In 2012, I joined the YWCA’s Junior Board in Greenville, SC. The YWCA USA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. In Greenville, our YWCA had been a staple in the community for over 40 years. The Junior Board was created for young professional women and empowered and trained its members for future board service and community work.
In my three plus years as a member, I helped to plan our annual Masquerade Ball, served as the chair of that event committee, then became Vice President. I really enjoyed being a part of the Junior Board because I had the opportunity to meet like-minded women and helped to support a wonderful organization in my community.
As I transitioned to the role of president, things changed for the YWCA and by default, the Junior Board. Over a period of several months, the YWCA board had to make the heart wrenching decision to close the doors of the community organization. There were a variety of factors that led up to this difficult decision, but it left the Junior Board in a challenging predicament- do we disband with the rest of the Y, or do we do something different? We decided to move forward with the latter option. While there were other groups in town for women and for young professionals, we felt like we had a niche, and something special that we weren’t ready to end quite yet.
Over the course of a few months, a group of us led by myself and a friend who was the vice president, created what is now LeadHER Greenville. We had a base of the YWCA’s Junior Board, so we knew what we wanted the group to feel like and knew we wanted the group to have a community focus and well as a focus on developing its members. The next few months were hard. While we had a foundation of what we wanted the group to stand for, we had to create a new organization. We had to figure out things like logo design, bank account, did we want to become an official nonprofit?, what about bylaws?, where would our meetings be held? There was a lot of work ahead of us. The group of us banded together to create something we are all incredibly proud of. We created an organization that exists to empower its members through professional development and outreach to the community.
That first group of us learned a lot of tangible skills (like bylaw creation), but we also learned that a group of women with purpose and passion can do anything they set their minds to. We learned that we had the power to make a real change in our community. And that experience laid the groundwork for the coaching side of Sharp Brain Consulting.
Three years ago, LeadHER Greenville hosted its first Symposium for young professional women in Greenville. This year the Symposium will be held on April 28th from 8:30-2:00 at the Commerce Club. Tickets are $25 for the full day and can be purchased here. There will be a variety of speakers and a panel. I will be there discussing unconscious bias, diversity and the brain. I would love to see you there!