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Flashbacks on SheRise Gala

 
The SheRise Gala, our first highly anticipated annual fundraising event on March 21, 2024, was an unforgettable evening filled with inspiration, unity, and hope. As a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering women and fostering their personal and professional growth, we were overwhelmed by the incredible support from our community, sponsors, and attendees. The night was marked by a moving talk by Executive Coach, Kim Meninger who talked about how to walk on a tight rope. Kristen DeFrancisco shared heartwarming stories about her experiences volunteering, being a mentee and ultimately mentoring for WA. 
 
Thank you for the support of donors and attendees, we raised vital funds that will enable us to expand our programs, providing even more women with the tools and opportunities they need to rise and thrive. Thank you to everyone who made this event a resounding success. Your generosity and belief in our cause propel us forward in our journey to create a brighter, more equitable future for all women.



Fundraising as a non-profit is never easy, and it never ends. But today, we pause and thank our sponsors, donors, members, families, friends, and community for turning out  to support us and raise funds so we can bring more programs to the women who deserve them the most.
Finally, we would like to thank all the sponsors, donors, staffs, and speakers who are supporting this event. 

Thank you to our sponsors: Eastern Bank, Tomo360,  Greater Lowell Community Foundation; Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union, Carrie & Eric Meikle; University of Massachusetts Lowell

Thank you to our Silent Auction Donors: Maria Milagros Vazquez; Jade Lowell Restaurant; BRONCA; Mallory Portraits; invisaWear; The Female Catalyst; Spirited Gourmet; UML Pickleball Team; University of Massachusetts Lowell; Carrie & Eric Meikle; Lowell Five Bank; Alison Hughes

Thanks to our inspiring speakers, Kim Meninger, MBA, PCC, Kristen DeFrancisco, and Susu for bringing a wonderful talk on WA and the experience of moving forward.
 

Finally, a huge shout out to the WA team:

Thank you to our amazing and talented volunteers! 

Akena Andonegui Segovich
Ajeeta Dash
Amba Nair
Cenyao Xiong
Emily Goh
Jennifer Shire
Kim Meninger
Kristen DeFrancisco
Lakisha Brinson
Nicole Boyson
Shruti Parikh
Suhasini Murali Iyengar
Susu Wong

Thank you for believing in our mission and helping us make a difference. Together, we can Engage, Empower and Elevate each other. 
 
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Empowering Women: Catalyst for Global Progress

Welcome, advocates for change! International Women’s Day is a powerful symbol of the ongoing journey toward gender equality, highlighting both the strides achieved and the remaining challenges. Amidst celebrating the remarkable accomplishments of women and girls worldwide, let’s take a moment to unpack the profound message of the United Nations on Women’s Day 2024. Together, let’s embark on a journey of exploration, delving into how this message aligns seamlessly with the vision, mission, and goals of Women Accelerators—a shining light of hope and empowerment for women aspiring to be in leadership roles.
 


UN Women’s Day 2024: Igniting Change
“On this International Women’s Day, we stand in solidarity with women and girls everywhere and acknowledge their remarkable achievements in the ongoing fight for equality. While we celebrate these victories, we must also confront the stark realities faced by billions of women and girls who encounter marginalization, injustice, and discrimination daily.”

The UN Secretary-General’s message underscores the urgent need to accelerate progress towards gender equality, emphasizing the theme “Invest in women: Accelerate progress.” Despite significant strides, our world still grapples with entrenched power dynamics that perpetuate inequality. The alarming reality is that achieving legal equality could take three hundred years—a timeline that is simply unacceptable.

We must invest in women and girls at every level to catalyze meaningful change. This entails providing financial support to women’s organizations, implementing programs to end violence against women, and fostering women’s inclusion and leadership across various sectors, including economies, digital technologies, peacebuilding, and climate action. By unlocking finance for sustainable development and increasing women’s representation in leadership roles, we will pave the way for fair, peaceful, and prosperous societies for all.

Empowering through Women Accelerators: Vision and Mission
At Women Accelerators, our vision is clear: to cultivate a world where every woman has the opportunity to unleash her full potential and shape history. 
Our mission centers on providing women with the tools, resources, and networks needed to thrive in their careers and bridge the gender gap. We are committed to fostering a community of empowered women who support each other in achieving success in the workplace and beyond.
Our organization serves women at all stages of their careers, offering networking opportunities, mentorship programs, and educational resources tailored to their professional goals. By engaging, empowering, and elevating women, we strive to create a more inclusive and equitable society where gender parity is not just an aspiration but a reality.

How do we do it?

By offering a one-stop platform, a hub where career-driven women can tap into a treasure trove of customized resources.

Picture this: endless networking possibilities, mentorship programs overflowing with guidance, and educational initiatives ripe for exploration.

But it doesn’t stop there. We’re all about fostering a tight-knit community of kindred spirits, a support system where women uplift and propel each other forward.

Our ultimate goal is to craft an atmosphere where women not only navigate but dominate the professional landscape, leaving an indelible mark on their respective fields.

Aligned with our mission, Women Accelerators pursues several key objectives:

Promoting Leadership: We aim to empower women to step into leadership roles across various domains, spanning corporate boardrooms to entrepreneurial ventures.

Advancing Diversity: We’re staunch advocates for diversity and inclusivity, recognizing the significance of amplifying diverse voices and perspectives to fuel creativity and innovation.

Cultivating Networks: Our array of networking events and mentorship programs facilitate meaningful connections, allowing women to glean insights, share experiences, and bolster each other’s growth.

Driving Impact: Ultimately, we aim to catalyze tangible, sustainable change by empowering women to realize their full potential and contribute to positive societal transformation.

Syncing Ambitions: Alignment with UN Women’s Day Message:
The alignment between the UN Women’s Day Message for 2024 and the vision, mission, and goals of Women Accelerators is unmistakable. Both underscore the pivotal role of investing in women to expedite progress towards gender equality and empowerment. By backing women’s organizations, championing women’s leadership, and nurturing inclusive spaces, we can spark transformative shifts and forge a fairer, more inclusive global community for everyone.
 
