International Women's Day, Women's History Month, Thought Leadership

Celebrating Women's History Month: An Interview with Denise Wang-Kline

In honor of Women’s History Month, I had the opportunity to engage in a meaningful conversation with Denise Wang-Kline, CEO of Kindest, about what this month signifies to her as a female leader.

From personal anecdotes to professional insights, Denise shares her reflections, milestones, and advice for aspiring female leaders. Join us as we explore this Q&A session, celebrating the resilience, determination, and enduring impact of women this month and beyond. 

What does Women's History Month mean to you?

Women's History Month holds a deeply personal resonance for me. It's a time to reflect on the incredible women who have shaped my journey and influenced my path as a leader. From my grandmother, to my first mentor out of college, to colleagues who have partnered and collaborated with me, they were instrumental in my professional development. This month is a celebration of the relentless determination, invaluable contributions, and enduring impact of women across diverse fields and communities.

Reflecting on your journey, how have you found inspiration in the women around you?

Inspiration has been abundant in my journey, coming from various sources. My grandmother was a strong and tenacious woman who defied the traditional roles and expectations of women in China during the late 1800s. She taught me the importance of setting high expectations and working tirelessly to achieve them. 

My career right out of college was in the hospitality industry. There I met Birgit Radin, my manager and mentor who modeled for me that an effective leader is someone who is willing to make fair and equitable decisions that sometimes are difficult and the outcome may not satisfy everyone. 

Throughout my career, I've also been fortunate to have many other mentors and colleagues who have guided and supported me, shaping my character, values, and vision as a leader.

What experiences have been especially meaningful to you as a female leader?

Well, I would say, raising my children and managing our home is one that stands out. Midway through my early career, I chose to take a break from my career to stay home and raise my children. During those years,  I learned invaluable lessons in organization, persistence, nurturing talent, empathy, and adapting to the unexpected. So here’s a shout out to all the moms out there who despite not earning a paycheck for their work, are CEOs in their own right. During that time, I found ways to keep my professional skills current by volunteering and serving in leadership roles at nonprofit boards. 

When I returned to the workforce, I leveraged my experiences as a hospitality professional, mom and volunteer and chose to lean into my passion for service to work in the nonprofit sector. This led me to eventually becoming Vice President of Development at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco for nine years where I led a team of fundraising and marketing professionals to successfully execute the organization’s annual fundraising and marketing goals. 

I became the CEO of Kindest because of my deep understanding and experience in nonprofit fundraising operational needs. My goal is to lead Kindest to become the best in-class fundraising technology product that automates planning, execution and management of the nonprofit’s annual fundraising plan resulting in improved operating efficiency and productivity.

Each of these experiences, whether personal or professional, has shaped my identity as a leader and fueled my passion for making a difference.

Define a great leader. What traits do you believe are essential for effective leadership?

Great leaders, in my view, possess decisiveness, discipline, and empathy. They have the ability to make difficult decisions, maintain focus and accountability, and understand and connect with the needs and experiences of others.

What advice would you give to women aspiring to pursue careers in the nonprofit sector or nonprofit technology?

Combine passion with discipline, advocate for yourself, and be willing to embrace difficult challenges that make you or your organization stronger. The nonprofit sector offers unique opportunities for impact and fulfillment, but it requires dedication, perseverance, and a willingness to adapt to change.

As we conclude Women’s History Month, what message do you have for women everywhere?

Let’s honor the past, celebrate the present, and salute the women who have influenced our lives, our community, and the world. Many will only be known to ourselves and others will be renowned, but let us continue to inspire, empower, and uplift one another, knowing that our collective efforts will shape a better tomorrow.

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About Taylor Collins

UX, Digital Strategy & Marketing at Kindest
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