Judy Kan, Executive Director, HER Fund, shares with WiFA her experience with mentorship, who she admires, how she promotes diversity and gender equality, and much more

Tell us about your background and the journey to your current position and organisation.

Before I joined HER Fund, I volunteered for Oxfam HK. I realised that bridging resources is very important to give back the power to the community, especially those who are invisible and a minority, to make social change with and by the community. Then I worked as a community organiser in a local NGO. 

Life is full of surprises! My former supervisor introduced HER Fund to me, so I started as a Grant Officer to walk the journey with the community women leaders and our grantee partner organisations. HER Fund is the only community women’s fund to advance gender equality by grant-making and capacity building in Hong Kong. Our grantee partners are grassroots organisations in Hong Kong working directly in their communities to fight gender inequality. HER Fund believes the community leaders we work with know best what their communities need most, and we trust their decisions when it comes to making the biggest difference for gender equality. In 2018, we faced a leadership transition, and I decided to take up the challenge to become the Executive Director role in leading HER Fund to another stage. 

 Mentors play an important role in the development of many careers. If you have/had a mentor, what is the one take away message or inspiration that he/she passed on to you?

Mentors play a significant role during a leadership transition period. It was difficult for me to make the decision to assume the role of leader in HER Fund. After becoming the Executive Director, my mentor provided a lot of support on building my leadership capacity and resilience capability. 

One take away inspiration that my mentor passed on to me is to become a transformational leader. My mentor would take care of my emotions, encourage me, ask questions to facilitate me to think rather than “tell me the answer”, etc. I would then take a holistic approach to mentor my staff team rather than “manage” them. 

Please tell us how you or someone in your life that you admire provided hope or healing to the family or community.

Linda To, HER Fund’s founder and former Executive Director, inspired me to provide hope to the community. I can see her passion for gender equality and women’s empowerment. We faced many challenges and difficulties in the past years, but she would never give up. She knows that our grantee partner organisations need us to bridge resources. We are responsible for changing the philanthropy landscape so that our grantee partner organisations can secure enough funding to promote gender equality. 

How do you promote diversity and gender equality in your own life and workplace?

I promote diversity and gender equality every day as this is the mission of HER Fund! We give the grassroots and marginalised community financial grants to eliminate poverty, gender-based violence, and discrimination and advance women’s civil participation. We provide transformative feminist leadership training to women leaders and organisers to become more sustainable leaders. We also offer different workshops and sharing on organisational strengthening. 

In my personal life, I am trying to be a feminist mother. I try to inspire my son (12 years old) to see things differently. I am open to discussing topics with him that may be considered taboo such as menstruation and LGBT issues. It is not an easy journey as social norms surround him.