Transitioning from Aspiration to Action: A Collective Call
Inspired by the powerful synergy between the UN Women’s Day Message and Women Accelerators’ mission, we must transition from aspiration to action. Whether you’re a seasoned advocate or a newcomer to the cause, there are countless ways to contribute to this collective effort:
 
  1. Educate Yourself: Dedicate time to deepening your understanding of the challenges confronting women and girls worldwide and committing to becoming a well-informed and empathetic supporter.
  2. Amplify Voices: Utilize your platform and privilege to amplify women’s voices, particularly those belonging to marginalized communities, and advocate fiercely for their rights and recognition.
  3. Support Women-Owned Businesses: Deliberately support women-owned businesses and initiatives, whether through mentorship, collaboration, or financial backing.
  4. Advocate for Change: Engage with policymakers and stakeholders to push for policies and practices that champion gender equality, diversity, and inclusivity locally and on a broader scale.
  5. Lead by Example: Serve as a beacon of inspiration in your personal and professional spheres, embodying the values of equality, respect, and empowerment in every interaction and endeavor you undertake.
Conclusion: Committing to the Journey
Concluding our deep dive into the UN Women’s Day Message for 2024 and its resonance with Women Accelerators’ vision, mission, and goals, it’s crucial to remember that achieving gender equality isn’t a sprint but a marathon. It demands consistent dedication, collaborative endeavors, and steadfast commitment from all parties involved. Let’s prioritize women’s empowerment, unite in determination, and invest in creating a future of equity and inclusivity for all.
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Women Owned Businesses

Imani owner of Tafari Wraps

To celebrate Women’s History Month, Women Accelerators is highlighting a few women who inspire us to reach our potential and follow our dreams. Imani from Tafari Wraps and Daniela from Selfie World share their advice and solutions to challenges that come with running your own business. A bonus, these two tenacious women are local from the Boston area.

TAFARI WRAPS

African-Inspired Head Wraps, Accessories & Décor | Tafari Wraps

Instagram: @tafariwraps

Imani from Tafari wraps knew she always wanted to run her own business from the early age of eighteen. She won a fashion competition in Boston, MA, and was awarded a trip to Bermuda with the opportunity to design a competition gown for Miss Bermuda to wear in the Ms. World and Universe Pageant. Now you may wonder, how does one findTafari Wraps the inspiration to create something of their own that leads to entering competitions and designing clothing for models? Imani was homeless at the age of fourteen because of her personal journey in acceptance of her Rastafarian faith. She took an unfortunate situation and created something beautiful. She shares, “I had to learn how to make my own clothes because what I envision myself wearing wasn’t available and even if it was, I couldn’t afford them.”

Why did you start your company?

Imani shares that she started Tafari Wraps to erase the negative stigma placed upon black cultural attire and home décor. Her goal was to celebrate her African and Caribbean heritage through head wraps, wearable art, and art education. Tafari Wraps was created to inspire change and restore dignity by using African textile which depicts the landscape of Africa and bold colorful silks with the vibrancy of the Caribbean to uplift the spirit.

Imani and her daughter, Delmeshia, currently run Tafari Wraps.  Imani also tells her goal is, “To build a family legacy.”

What was your inspiration?

Experiencing racism in corporate America is what fueled Imani to start Tafari Wraps. She shares being chastised by co-workers and clients while working as an on-the-road decorator in a high-end decorating firm in Boston’s Back Bay.

Do you have any motivators?

Imani shares that one of her coworkers made a derogatory statement while she was on the job. This fueled her to move from the corporate world and start the House of Tafari Collection. She also shares with us some of her personal mentors and credits them to, Ms. Joyce Williams, Cynthia Kalian- Kaminsky and as well as a host of others. Her sister Lee and Dotsilee McFarlane, always advertise my work through word of mouth. My daughter Delmeshia Haynes is my partner, friend, mentor, and teacher.  Friends and business associates from the Caribbean and African American communities in Boston.  Organizations such as Nu Market, local and international media platforms, such as The Boston Globe, Bay State Banner, Exhale Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WGBH.

What is a piece of advice you can give to readers who are thinking about pursuing their own business?

Make sure you start a business with products or services that solve a problem or problems.

Selfie WRLD Boston

Instagram: @_daniela.ma

Daniela Martinez is an influencer/Youtuber who runs Selfie WRLD located in Boston, MA. She was always looking for a new place to take pictures and decided to put her creativity into power by creating Selfie WRLD. Daniela knew she always wanted to run her own business, but she was not sure what that would be. That being said, Selfie WRLD ended up being an added bonus, and she shares her dream business is “yet to come.”

Do you have any motivators?

She shares that she wouldn’t be where she is if it wasn’t for Ashley Wilkerson, the owner of the first-ever Selfie WRLD and the Selfie WRLD brand. Daniela credits her fellow co-workers and teammates, Emiel Barbosa and Jermoe Wilson who she shares “are the rocks that keep us running. They are very knowledgeable in the operations and finances of running a business and taught me everything I know.” Daniela also credits having a solid friend group helped her ideas become a reality.

How did you grow your team?

We hired close family and friends to begin with and then hired more employees to join the family. We established a sense of family and trust from early on. Whether we were related or not, we were all one big family trying to learn how to run this business together. There were a lot of obstacles in the beginning, but that was expected.

As a female business owner, what has been your greatest accomplishment?

The year 2021. She shares she was juggling a full-time job, budding a social media career and was also in the process of buying her first home as she was ALSO starting the development of Selfie WRLD Boston.

How did you preserve through tough times?

My family and friends were always telling me, “it’s only a matter of time before everything is perfect and you’re going to look back to this day and laugh.”

What’s next?

Daniela shares that she wants to focus on her Youtube account,  Daniela Eliza. “Youtube has become a huge part of me and I love making videos.”

What is a piece of advice you can give to readers who are thinking about pursuing their own business?

If you have an idea in mind, do it. Don’t think about it because you’re just going to talk yourself out of it. You just do it. Stay consistent, and it’ll eventually pay off. The road to success isn’t linear so you’re going to run into obstacles. You just must keep pushing.

Do you remember your first transaction?

Yes! We were open for reservations before we were officially open, and we received so many sales. It felt amazing seeing so many people booking tickets so soon.

The power of following your dreams and reaching your own potential has no bounds. It is all about making that first step out of your comfort zone.

model: Ashley Gelin, instagram: @ashmarieee_

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Effective Communication

Hello W.A comrades,

Like many Americans, I grew up in a foreign household where English was NOT my first language. Communication to others outside of my family and friends was a bit blurred. I knew I loved to talk because every time we had guests over I would go hangout with the adults and just talk all night long. Clearly, I wanted to be heard whether the content is interesting to my audience or not.

