A Q&A with Plan International Senior Director of Brand & Marketing, Jennifer Trainor

March 10, 2020

ForwardPMX team is excited to share our multi-part blog series celebrating International Women’s Day. We’re spotlighting women’s stories from across our global organization, sharing insights into the careers, passions, and the opportunities and challenges that have shaped their personal and professional lives.

In this Q&A, we heard from rockstar marketer and client, Jennifer Trainor, the Senior Director of Brand & Marketing for PLAN International. PLAN is dedicated to advancing children’s rights and equality for girls in over 75 countries. We spoke to Jen about the significance of International Women’s Day, why PLAN is officially teaming up with the UN Women’s Unstereotype Alliance, and the journey that landed her in her current role. If you’re looking to be inspired, read on!


1. Can you tell us more about PLAN International’s mission?

Plan International is global nonprofit that is taking a stand against targeted issues prohibiting girls and marginalized children around the world from reaching their full potential. Powered by our supporters, we’re partnering with adolescent girls and children to overcome oppression and achieve gender equality. What’s different about Plan’s work is how we engage girls to identify the issues, create solutions and make change happen.

2. What does your role at an organization like PLAN International mean to you, particularly during International Women’s Day and National Women’s month.

I’ve worked at Plan for just about 6 years now, and in that time, I’ve become so much more aware of the struggles that girls face in their everyday lives – issues like child marriage and human trafficking. Other than the need for clean water and staying in school, I would have been hard-pressed to articulate the challenges that are now so evident to me. On days like International Women’s Day, I feel so much hope, seeing all the encouragement, strength and recognition for women and girls coming from personal social media accounts, as well as brands that I admire and support. Putting gender equality at the center of the humanitarian aid conversation makes so much sense, and I’m really proud to be on the forefront of that work with Plan.

3. Give us the “90-second overview” of your career journey that landed you at PLAN.

I love telling stories and writing, so I majored in communications at the Newhouse School, Syracuse University. I wanted to write screenplays. But geography and bills were factors in pursuing such a “right place, right time” career, so I caved and went the corporate route. I spent 15 years in communications and marketing in the financial services industry, which afforded me a great opportunity to blend my creative instincts with the strategic skills I was developing. Making the leap from corporate to nonprofit held a strong appeal for me, as I wanted to contribute to more than a bottom line. And then there was Plan… We’re a great fit!

4. Talk to us about PLAN’s involvement in the Unstereotype Alliance.

I was thrilled to hear that Plan was partnering this International Women’s Day with the UN Women, the United Nations entity for Gender Equality, on a new initiative – The Unstereotype Alliance. The Alliance is a thought and action platform that seeks to eradicate harmful gender-based stereotypes in all media and advertising content. By increasing awareness of the use of stereotypes and how they contribute to the gender equality divide, hopefully we can gain significant ground in the fight for equality. The Alliance partners are asking the advertising industry to be a force for good, and to drive positive change all over the world. The time to ignore this problem has passed. I think we’re in the midst of a “perfect storm” for change realization. And we’re so thrilled that our partners at ForwardPMX joined Plan by signing the pledge to not commission or create work that includes the use of harmful gender stereotypes that limit the potential of girls and young women.

5. What advice would you give to the industry about ensuring we abide by the values of the Unstereotype Alliance?

Create diverse (race, class, age, ability, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, language, education, etc.) project teams to ensure that the work has input and representation from a variety of viewpoints. Seek feedback on strategies and creative output. Test with the end user – so often this step is overlooked. It doesn’t have to be overly formal – a focus group or a statistically relevant number – in all cases, it can be a simple feedback/sharing loop.

6. What would you tell the next generation of female leaders to help them be successful in their future careers?

Don’t strive to be a “girlboss.” Is anybody out there calling themselves a “boyboss?” Just be the “boss.” That is, if you want to be!

For more information on Plan International, follow this link.

To learn more about the Unstereotype Alliance, follow this link.

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