Charitable Choices: Vib Wadhwa, Youth Programs Coordinator of Minerva BC

Minerva BC is a Vancouver-based registered charity focused on supporting and mentoring girls and women to help them identify their values, discover their own strengths and develop their leadership skills. We spoke with Vib Wadhwa, Youth Programs Coordinator of Minerva BC to learn more about them.

Minerva BC

Describe your charity/non-profit in a few sentences.

Minerva BC is a Vancouver-based charity dedicated to advancing the leadership ​ of women and girls.​ We advocate for equity and inclusion in the workplace to create the conditions for women to thrive. We help women strengthen their ​networks and empower them through leadership programs.

What problem does it aim to solve?

Minerva aims to close the gender gap that still exists in all areas of leadership. Women represent only 20% of executive leaders in BC and 33% of board members at BC’s top companies. ​The numbers are even worse for Indigenous, Black, and visible minority women, who​ represent less than 10% in each category.​ We start this work with self-identified girls in high school to help them uncover their leadership potential and increase their confidence.

When did you start/join it?

I joined Minerva BC about 9 months ago.

What made you want to get involved?

I was drawn to the Youth Programs Coordinator role at Minerva because it offers a platform to connect with and engage young leaders. I personally gained confidence and trust in my values-based leadership through opportunities I was entrusted to take on in my high school and undergraduate pursuits.

Minerva consistently works to bring in young leaders and coach them on tools to gain confidence in their own leadership traits and values and I wanted to be part of this outreach. I think having even one person recognize and believe in the skills and potential you hold can be life-changing, so I want to be part of this work that celebrates and amplifies the contributions of young leaders. Whether it be through finding like-minded and motivated peers or networking with fabulous mentors, Minerva’s program content is all about celebrating all that you already hold true as a leader and using it positively to better yourself and your community.

What was the situation like when you started?

When I started this job last fall, a wave of the pandemic was picking up again, and everyone was still very much virtual. In a time when so many areas of life were being interrupted and cancelled, we heard from many young leaders that they were glad that we were still able to offer virtual opportunities for them to develop their leadership skills, continue to build their networks, and meet other inspiring and like-minded young leaders.

How has it changed since?

With the “pandemic trends” of WFH and Zoom sessions, we’re now also seeing a notable desire for more in-person opportunities for connection. During the pandemic, Minerva shifted its programs to be fully virtually functional, but we recognize the human component in in-person interactions superiorly cater to. We are proud to be able to offer meaningful and transformative program experiences online while we are also looking for more opportunities for our youth participants to gather face-to-face to learn from and inspire one another.

What more needs to be done?

We want to serve the needs of all groups – those participants who better benefit from Minerva programming in a remote format, as well as those who miss the in-person components and are looking for a face-to-face experience. As such, we’re currently underway in developing hybrid formats that effectively offer something beneficial and relevant for both these groups. We are committed to developing leadership programming that reflects the diverse needs of youth across BC.

How can our readers help?

There is a place for everyone in the progress toward gender equity! Supporting girls and young women in developing their confidence, offering time to be a mentor, and reading materials on diversity, equity, and inclusion–especially by women of colour–are all great places to start. Ways to get involved with Minerva include sharing our Learning to Lead info with the young women in your life who would be interested in connecting with amazing young leaders from across BC and growing their confidence, checking out our leadership accelerator programs for women, and making a donation to support our work to close the leadership gender gap faster.

Do you have any events coming up?

We have lots of events coming up over the summer and fall and we’d love to see you there!

Every year, during Gender Equality Week, we bring businesses and communities together to learn how companies in BC are overcoming their blind spots and championing equality and diversity by adapting the practices and procedures used to identify, develop, and promote talent. The Face of Leadership™ Inclusive Leadership Forum 2022 is taking place from September 20-22—registrations are now open!

On our Youth Programs side, we’ll be having fall Learning to Lead sessions. Learning to Lead focuses on helping youth identify leadership potential already inside them through strengths and values, mentorship, and fundamentals of leadership mindset training.

Our Making Space for Youth Leadership program will also be hosting Learning Exchanges to foster intergenerational learning in leadership communities. Keep an eye on @minervabc on socials for more details on upcoming conferences, coffee chats, and reciprocal mentorship events!

We are also now accepting registrations for our Emerging Leaders and Women Leading the Way programs for women who want to develop their leadership skills and connect with a  supportive network. Check out an info session to see how these programs can help you reach your next leadership goals!

Where can we follow you?

Website | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter

PAY IT FORWARD: What is an awesome local charity/non-profit that you love?

We would love to shout out the incredible work of the Urban Native Youth Association!