As I started learning English in Preschool, Kindergarten, and so on I now became a dangerous talker… now I know how to speak in 2 languages.  May God help everyone in my path at that point. Eventually as I got older and “wiser,” I started to learn/realize that talking does not mean communicating. You may talk for hours and hours on end, but if your intended audience does not understand what you’re saying or are engaged, you have lost them. Which can lead to lack of communication. Since communication seems to be a key component of human interaction, I decided to take note and see how I can improve my communication skills to avoid such calamity.

Here are some tips I discovered that helped me communicate and I hope it can help you to:

  • Active listening: Talk less listen more. Truly try to hear what the other person is trying to say. Try your best to not be distracted with your thoughts of what you are going to say next. I know I was always guilty of thinking of what I am going to say next that I missed half of what the other person was trying to tell me.
  • Reiterate: Sometimes it helps to reiterate what you think you heard them say to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding. 9 times out 10 they would correct you if you misheard or misunderstood.

  • Be proactive and considerate: Having the conversation is one thing but following up and following through are also very important. If you have a conversation that ends with some sort of delivery or expectation to someone it’s important to stay proactive to deliver and to stay in communication about it. For example, if it’s taking a bit longer than expected to deliver, it’s good to communicate that things are getting delayed, you have not forgotten, and you will try your best to follow-through as soon as possible. A timeline usually helps, but if it’s not feasible and open ended it’s good to touch base. I am not saying communicate every hour or everyday with constant updates (even though I have done that before..oops), but every couple of days does not hurt. Trust me people appreciate you circling back, knowing you haven’t forgotten them, and you value them. 

  • Avoid bulldozing: When someone is speaking try your best to avoid cutting them off and start talking about what you wanted to say. It’s rude to your audience and you might end up annoying the other person, which can lead into an unnecessary argument. Sometimes you end up missing an important part of what they are trying to say, because you interrupted).

  • Be empathetic: If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say it at all. As fun as it is to throw that saying around, it holds some truth. When you try to wrap your head around what the person is saying and see it from their point of view you are practicing empathy. As the saying goes, “you attract more flies with honey than with vinegar”. Honey being the sweet and empathetic vs. the vinegar being sour and mean. Choose your words wisely.

Sincerely,

Nora Hamdeh

Scrum Master, Fidelity Charitable

 

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A 2022 Guide to Self-Care

“New Year, New Me” as they say. Although, I believe every day is a chance to try again.

by Urvi Patel, PA-C on January 03, 2022

Managing your mental health while trying to balance work life, school life, social life, personal life, and even family life is not easy. Do you feel burned out? Do you feel stressed? Do you feel anxious? Do you feel depressed? Here are some tips to better take care of yourself while working through the ebbs and flows of life. Remember, you come first. You cannot pour from an empty cup. Fill yourself with self-care and love before tending to others.

1) Eat right

Serotonin is a chemical in our brain that affects our mood, feelings of well-being, regulating hunger, and improving positive sleeping patterns. When there’s a lack of serotonin, we experience depression, stress, irritability, and even panic attacks. Did you know we even have Serotonin in our digestive system? It helps to push food through faster to reduce the time food stays in our digestive tract and the amount of irritation caused to our intestinal lining. Here are some foods that can help produce serotonin in our body:

  • Salmon: Rich in Tryptophan (produces serotonin). Also contains Vitamin D which is important in serotonin production.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Important food group that is rich in Tryptophan for our vegetarians!
  • Turkey and Poultry
  • Tofu and Soy
  • Milk and Cheese
  • Pineapple

2) Natural vitamins to fight depression

Clinical depression is more than just a feeling of sadness. Other symptoms include: feeling a sense of emptiness, changes in appetite, feelings of worthlessness, anxiety, restlessness, changes in sleep pattern, anger/irritability, difficulty concentrating, and thoughts of suicide or death. If you or a loved one are experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to reach out to a professional. But have you ever wondered, “What are some other things I can do along with getting professional help?”. Let’s talk about the importance of vitamins! Consult with a healthcare professional before taking these supplements.

  • B-12: If someone has low levels of B-12, they are likely to experience symptoms of depression such as fatigue and lack of motivation. It’s important to reach out to a health care professional to check your Vitamin B-12 levels and take supplements if necessary. Some foods that are high in B-12 include: fish, lean meats, eggs, poultry and milk.
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids are essential for the function and health of the brain. These can be taken as a supplement or in foods such as salmon, seeds, and nuts.
  • Magnesium: If your body is low in magnesium, you may experience worsening depression symptoms and insomnia.
  • Vitamin C: Known to both improve mood and cognitive functioning.
  • Vitamin D: Living in New England, it’s important to take Vitamin D supplements especially in the winter months.

3) Natural vitamins to fight anxiety

Unlike everyday stress, clinical anxiety is defined by excessive feelings of worry or persistent, even intrusive thoughts about certain fears or constant fears in general. Clinical anxiety may even be accompanied by anxiety attacks. If you or a loved one are having symptoms of anxiety, please reach out to a medical professional. Here are some natural tea remedies to help ease anxiety in addition to. Consult with a healthcare professional before taking these supplements.

  • Passionflower: Some small studies say this herb may help with anxiety, but not enough evidence.
  • Valerian Root: Available as tea and tablets. May cause headaches, dizziness, drowsiness.
  • Chamomile
  • Lavender
  • Lemon Balm

4) Exercise

The big “I know I should, but I feel so lazy”. Did you know a regular exercise routine has been shown to decrease depressive symptoms? There are multiple studies shown to prove this theory. How does exercise improve our mood?

  • Increases levels of “feel-good chemicals” such as serotonin, dopamine, endorphins
  • Improves function of immune system
  • Raises core body temperature which provides a calming effect
  • Provides an opportunity to take a break and work on yourself
  • Improves energy level
  • Improves self-esteem
  • Can help with insomnia

5) Spend some time with nature

In a world where COVID is ramping and working from home is becoming more common, it’s important to spend some time getting natural air. We were not made to be confined to one space.

