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Building effective support for women in workplace challenges

The Her Life Ally Project

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In 2023, a group of women based in the San Francisco Bay Area designed and piloted a "workplace first-aid" program for women leaders facing challenging workplace situations -- ranging from acute, targeted situations to slow-burn, stagnating circumstances.


We received 135 registrants within two weeks, purely by word-of-mouth. We served 20 women together between October and December 2023.


Princeton University's Adversity and Relationships in Context Lab was our research partner. ​


[1] Our workplace first-aid pilot had statistically significant effects on women leaders’ motivation (+43%), focus and productivity (+50%), confidence (+60%), reduction in burn-out (-34%), and perception that they have adequate support to navigate their challenge (+101%).

[2] The program received a Net Promoter Score of 100 because it directly met women leaders' lived experience of isolation with reconnection, feelings of overwhelm with practical support and resources, and loss of dignity/identity with listening and validation. 

[3] This White Paper shares with you our pilot findings. Discover the key elements of our program enabling such significant results. These can be implemented in other programs which support women leaders. Whether you are a woman in leadership or an organization wanting to support women better, you will find practical, implementable insights. We look forward to fruitful collaborations. 


A note from Karen Tay and Cyrena Chih, creators of the Her Life Ally Project

Welcome! We are Cyrena and Karen - fellow journeyers with both privilege and adversity in our stories.

We live in the Bay Area and have built careers spanning technology, media, education, government and executive coaching. We attended Princeton as undergraduates five years apart. Yet, we found that despite our access to education, resources, professional networks and good friends, challenging situations created a sense of isolation and overwhelm – knowing we needed help but unsure how to talk about it, who could help, and what our options and the path ahead might look like.

We appreciated women's networks and leadership circles (in fact, we met at one!) but found ourselves asking the similar questions:

  • Why did messages about self-advocacy and empowerment feel lacking in the face of our, and our peers’ challenges?

  • How might we help women navigate safely and find trusted support quickly when they encounter adversity?

  • How might we center around each woman’s healing, confidentiality and choice? 

That’s why we started the Her Life Ally Project in 2023, and we are grateful to be sharing with you the results today. In 2024 and beyond, we are excited to apply the concepts we learned from the workplace first-aid pilot to support women in different types of circumstances (see below for details). 


Correspondences on the White Paper, as well as questions about supporting women in workplace challenges, adversities and emergencies, should be directed to Karen Tay.

Email: karen[at]threshold-allies[dot]com



Questions and correspondence about applying these concepts to supporting women in relational abuse (including domestic violence, intimate partner violence, coercive control, etc.) should be directed to Cyrena Chih.

Email: herally.cyrena[at]gmail[dot]com


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Thank you!

We would like to acknowledge contributors to the Her Life Ally Project. You were our allies in allying women, and we are so grateful for you!


Allies: Minli Virdone (Ally), Vaishnavi J (Ally) Kristen Knepper Bahbahani (Ally), Trish Chandiramani (Ally), Samantha Kwan (Ally), Ivy Ka-yee Lau (Ally)


Engineering, Design, Marketing: Jeffrey Lui (Engineering), Samantha Kwan (Marketing), Selina Walker (Design), Felicia Toh (Design), Mai Pariyakorn (Intern), Yuka Childers (Intern)


Administration, Legal: Kenneth Tay (Administration), Natalie Kim (Advisor, legal), Helen Foo (Administration), Jonathan Chan (Legal, Wilson Sonsini), Barath Chari (Legal, Wilson Sonsini), Angela Chan (Legal, Wilson Sonsini), Doo Lee (Legal, Wilson Sonsini), Kristin Bradley (Legal, Wilson Sonsini), Layan Khrais (Legal, Wilson Sonsini).

Advisors: Cammie Dunaway, DJ Bahl, Cindy Collister, Giorgia Bianchi

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