested in girls from school districts with limited STEM resources.

What does this leadership program for girls in Pittsburgh require?

Girls selected for the fall cohort are required to participate in all parts of the program. That will include:

  • pre-work sent out the week of September 19
  • an in-person retreat at Duquesne University from Oct. 14 through Oct. 16
  • virtual Zoom meetings on Oct. 25, Nov. 1, Nov. 8 and Nov. 15
  • a job-shadowing field trip on Nov. 5
  • an in-person celebration on Nov. 19 

Previous mentors have included female STEM leaders from companies such as Meta, Amazon, BNY Mellon, DICK’S Sporting Goods, PNC, FedEx, Sheetz, UPMC, Snapology, and Allegheny County Airport Authority.

Beyond the valuable connections, the L.A.U.N.C.H. program also introduces girls to content likely to inspire them. Required reading includes “The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know” by Claire Shipman and Katty Kay, and “Becoming Athena” by Martha Mayhood Mertz.