  • Spending time with nature improves our emotional well-being. There’s a practice in Japanese culture called “Shinrin-yoku” which hypothesizes that mindful time spent in the forest can reduce anxiety and feelings of depression.
  • Focusing on all of your senses in nature can provide a way to feel connected to something bigger than yourself. Focus on all the beauty around you
  • There are physical benefits to nature such as the reduction of stress levels can reduce one’s heart rate and even decrease risk of stroke. Being in nature also promotes healthy levels of natural Vitamin D.

6) Meditation

Stress is something that consumes all of us. From the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed. We are all stressed about something. We are all worried about something. This constant state of worry and stress keeps our body in “fight or flight” mode. Meditation is a way to decrease the tension that is built up in our body. There are multiple iPhone apps that may help you in your journey to meditation. HealthLine suggests: Insight Timer, Headspace, Mylife, Calm, Oak, Simple Habit, and others.

  • Stay consistent with your meditation routine
  • Start with 5-10 minutes a day
  • Pick a time you will not be interrupted

7) Practice gratitude

Scientific research shows that gratitude affects the brain’s reward system.

  • Every night for a week, write down three things you are thankful for.
  • Make a gratitude jar. Every day for the next year, write down something you are grateful for and put it in the jar. Read it when times are hard.
  • Purchase a “gratitude workbook/journal”

8) Read books that help shift your mindset

Here are some books I believe will help shift your mindset.

  • 101 Essays that will change the way you think – Brianna West
  • Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel S. F. Heller
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • Search Inside of Yourself by Chade-Meng Tan
  • Rewire Your Brain by Jacob King
  • The Mountain is You by Brianna West
  • Winning the War in your Mind by Craig Groeschel

9) Self-Love

  • Treat yourself: Get your nails done, get your hair done
  • Call out of work and take that mental health day
  • Take a day to do absolutely nothing
  • Say no to those plans
  • Take time off social media
  • Mute/unfollow that account
  • Have that difficult conversation you’ve been avoiding
  • Repeat those positive affirmations
  • Do that thing you’ve been scared to do
  • Tell your friends how you’re really feeling

10) Therapy

I am not ashamed to admit that as a woman in the mental health field, I am also in therapy. I have been able to recognize my triggers and act accordingly. I am no longer who I once was. I am learning something about myself every day. I am learning to love myself a little more on the dark days. Therapy is more than just talking about your emotions/feelings. It’s learning to rewire your brain and an opportunity to rewrite your story. The girl who rose.

  • Check out Psychologytoday.com
  • Filter through based on insurances, gender, race, sexual preferences.
  • An insider tip: When you choose a therapist you’re interested in, give them a phone call rather than emailing them. Emails get lost in the inbox.

11) Medication Management

Sometimes, we can do all of the above and still experience persisting anxiety and depression symptoms that start to become debilitating. This is a reminder that it’s okay to seek professional help and learn more about prescription medication options. To discuss these options, reach out to a psychiatrist. There’s lots of stigma around medications in this day and age, but it’s important to remember that you come first. Depression and anxiety are caused by a chemical imbalance in our brain and there are medications that can help boost the serotonin a lot more rapidly than we ourselves can. Getting help doesn’t make you weak. In fact, you are brave and strong for taking that first step. I’m proud of you.

Sincerely,

Your local physician assistant, Urvi Patel

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Why Do We Volunteer?

Have you ever wondered-what makes people want to volunteer? We all live busy lives, so what really makes us want to take time out, or rather make time, for a higher purpose?

1. Paying it Forward

In a world where it can be hard to find time for kindness, volunteering can help you do good by paying it forward. Doing good not only makes you feel good, but also helps kindness spread to others. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

2. Resume Building

Hiring Managers look for people with well-rounded personalities. While your impressive work experience will hold you in good stead, having volunteer positions listed on your resume and LinkedIn profiles give you a leg up and shows potential employees that you go above and beyond to give back to the community. Volunteering for organizations such as Women Accelerators helps showcase your soft skills as well. 

3. Building Soft Skills

Volunteering gives people a boost in soft skills such as leadership and confidence. Helping others, helps build your self-assurance and teaches you abilities that you can add to your skillset.

4. Opportunity To Try Something New

Volunteering gives you a chance to try something outside of your area of expertise or comfort. For example, we have volunteers who are Engineers and Scientists by trade, write blog articles and help raise funds for Women Accelerators!

5. Networking

Networking can often be seen as an intimidating experience but volunteering is a great way to meet new people, make new connections and build trust in each other’s abilities. Additionally, it also offers the potential for career advancement or changes.

At Women Accelerators, we have fun events, like Happy Hours where current and new volunteers can network and maybe even make new friends! We also offer educational programs that help women grow their careers using their experience equity.


What are our former team members saying about Volunteering?

Personally as I have navigated my time as President of WA, I have learned skills at a young age that I would never have had the chance to do in other organizations. Women Accelerators volunteers are hands on, creative, and in this together. As a volunteer there’s room for personal development as you work with the team. I encourage everyone to attend events and consider volunteering. I promise, you will not regret it.

Gianna Iantosca


“It’s one of the best volunteering experience I have ever had. Through preparing and hosting regular seminars and workshops as well as running an annual mentorship program, I knew I was making a difference in the lives of many that are underrepresented, especially women and people of color.”

Huan Rui


“I was trusted with my work of managing events; be it placing catering orders or making the agenda for the events. My new ideas were welcomed and implemented. It was good to see my designs printed and shared with attendees. I networked at many events and also made amazing friends through this inspiring group, and we continue to stay in touch.”

Nidhi Maniar


“When I was a volunteer, I was able to meet several women in the workforce that I would otherwise not be able to engage with as much in a university setting. Women Accelerators’ approach towards helping women in their careers is multi-dimensional— from seminars, networking opportunities, to mentoring. What makes this organization even more powerful is that everyone in the team is very dedicated towards achieving our mission”

Herdeline Ardoña


Ready to Volunteer?


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#ChooseToChallenge

International Women’s day is March 8th, 2021, on this day we remember what our ancestors and women that have come before us have done for us; to be who we are today. This year we have decided to choose to challenge, not just individuals’ political views, or our stance on health care or equal pay but ourselves.

 “A challenged word is an alert word. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day. We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.” 

So with this in mind, I challenge you to take the pledge to choose to challenge something, anything. 

Today I choose to challenge gender bias in the fitness industry, in health care. Women can be just as strong, just as powerful, and just as hardworking as their counterparts. 

