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Empowering Girls To Build A Brighter Future For All

Empowering Girls To Build A Brighter Future For All

International Day of the Girl is recognized annually on October 11. At The Orchard, we are fortunate to see many women in leadership roles throughout the company. But this is not often the case throughout the industry, US, or globally. Through mentorship, volunteering and community action, and representation, The Orchard is passionate in our advocacy for gender equality.

One of The Orchard’s employees that has consistently been at the forefront of this advocacy is Marissa Putney, Vice President of International Label Management. On top of her tireless dedication to her position at The Orchard, Marissa is currently spearheading an internal Women of The Orchard collective and is very involved in volunteer work for the Studio Samuel Foundation.

International Day of the Girl recognizes the challenges young women face to access the resources needed to thrive. Studio Samuel Foundation is one of these resources. Based in Ethiopia, their mission is to create pathways for girls to reach their full potential through education and employable skills. We spoke with Marissa about the organization and her involvement with Studio Samuel. Learn more and join their International Day of the Girl celebration this Sunday, October 10.

How did you first become familiar with the Studio Samuel Foundation?

I learned about Studio Samuel Foundation when the founder Tamara Horton, a music industry work colleague and friend, adopted her son from Ethiopia. She wanted to do more to help improve the lives of Ethiopians and made a courageous leap into starting a nonprofit organization. I was incredibly moved by her vision and passion, which very much mirrored my interests, and decided to dedicate my spare time to volunteering where I could.

In what ways have you participated with Studio Samuel Foundation? 

I’ve worn many hats during my time with Studio Samuel. I’ve assisted with grant writing where I secured a small grant of used computers for the computer lab. I also spoke about Studio Samuel’s mission at speaking engagements with Sony Music Entertainment, American Express, DKT International, Women Thrive, International Center for Research on Women, and others.  At times, I’ve stepped in to help with marketing, fundraising, and I’ve even created early models for impact reporting. I’m currently assisting with donor management.

The most gratifying work was done when I traveled to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and spent time at the Studio Samuel training center. While in Ethiopia, I was able to connect with the Studio Samuel staff, beneficiaries and their families and became very close to so many wonderful people. Ethiopia is an incredibly beautiful country with such a rich culture. 

It is girls who hold the key to building a brighter future not only for each other, but for their communities and the world, when given the opportunity.

Marissa Putney, VP International Label Management, The Orchard

What about the organization speaks to you personally?

Studio Samuel built their framework with careful consideration and participation of the people living in the district (or woreda) in which the Studio Samuel center is based. It is this key factor that has allowed for Studio Samuel to not only gain the trust and support of the local families and government but also contributed to the substantial impact made, and continues to make, in the lives of young girls. 

There is a big event coming up for International Day of the Girl. Can you tell us about that? 

Studio Samuel is hosting a virtual event on Sunday, October 10th at 1 pm ET to celebrate the girls who are graduating from Training for Tomorrow, Studio Samuel’s flagship after school program.  During the event, people will get to hear from graduates, community leaders and a few other special guests. All ticket sales help fund the Studio Samuel Girls’ Scholarship Fund. You can visit this website for more details. 

What is the significance of International Day of the Girl? What is the goal in recognizing this day?

International Day of the Girl holds a lot of significance for Studio Samuel as this day, declared by the United Nations, focuses on the promotion of girls’ empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights. Those same values are the fabric of Studio Samuel’s misson. It is girls who hold the key to building a brighter future not only for each other, but for their communities and the world, when given the opportunity.  

What would you consider to be some of your biggest accomplishments while volunteering? 

I think my biggest accomplishment with Studio Samuel is continuing to find ways to help. Because the organization is still a small operation, the pockets of time I am able to contribute goes a long way. For anyone who is thinking about volunteering, I would highly recommend it. You not only get to learn more about the world around you (I think we could all use a little more empathy) but you also get to meet some really great people along the way. 

If you’d like to learn more, follow SSF on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram or if you’d like to get involved, Studio Samuel Foundation is currently recruiting Impact Committee volunteers! If you are interested, contact [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.

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