Young Women Social Entrepreneurs hosts a global network of women change-makers organized and led through volunteer chapter networks. YWSE provides an environment in where change-makers visions and goals are affirmed, supported, promoted, and propelled.


YWSE brings women to the highest positions of leadership in business, government, and social and environmental work by providing training, access to resources, networking opportunities, and support for our members.

“YWSE helped me acknowledge myself as more than just a changemaker but a woman of value. I learned that I have the inner ability to lead and transform myself and others who are hungry for change. YWSE is a place where young social and business women can support one another through leadership and professional fellowship.”
— Zanele Mabaso, The Young Social Entrepreneurs Academy

Our Core Values
Principles that Guide our Work

  • Desire and passion lead our decisions and roles.
  • We practice full authenticity and honesty with one another and ourselves.
  • We listen deeply.
  • We value and enjoy the process as well as the product.  We intend our YWSE experience to serve us every step of the way.
  • We are accountable and responsible for our contributions, strengths and weaknesses as individuals.
  • We act with integrity aligning this work with our deepest values.
  • We practice intimacy, sisterhood and respect to stay connected and effective as a team.
  • We act for the good of the whole (including ourselves, the Board, YWSE’s membership and the world).
  • We trust in one another and ourselves, and in the synergy of opportunities and challenges that arise for us as an organization.
  • We believe in the abundance of resources, time and opportunities.
  • We bring levity to our work and have fun!

The YWSE Founding Story

Sisterhood, respect, intimacy, levity and fun are not just words encased in the core values of YWSE.  They represent the founding story of our organization.

In late 1999, Sara Ellis Conant and Niko Everett started to discuss their mutual passion for building a career that was not only financially successful but also made a significant positive impact in the world. As they walked down a Santa Cruz beach, their vision grew — to bring together other women who wanted both success and social impact.

A month later, eleven women sat around Sara’s living room. They were innovative thinkers who were committed to social change. From this was born the beginning of a community of women who shared the desire to make a social impact through their careers and personal lives.

Within two months of their first meeting in Sara’s living room, the group grew to sixty women, all by word of mouth.  The energy continued to grow and in June of 2000, Young Women Social Entrepreneurs (at the time unnamed) held its first weekend retreat at Niko’s home in Santa Cruz. At the retreat the group began to formulate how they could support each other to propel forward towards their inspiration and vision.

The retreat only proved to strengthen the desire for this kind of group and in August of 2000, Niko and Sara were joined by Michelle Lapinski, Erin Carlson, Carrie Miller and Kaia Roman who together kicked off what is now Young Women Social Entrepreneurs.

YWSE’s national growth has been an organic one. However, Sara had a vision for national growth early on and used her experience as a development director to raise $30,000 for YWSE’s national expansion. Sara’s vision came to fruition in 2002 and beyond when other women launched chapters in major cities across the United States.

As of 2012, there are 6 chapters in the United States — in San Francisco, New York, Portland, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Miami — and chapters forming internationally in Kenya and Mexico City. Sara Ellis Conant and Michelle Lapinski continue to forward YWSE’s growth as the National Board Members.

Continued national growth will be inspired and led by women who seek to share our vision and values with other women in their communities.  As YWSE grows, we will focus on staying true to our roots. We were born from a drive and passion to lead meaningful lives. We are aware that everything we do impacts our community, and therefore we strive to make positive social changes in our environment, our businesses, and our personal lives.

We thank you for taking on this challenge.  We are here to support you every step of the YWSE way!

“YWSE helped me create a vision for my future as a social entrepreneur, that I could start a for-profit enterprise that contributed good to the world.”
— Jessica Rolph, Founding Partner, Happy Family

YWSE National Board

Sara Ellis Conant                                 Michelle Lapinski                               Liz Zirk                               Adriana Dakin
YWSE Co-Founder                                   YWSE Co-Founder                                 Global Board Member             Global Board Member  
Global Board Member                              Global Board Member

YWSE Global Council

Our awesome former chapter leadership & all-stars

Emily Sadigh

Niko Everett
YWSE, Co-Founder

Johanna Salazaar

Sabrina Hersi Issa

Natalia Oberti Noguera

Kari Litzman

Rachel Zedeck
YWSE Afghanistan & Nairobi

Charlene Dipaola

Christine LeMieux


Kristine R.Surla

Hannah Jang

Emmy Negrin

Join Young Women Social Entrepreneurs

Join a Chapter

Young Women Social Entrepreneurs is a global values-based learning community to support the next generation of women changemakers and YWSE cities with active chapters proudly welcome new members to join the community! 

What to know

  • Each YWSE chapter is all-volunteer organized 
  • Events and workshops vary by city and are driven by the needs of its members
  • The 'Young' designation of YWSE is a concept of spirit – age is only a number and our members reflect a range of generations
  • Contact YWSE chapter directly or fill out the form below

Start a Chapter

Interested in launching a chapter of Young Women Social Entrepreneurs in your city? We are thrilled to host a global network of women changemakers committed to building community and driving positive impact in the world. If you're interested in starting a YWSE chapter, read below for more information and contact us today! 


  • YWSE Global facilitates new chapter on-boarding and guide new chapter leaders through our chapter manual 
  • Prospective chapter leaders join our monthly All-Hands calls for updates with current chapter leaders, Global Council members and YWSE Global board members

Contact Us Today

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