But how does one do this? Take a stand in what you believe in, follow individuals that have the same ideas and beliefs as you do. Sign petitions, stand up in public meetings, and make your voice heard. Because if you don’t stand up then who will. 

If you’re still not sure where to start, use the link and educate yourself. Knowledge is power, and that is how things change. 

Resources on how to get started 

Happy International Women’s Day, now go change the world! 

#ChoosetoChallenge 

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Reflections on the Leadership Mentoring Session

The Mentoring Program at Women Accelerators features monthly group learning sessions in addition to pairing mentors with mentees for one on one personalized professional development. 

The session this month focused on LEADERSHIP. This panel style discussion featured three of our mentors who have much experience on this topic: Szifta Birke, Robin Rose, and Deirdre Pierotti. You can learn more about these women on our mentoring page

Robin highlighted the opportunities that can come from volunteering at your company. A general event or fundraising planning committee can allow you to meet members across your organization that you wouldn’t normally interact with on a day to day basis. The more exposure you have to different functions and their operations, the more valuable you are. It could get you considered for new development projects that you didn’t even know about. Think of this as a way to network in your own company! I’m kicking myself because I worked at a large company for 2 years that had so many different employee engagement groups that I never joined. Truly a missed opportunity. Now working at smaller companies that don’t have those options, I realized- why not start my own group

Leadership is all about continuous learning– Szifta has a lifetime of experience and yet has enrolled in a class that is teaching Crucial Conversations from a different lens. This really resonated with me. If you aren’t constantly reading articles about leadership, reading professional development books, or listening to podcasts on the topic, then what you’ve learned in the past fades. Leadership is a muscle and you need to work on keeping it in shape. For anyone who hasn’t read Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When the Stakes are High by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler, I HIGHLY recommend it. The first time I read it was 4 years ago. With 4 more years of industry experience and taking on more responsibility, I think it’s time I reread it with a new perspective!

Another key point that Deirdre stressed was knowing your value (also a book). I think this is especially important for women in the workforce. How often do we hear about male coworkers making significantly more in the same role? Being able to recognize how much you offer your company and asking for your value is a very different aspect of leadership. It’s speaking up for yourself, which is always the hardest. Circling back to the previous point, Crucial Conversations, has personally helped me navigate those conversations! This topic has come up a lot recently with my girlfriends. Two of my close friends, and myself, have quit our jobs for better opportunities. Making change is difficult, but when you know you’re overworked and undervalued, it’s time to make a change. Talk about this with your friends- too often we say everything is fine and portray the #bossbabe lifestyle on social media. We need to normalize talking about career dips, changes, and not being happy in our current role. Knowing your value and demanding it is easier with a support system.

This was a great session with valuable insight from women who have decades of experience. I can’t wait for next month’s session! The program runs January to June, with the application process beginning each fall. If you have FOMO reading this, join us next year! In the meantime, we’ll keep our resources page up to date for you. 

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Start 2021 on the Right Foot and put your Goals into Action

It is safe to say that 2020 was not what any of us expected. Many of us have overcome great things this year, but before 2020 leaves us, it is time to plan our success and what we will achieve in 2021!

The best way to get where you are going is to actively plan the way…. Failure to set goals may result in not achieving things that are most important to you. Goal setting can include personal and professional goals to help provide you with focus and direction. Creating goals you are passionate about and working towards goal achievement provides you with things to look forward to each day when you wake up and start working.

As you start thinking about your goals, it is necessary to take a step back and figure out why something is important to you, why might this goal motivate you?  If you can’t articulate why a goal is important, then you are not likely to achieve your goals.  It is important that you know what you want and if the work needed to achieve the goal is worth your commitment.

“By recording your dreams and goals on paper, you set in motion the process of becoming the person you most want to be.  Put your future in good hands – your own.” 

Mark Victor Hansen

When setting goals, work to make short and long term goals that are reasonable, measurable, and time specific.  Make sure to write these goals down and keep them visible be it in your planner or computer screen to allow you to reflect and track your progress through the year.  You may want to allow for 15-20 minutes each week on Sunday evening to evaluate your success and any adaptations that are needed.  Reflecting on the past week can display your achievements and work done to help you visualize success is achievable.

After setting your goals make sure that you put your well thought plan into action.  Setting goals is the easy part, action becomes the hardest part.  Trust in yourself and put in the work necessary to achieve goal success.

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off the goal.” 

Henry Ford

Time is your most important asset, be cautious what you say yes to and make sure that your time aligns with your goals!  Stay focused on what matters and persist on until you achieve your goals.

Make 2021 a great year!

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Fall Recipes

Women Accelerators is giving thanks and celebrating in different ways this year. Our extended family may not all be under one roof for the holidays, but we can still cook together and break bread virtually.

Click here to see some of our favorite fall recipes and share them with your loved ones! Remember: although we’re distant, technology allows us to reach out and fill our homes with the laughter of friends and family from afar.

Have a wonderful holiday season!

Download Fall Recipes

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Here’s What You Need to Know About Environmental Justice

You may have started hearing the terms ‘environmental racism’ and ‘environmental justice’ more often recently. Maybe you’re hearing them for the first time. The concept of discrimination perpetrated through placing minority and low-income communities at greater environmental risk is what Kamala Harris was talking about in her speech at the DNC. It’s something that health scientists are talking about. It’s part of what Ed Markey wants to combat with his Green New Deal. While COVID-19 has triggered a larger and more imminent conversation about environmental justice, it is not a new concept. Here’s what you need to know to begin learning about environmental justice.

1. The EJ Movement been around for decades, and they’ve done the research

While the awakening to environmental contamination started decades before, the grassroots movement concerned with environmental justice and activism began in earnest in the 1980s. Over the years, local victims have joined the movement as they began to experience the impacts in their own neighborhoods.

In 1984, the California Waste Management Board contracted Cerrell Associates to write a report identifying the “characteristics of communities least likely to resist the siting of waste incineration facilities”. Communities found to be “affluent” and “wealthy” were taken out of the consideration for these sites. Communities described by words like “depressed”, “distressed” and “minority-owned” were favorable. They concluded that communities made up of college-educated, middle- and upper-class professionals would have more wherewithal, political power, and ability to organize against the pollution of their homes, while low income, less educated, rural communities would not.

