As a first-generation college graduate, Tammy Tibbetts networked her way to her dream job in New York City’s competitive magazine industry. But it was her final reporting assignment as a journalism major that would ultimately change her future. It was then, in 2007, that Tibbetts learned the startling fact that four out of five girls in many countries don’t ever complete a basic education, trapping them in a vicious poverty cycle. Knowing she couldn’t write unbiasedly on the issue, she immediately became a passionate part of the solution. Working by day as a go-getting web editor at Hearst Magazines, by night and weekends Tibbetts was volunteering for a foundation that sponsored children and was building a school in Liberia.
In 2009, Tibbetts wanted to find a way to turn her social media skills—and the time and talents of her Millennial peers—into funds for girls around the world. She shared her idea for She’s the First on Facebook and then launched it as a YouTube video campaign with the teamwork of friends all under the age of 25.
The overwhelming response to She’s the First, and its promise that 100 percent of donations made to sponsor girls would go directly to its partner schools, evolved the foundation into the global 501c3 organization it is today. Now, there are 80+ campus chapters of She’s the First, all of which benefit from hands-on global leadership training programs. She’s the First exemplifies what non-profit means to a new generation, in the sense that sponsored girls recognized as She’s the First Scholars are valued as collaborators and peers in achieving the mission.
Through creative, social-media driven events and campaigns, in which thousands of cupcakes are baked and miles are run, the organization has funded more than 600 years of education for more than 300 scholars across 10 countries and counting.
In her first full year as the president of She’s the First, Tibbetts was honored by Diane von Furstenberg with a People’s Voice DVF Award at the United Nations, listed on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Education list, recognized among Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women, and featured on NBC’s American Giving Awards.
Tibbetts’ experiences as a reporter and influence on social media have since made her a tireless advocate and brand-builder who naturally connects with teens and professionals unsure of how to use their voice. Her Sharing the Story of She’s the First case studies of innovative projects and tangible steps that anyone can take to make a difference have made her a sought-after speaker known to motivate and inspire audiences.