Heather Lowery, President and CEO, Femme it Forward
President and CEO, Femme It Forward
Heather Lowery notes that because Femme It Forward officially launched right before the pandemic began, the organization “had to throw the initial playbook out the window” from the beginning.
“But that gave us time to step back and think about the best path forward while challenging us to be even more creative with how we’re connecting and empowering communities,” she says. “I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Lowery began Femme It Forward in April 2019 as an event series with panels and shows featuring all-women lineups (with stars like Cardi B and Jill Scott, along with newcomers like Kiana Lede) and by December 2019 it entered a joint venture with Live Nation, backed by Michael Rapino. The joint venture of the same name was announced to expand the platform’s reach across genres of music and entertainment mediums including female-led music festivals, concerts, original content, comedy shows, philanthropic endeavors, college engagements and more.
Femme It Forward is all about celebrating, educating and empowering women, while making sure every program it launches gives back in some way to support social justice and female empowerment.
“Our world has had an unequal share of voice for far too long and Femme It Forward’s mission has been to change that through our platform, in any way we can,” Lowery says. “This year has really opened our eyes to virtual programming and connecting people in new ways to empower and spotlight inspirational voices in an effort to create real and lasting change.
“We’ll always look for that live connection, but we’ve been able to expand our audience and opportunities this year, which will only make our Femme It Forward community stronger in the long run.”
One of Femme It Forward’s wins during the pandemic was helping to produce the first female edition of the virtual hip-hop battle “Verzuz” on Instagram Live with Erykah Badu and Jill Scott.
The organization launched a book club, Revolutionary Reads, to empower women of color and allies with the tools to cope with and participate in the fight for the equality of Black people in America through self-education and open discussion. Femme It Forward also introduced Self Love Sunday, a weekly digital series centered in self-care, and a virtual festival.
“Beyond all the work we’re doing with Femme It Forward as a whole, there’s one initiative that’s especially important to me – and, I believe, especially important to our industry,” Lowery says. “We are deep in the planning stages for Next Gem Femme, our mentorship program designed to accelerate the careers of young women of color by pairing 200 [women of] promising talent with women at the top of their fields. Not only will this program open a lot of doors for these young women, seeding the next generation of talent, it will connect them with amazing role models, who can teach and inspire them.”
The application process for mentees – women of color who are pursuing undergraduate / graduate studies or currently serving in entry-level positions – will begin in May, with the program’s launch in August. At least half of the mentee spots are reserved for students from historically Black colleges and universities.
Next Gem Femme’s mentor pool boasts more than 100 leading industry executives from an impressive list of companies including Amazon Music, Apple Music, iHeart Media, Atlantic Records, Capitol Music Group, Maverick Management, Columbia Records, Motown Records, Endeavor, ICM Partners, Interscope Geffen A&M, Live Nation, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, TikTok, Viacom Digital Studios, Revolt Media, Essence, WME and YouTube.
Prior to launching Femme It Forward, Lowery founded her own boutique agency, Agency For Artists, in 2005 and in 2017 she joined Live Nation as Vice President of Talent & Touring at Live Nation Urban, under the leadership of Shawn Gee, overseeing events including Roots Picnic and Broccoli City Festival.