Over the years we’ve seen how this targeting of certain communities has led to increased hazardous waste, air, and water pollution in those areas. The Farmworkers Union in the San Joaquin Valley of California has spent decades fighting pesticide contamination of the fields in which they work as well as the areas in which they live. An article published in 1992 stated that “about 10% of total pesticide use in the USA is in the San Joaquin Valley”, and it is still an issue today.

This research article shows that, in the US, fine particulate matter exposure “is disproportionately caused by consumption of goods and services mainly by the non-Hispanic white majority, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities. On average, non-Hispanic whites experience a “pollution advantage”: They experience ∼17% less air pollution exposure than is caused by their consumption. Blacks and Hispanics on average bear a “pollution burden” of 56% and 63% excess exposure, respectively, relative to the exposure caused by their consumption.”

Children are more susceptible to the health impacts of exposure to air pollution and other toxicants. The Clark County school district in Nevada released data that showed during the 2006-2007 school year, “African American students had the highest rates of asthma by race (13.4%) followed by Hispanic/Latino students (6.6%). Furthermore, asthma is the single leading cause of missed school days in the nation and has been shown to be a significant factor in absenteeism leading to being held back a grade in Clark County Schools.”

The use of surface mining techniques, where companies use millions of pounds of explosives to remove mountaintops in order to excavate the coal underneath, has led to a water crisis in areas like Appalachia and taken a “catastrophic toll on the health of those whose water supply lies in its path”. Residents can’t use their tap water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, or bathing. One man had his water tested and was told it was so toxic that, if he washed his clothes in it, there was a possibility direct sunlight could set his clothes on fire. People are having to drive for more than an hour to stock up on bottled water. This, of course, has environmental and economic domino effects when it comes to the use and price of gas as well as the production of plastic water bottles.

2. Be wary of government groups meant to protect your environment

In 1992, The National Law Journal published its findings from an investigation into government agencies’ roles in environmental injustice. The opening statement reads:

“The federal government, in its cleanup of hazardous sites and its pursuit of polluters, favors white communities over minority communities under environmental laws meant to provide equal protection for all citizens.”

They found that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) favored white communities over minority communities when it came to placing penalties on sites violating environmental laws as well as the clean-up of abandoned hazardous waste sites. Today, we continue to see our government refusing to be part of the global solution to environmental issues and even choosing to roll back protections that have been put in place, putting minority communities in greater danger by doing so.

Unfortunately, we cannot talk about environmental injustice without getting political. Environmental discrimination is made possible by politicians and people in power who sign off on the policies and regulations that lead to these injustices. Our votes are more important than ever.

3. Environmental injustice does not happen in a vacuum

For decades, the dumping of toxic waste, pesticide usage, and exposure to air and water pollution has been more prevalent in low-income communities than affluent ones. These factors cause health issues in people with less access to affordable healthcare, which can lead to being held back from academic advancement thus causing a disproportionate lack of opportunity and professional development. These underlying health issues also make people more susceptible to disease, like the coronavirus.

However, at some point in the not-so-distant future, what is hurting our minority communities will hurt us all. The domino effect that starts with the farmers in San Joaquin Valley and the coal mining towns of Appalachia will end with contaminating every community. There is no way to keep polluted air and water strictly within minority neighborhood boundaries. There are so many circumstances in which we take preventative measures – in times of war, with our health – why would we not do the same for our environment? By the time all of our air and water is affected, it will be too late.

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Women Accelerators receive Women Working Wonders Fund Grant

Women Working Wonders Fund

Lowell, MA – The Women Accelerators was awarded the Women Working Wonders Fund Grant in August 2020 to support their Accelerating Women Leadership Program. The objective of the Women Working Wonders Fund is to support organizations and activities that contribute to leadership development in girls and women. This grant fulfills Women Accelerators’ mission of giving women the tools they need to succeed professionally and to effect meaningful change leading to closing the gender gap.

The Accelerating Women Leadership Program is a comprehensive 6-month boot camp designed to empower women to develop the strategic mindset, leadership skills, and powerful network they need to achieve their personalized leadership goals. The program is built upon eight pillars of leadership: Communication, Strategic Relationships, Visibility, Influence, Strategic Mindset, TimeManagement, Career Goals, and Confidence. These pillars represent fundamental leadership capabilities and address the unique challenges that women face in the workplace. We will also invite diverse female speakers to discuss the topics of diversity in the workplace and salary negotiation as part of the program.

The program was conceived by Kim Meninger, who is a certified Executive and Leadership Coach and the President of the Lowell Chapter of Women Accelerators.  “Previous program participants have reported finding new jobs, earning promotions, speaking up more confidently, and assuming more strategic responsibilities as a result of their engagement in this program,” said Kim Meninger, President of the Lowell Chapter of Women Accelerators. “We could not be more excited to bring the program to Women Accelerators and early-career women in the Merrimack Valley more broadly and we are grateful for the support from the Women Working Wonders Fund.”

The Accelerating Women Leadership Program will be starting in January 2021. It will be free and prioritized to early-stage women in the following geographic areas: Ashby, Ayer, Bedford, Billerica, Burlington, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Concord, Dracut, Dunstable, Groton, Littleton, Lowell, Pepperell, Shirley, Tewksbury, Townsend, Tyngsboro, Westford, Wilmington.

We are grateful to the Women Working Wonders Fund and excited to offer this pilot program in 2021. Registration will begin in October 2020. Sign up here for our program.

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Race Around Us – Stop Ignoring It

I grew up white and privileged without realizing it until June 2020. I lived in a small town and went to a big high school. I went to football games and played sports. If you could look up a typical middle-class white female family of four, mine would probably pop up.

I had two black individuals in my school. Just two, in a sea of 400 students per grade you could see how I grew up thinking that race and color didn’t matter in my eyes, everyone was equal.

I went to a public college in Rhode Island. I had a small awakening to the amount of race and colors I saw. Again, it didn’t bother me if you were Black, White, Hispanic, Latino, etc. As long as you were kind, I had no problem with you.

The first sign of racism I ever saw was when I was with one of my housemates. A black female, we went shopping and were being followed in the store. I couldn’t figure out why, so I asked the sales rep. I told her we didn’t need any help and she just gave this look. Like I was lying to her or something; so we left the store. Again, it had never occurred to me that this was an individual being racist against my best friend and me.

Of course, there have been incidents in the world since that but it never got my attention, I never took the time to learn until George Floyd. If you missed it, or were under a rock somewhere hiding out from being exposed to COVID. Then here’s a brief overview of what happened.

