Chief Expands to D.C. to Reach Some of the Most Powerful Women in the World

Washington, D.C., will be the sixth city in the Chief network, which now numbers nearly 4,000 members nationwide.

Written by Gordon Gottsegen
Published on Feb. 09, 2021
Chief Expands to D.C. to Reach Some of the Most Powerful Women in the World
U.S. capitol building in Washington DC
Photo: Shutterstock

Chief launched in 2019 as a network for women executives to meet and learn from each other. Even in our modern age, women only hold 23 percent of executive roles, which means the C-suite and executive boardroom can feel a bit like a boys’ club. That’s why Chief co-founders Carolyn Childers and Lindsay Kaplan thought it was important to intentionally create a space for women.

Now Chief believes that space is Washington, D.C.

Chief started in New York with a dedicated clubhouse in Tribeca. In early 2020, Chief announced it was expanding to Chicago and launching a clubhouse there in the months ahead. Of course, plans changed when the COVID-19 pandemic swept the nation, but the company found that it was able to transition to virtual meet-ups quite seamlessly. Virtual meetings also allowed more women to join the Chief network, which was especially important because by 2020 it already had thousands of people on its waitlist to join.

Soon after landing in Chicago, Chief expanded to Los Angeles, Boston and San Francisco.

On Tuesday, Chief announced that Washington, D.C., would be the sixth city in its network.

“Expanding to D.C. made the most sense as the District has become a center of power for women, as Kamala Harris becomes our nation’s vice president, women are confirmed for high-level Cabinet positions, and more women have been elected to the Congress,” Kaplan said in a statement to Built In. “We are not only able to support women executive leaders in each of these cities, but drive connections critical for changing the face of leadership.”

In addition to expanding to D.C. last week, Chief also unveiled an art installation at the Lincoln Memorial that was created in a partnership with the National Women’s History Museum and the ad agency BBH New York. The art installation features a portrait of Harris created using broken glass. The broken glass is meant to represent the broken glass ceiling that she shattered by being elected as the vice president — the highest ranking public office held by a woman in U.S. politics so far.

Kamala Harris broken glass portrait
Kamala Harris broken glass portrait. | Photo: Chief

Kaplan told Built In that Chief has prioritized expanding to cities where the most women are on the waitlist. This strategy allows the network to grow significantly every time it adds a new city, and that’s been the case for the past year. Chief now has almost 4,000 members nationwide, and attendance for its peer group sessions are at an all-time high. The company says that 70 percent of its members report that they have been able to navigate workplace challenges better because of Chief, while 81 percent say it has helped them strengthen their professional networks.

“We know that many of the most influential positions and board opportunities are not filled through public searches, but whisper networks that have historically disadvantaged women and other underrepresented people,” Kaplan told Built In. “To get more women, Black women and women of color into positions of power, we need to provide them access to hidden opportunities.”

Kaplan added, “It’s been incredible to see Chief members supporting one another through these uncertain times. We have seen members become board directors, obtain board director positions, climb from VP into the C-suite and launch companies.”

And despite operating virtually, Chief has had many memorable moments in the past year. Some of these moments included appearances by high-profile guest speakers like Gloria Steinem, Mindy Kaling, Jane Fonda, Kara Swisher and Stacey Abrams.

Moments like these have allowed the Chief community to gather in a space where they can support each other and share the wisdom they’ve learned from their experiences. As the network expands to D.C., Chief will be able to provide the same services to women who work in some of the most influential jobs in the country.

“There are more women than ever rising up the ranks in Washington,” Kaplan said. “Chief DC will serve the most powerful women in business, politics and advocacy by providing them with the network they need.”

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