Sarah Panis ‘12: Fearless Female, Leader and Entrepreneur

Wednesday, October 10, 2018TOPICS: Conferences and WorkshopsAlumniInnovation and EntrepreneurshipSpotlights

USD alumna, Sarah Panis '12
begin quoteIn addition to founding Gritty Movement, Panis also empowers at-risk girls in San Diego through her role as a mentor and board member for the non-profit organization, Girls Rising.

USD alumna Sarah Panis (Marketing ‘12) is well known throughout the San Diego community not only for her flourishing business acumen and leadership skills but also for her contributions to empowering women throughout the city. After growing up in a household of strong women who helped guide her throughout her childhood and adolescence, she struggled to find such strong female mentors in the workplace. Tired of being unable to find these resources in her community, she took the initiative to create it herself. Thus, Gritty Movement was founded in 2017.

“I found that most women's groups were siloed by industry or organization such as 'Women in (insert industry here).' The ones that weren't, were either super professional to the point of feeling very stuffy or all fun and inspiration and not very tactical,” says Panis.  “I wanted Gritty Movement to live in that gap and serve this generation's women leaders in the style and setting we're accustomed to.”

Gritty Movement is a company that supports women in leadership through coaching, company workshops and retreats, and shared online resources. Recently, Panis hosted the company’s first annual Gritty Leadership Conference, which brought together over 200 women leaders and entrepreneurs to inspire and motivate each other to push their businesses to the next level. Participants and keynote speakers shared their stories of grit, scaling businesses and leading their teams to success.

“We're still far from true equality in the workplace,” says Panis. “It's important for us to have conversations about what we can do to drive change forward as well as encourage each other along the way.”

In addition to founding Gritty Movement, Panis also empowers at-risk girls in San Diego through her role as a mentor and board member for the non-profit organization, Girls Rising.

“I was so impressed by the organization's personalized and data-driven approach,  as well as with the educational events they hosted for the girls in their program,” says Panis. “I wanted to get more involved.”

Drawing on themes from Gritty Movement’s mission, Panis helps host Girls Rising Career Day, which is an event for at-risk girls in San Diego to learn from and interact with diverse career women.

Seeing Panis thrive in her work environment and take initiative to empower women of all ages, makes the USD School of Business proud to say she’s one of our alumni. Although she graduated in 2012, Panis describes how lessons she learned at USD continue to influence her professional life.

“In all of my business classes at USD, we were encouraged to think of ourselves as global citizens which really shaped my belief that business leaders are required to act responsibly and always consider social impact,” says Panis. “That belief is the foundation for everything I do in consulting and in curating event/conference content.”

Some of her fondest memories of USD stem from the friends and classmates she met here who she still connects with both personally and professionally.

Panis is eager to return to USD to speak at the School of Business’ 7th Annual Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference on Thursday, October 11. There, she will join several alumni panelists in sharing advice, entrepreneurial stories, and knowledge they wished they had known before starting their journey.

“I’m most excited about learning from other entrepreneurs at the Legacy Entrepreneurship Conference,” says Panis. “I’m also looking forward to hearing new business ideas from students!”


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658