George Floyd a man who was killed by a police officer for no reason. He was strangled by the officer’s knee until he physically could not breathe anymore. This ignited a tumulus movement, Black Lives Matter that spread across the country. A civil rights movement that has been needed for quite some time. It brought out all the wrong full deaths that have occurred to black individuals for generations. The worst of it that no one was paying attention to these deaths until George Floyd went viral.

Since then everyone, well everyone should be taking the time to learn and educate themselves about black history, race and how people of color have been treated. I want to say that we haven’t been aware but the awakening of it all is that we have been sitting by and watching everything happen. When a black man is atomically assumed that he will rob or fight you. When a position is passed on from a black to a white individual is it because they are more qualified or is it because of the color of their skin? Do you automatically think basketball player when you see a black man? You think angry b***h when you see a black female complaining? This my friend is bias and racist.

I have read five books since June especially teaching me about black culture and history and what the heck it was like growing up as a black individual (listed below). Here is what I have learned.

  • If you see a black individual on the streets greet them like any other human being.
  • If a black female was passed up for a position in your workplace and a white female or male got it, bring it to HR’s attention and ask why this happened.
  • Stop thinking just because someone in the news is black means they deserved what happened to them.
  • Stop and remember what Martin Luther King Jr. stood for instead of using the holiday as a day off of work.
  • Sign petitions, donate to Mutual Aid Funds
  • Buy from Black-Owned Business, look up black-owned stores.
  • Stop thinking color doesn’t exist.
  • Go vote

Now, I know this isn’t everything I learned but if you want to learn more then pick up a book, listen to a podcast. This isn’t going to go away, it’s time to start the change today and we need to do this together.

 Books:

  • So you want to talk about Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • White Fragility by Robin Diangelo
  • Me and white supremacy by Layla F. Saad
  • Eloquent Rage by Brittany Cooper
  • Stamped from the Beginning  by Ibram X. Kendi

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The thing that major milestones have taught us

Life is not something we could be taught about. We can be warned, lectured and told about the experiences of our elders that have already gone through. With every day that passes and every new milestone I hit. I find that I carry those lessons and experiences with me to the next big opportunity that presents itself in my life. These are the lessons that change us, lessons that shape us. Lessons that we learn by actually being engaged and living. These are the things that cause us to change, not the people we surround ourselves with.

  1.   Life presents itself as it should, Not according to my schedule 

Wishing for things would happen the way you want typically doesn’t go the way it is planned. No one expected there to be travel bans and businesses to be shut down, but it happened. All those plans that were put into place months ago have now been postponed or canceled. It can be upsetting and frustrating in that moment but think about in the long run. This one moment may be super frustrating right then and there but think about how this can help you adapt to other situations that don’t go your way. 

  1.   Less is More

I don’t know about you but when I see something, I usually go full force and invest all my time into it. By doing this something those other things that are in my life get the short string. I point out that balancing those priorities should be at the top of your list whenever you pick up a new interest. 

  1.   People deserve a second chance

That moment you forgive somebody, chances are that you will also give them a second chance, that chance to be close to you, without trying to remind them of what they did. By doing this you are allowing them to grow and become better and better every day.

  1.   The world won’t change if you don’t change 

You hear people all the time complaining about how crazy the world is now and how they want it to change, but if you tell them to make the first step. They will back away and make excuses on why they can’t. If we want the world to change, we have to start with ourselves. 

  1.   Your education is never complete 

Determine to live fully and continually learn. Prepare for what life has to teach by being open to the lesson in everything you do and experience 

  1.   Never settle for average

Whether you are applying for a new job, a significant other, working on yourself. Never just settle for the easy way out; you will never find your everyday joy if you just go through the motions everyday. So if you’re sitting in an interview and they say they will hire you for ‘X’ amount but you know you are worth ‘Y’ amount then why not ask and show initiative and prove that you are worth that experience and degree you have worked so hard for. 

Think about it now. What challenges or achievements have you brought along with you to your next milestone? What have you learned, make a list of the things you want to change next time and what you want to keep. I guarantee you that it will make a difference in the next time reach that milestone.

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Using Quarantine to Your Advantage

When I was told that I had to come home for quarantine I was thrilled. I was going to use it to my advantage to broaden my horizons and learn new things I’ve been putting off. I wanted to add to my business by learning how to code and increase my skills for school, I wanted to read books that have been sitting on my shelf for months.  

If you’re in the same boat and want to take advantage of this time of being home here’s your kick in the butt to keep motivated and maybe even make a positive mark on a negative situation. 

So why not increase your appeal to a potential job: Get a new certification in your field. A lot of certification can be gained online quickly and can be inexpensive as well. Use this time to become familiar with the companies that your interested in; social media presence. If they don’t have one learn about graphic design apps that are user friendly so you can help build their presence. You can use this opportunity to completely redo your resume. Make it bold and stand out, the top 1/3 of the documents should grab your attention. Use key words that have been used in the job description you are applying for.  If you don’t feel comfortable working on it on your own you can hire someone to look over your resume for you. You can use zoom or team meeting for a face to face meeting. 

 

Take on a new language: Since most of us are connected to your phones just about 24/7 what better way to use them, than by downloading an app to teach you something new. Such as Babbel or Duolingo, both apps are user friendly and slowly introduce you to learning a new language. 

 

Get creative: Have you also enjoyed art and graphic design but never had time to really learn the ins and outs of it? There are hundreds of tutorials on YouTube for free that can teach you how to use Photoshop and lightroom and edit your designs, even just take a free art class.  If you have a camera, take the time and go outside. Social distancing doesn’t mean you have to stay inside all day.  Were you a painter at one point in your life and put it away because life got a little crazy? Well now is the perfect time to idle those hands again. 

 

Take control of your health: Have you been struggling to stay on track with your goals, do you want to avoid losing all your progress you’ve made in your health in the past few months? Join an online fitness community following a live workout that personal trainers and gyms are hosting on social media. Test out new recipes with items just in your home, replace out habits with new ones. Start by drinking more water each day, small changes like this can make a big difference down the road. 

             

           So now that I’ve shown you the limitless opportunities you have why not take advantage of them. Start showing up for yourself and prove that quarantine isn’t just a period of isolation. 

