A new nonprofit aims to empower Alaska women professionally, through mentorship and community building.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, men in Alaska earn about 20% more than their female counterparts. Kimberly Waller, founder of the Women's Power League of Alaska (WPLAK), says she's leading the charge to overcome obstacles like the gender pay gap by bringing women together as a team. 

"I think just the sisterhood, that's so important, you know," Waller said at the organization's first meet-and-greet for members last week. "We want to give women safe spaces to communicate about anything and everything that's happening in their community."

Waller grew up in Anchorage, but her career as a broadcaster took her all the way to New York City — she landed jobs with MTV and iHeartRadio, where she continues to host a weekly program. Waller says WPLAK is a project designed to give back.

"I think that in Alaska, there's a lot of opportunities for mentorship if you're just coming out of high school, or if you're in high school," she said. "But for women like me, I was a late-bloomer and so it took me a little longer to make those inroads, to figure out what I wanted to do."

The league launched its 20-Something Mentorship Project in January. The program features 28 professional women in Anchorage from an array of industries.

"These are Alaska success stories," Waller said. "These are doctors, lawyers, the list goes on; women in cosmetology and beauty."

The mentors have now been paired with women who are just starting out in their professional careers. Together, they'll spend the next several months mapping out professional goals and brainstorming ways to achieve them.

Through the program, Waller says WPLAK aims to create relationships between mentors too, to weave a network of women who can help each other rise to new levels.

If all goes well this year, Waller says she plans to repeat the mentorship program in 2020.

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