 

 

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Artist in Quarantine

I lost my job due to Covid-19. It was a fantastic job that I was lucky to have. The job was in my chosen field, I was well qualified for it, I had a lot of responsibility, trust, overcame many challenges, and I loved my boss. At the time of writing this we are faced with the uncertainty of whether the company will be able to reopen once this wave has passed. Despite how much I loved my job, I must admit this job was never my end goal.

I double majored in English and Studio Art in college. Two years in I discovered that my passion was painting. I had been painting since I could walk; my first mural came at age four on the second floor wall of our brand new family home, made using finger paints, spanning the length of the hallway and as far high as I could touch. I was quite proud of my masterpiece. My mother was less pleased. It took until my Senior year of college to hear someone tell me that they believed I could pursue painting as a career. Those words of encouragement came from my painting professor who I held in the highest regard. The most startling part of what he told me was not that he believed I could become great; it was that he expected me to become great. Unfortunately, there is no linear way to be an artist. In most fields people are said to have “paved the way” for others. I often feel that I am bushwhacking my own path.

There is one proven way of becoming a successful artist. Making. As often as possible. There are these programs called artist-in-residence. These programs are designed to take an artist of any medium and provide them a prescribed amount of time away from distractions and their normal life in order to produce their work. Usually these occur out in the forest, on deserted islands, or in foreign cities. Anywhere that will give the artist inspiration and freedom. They are usually expensive and often competitive but every artist I know who has participated in one has raved about their experience, created killer work, and immediately searched for another opportunity.

Given my sudden abundance of free time and nowhere to go this seemed like the perfect moment to create my own artist-in-residence or what I like to call my “artist-in-quarantine”. As things began to shut down, I ordered an abundance of art supplies and got to work. I spend most days now locked in my apartment creating. I usually have a podcast or audiobook playing and I create however I feel like on that day. This was important to me as I did not want to box myself into a specific goal or obtuse expectations. I wanted to see what would come of me making art for my own sake. My work has spanned drastically so far from huge paintings to small paintings, drawings, and even making a coloring book for my niece and yes, okay, I painted a bedroom like everyone else. My apartment is covered in art supplies. There is a painting in progress on almost every flat surface. I have a rolling cart with my tools, and I follow the light and any spark of inspiration around my space like a sundial. I take my dog for walks and I make indulgent desserts. My techniques are developing, and I try to remember to breathe.

This is a stressful and frankly terrifying time for us all. I’m not trying to be heroic or make light of what is going on. I also know that I am not the only artist to be doing this. I am incredibly lucky to have a stable place to live and a loving family who are making sure I don’t starve and occasionally take a painting away from me before I destroy it. I am doing what I need to do to feel sane during a time that is not sane at all. I don’t know the right way and I am not naive enough to think how I am proceeding is the right way for everyone, but it is the right way for me.

You can request custom paintings by Christina Mignosa via emailing [email protected] or by checking out her Instagram @christinamignosaart

 

Painting: “Self-portrait: quarantine” (16×20)

Painting: “Gooseberry Beach” (16×20)

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Investing in developing a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment.

As an organization, Women Accelerators aims to help advance women and promote gender equity though creating a centralized network and community where women can access resources to help achieve their career goals.

Women Accelerators welcomed Dr. Alexis Stokes in February to meet their community to discuss issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Dr. Stokes serves as the Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the Harvard School of Engineering where she creates systematic changes to support the success of unrepresented minorities, nontraditional students, and education programs.

Below is a summary of Dr. Stokes presentation with information and tips that can be discussed and utilized in your workplace.

Why are diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations essential?

The world demographics are changing which impacts all environments.  This creates a need to change and innovate the way that organizations have always done things.  Organizations can empower their communities to get involved and create an environment where the culture values diversity, equity, and inclusion.  Inclusive practices benefit everyone within an organization, not just diverse employees.

How can organizations help create diverse, inclusive, and equitable spaces?

It is much more than just hiring an individual for a diversity position.  It is about influencing the organizational culture to move beyond simply working in an inclusive environment to contributing to an inclusive environment.  Understanding the culture (beliefs, customs, acts) of a group helps develop a strategy to invite and encourages individuals into a conversation and create connections to what is valued.  The process should allow individuals in a group to use their privilege and powers to help others.  Organizations need to prioritize this as important work that they do as individuals as well as teams.

It is essential that organizations are clear and transparent with employees as to where they currently stand in the journey to become diverse, inclusive, and equitable environments.  Sharing a process and timeline can be helpful to allow individuals to visualize how getting involved can impact this work.  Being open and honest around data and decisions can allow people to feel more included in work that is going on and to start conversations and help make connections.

For an organization to work on diversity, inclusion, and equity, what resources are necessary?

Organizational culture is a shared responsibility where everyone needs to contribute.  Creating diverse, inclusive, and equitable environment requires ongoing commitment and resources to make the initiative successful.  Necessary resources include: budget, staffing, a communication plan to internal and external groups, connection to those who hold influential positions in the organization, visibility within the organization, access to data and resources, and training that enhances knowledge and action.

What steps should an organization take to create action around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

An organization needs to include these values as part of their mission. All departments and groups should be held responsible for reporting on their progress and success. Creating accountability as individuals, teams, and organizations helps to develop a culture where expectations, commitment, and reporting become the norm.  Additionally, organizations need to share data with people as this knowledge helps to influence actions.

What are some suggestions around how reporting can be done to understand the impact on efforts around diversity, equity, and inclusion?

There are several ways that impact can be evaluated.  They include:

  • Develop initiative into an organizations strategic plan and create a congruent diversity, equity, and inclusion strategic plan that supplements the larger plan.
  • Develop/implement a community standard or code of conduct.
  • Goal setting on measurable activities or tasks.
  • Include in employee evaluations a way for each induvial to share what they have done to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Track progress on initiatives implemented and shared findings with the organization.

What can individuals do to support the creation or further development of diversity, equity, and inclusion through their work?

Individuals have the power to influence and create change in many ways:

  • Provide micro affirmations of positive things you see and experience. These can be very effective and help others create a culture that respects diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Give credit to others when appropriate and try to use “we” more than “I” to create a group culture.
  • Ask others for opinions and feedback, especially if you notice that they have not had an opportunity to speak.
  • Use the preferred pronouns for individuals and work to use inclusive language and images.
  • Make eye contact with those you are working and speaking with to create a connection.
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Greater Lowell Community Foundation Announces Fiscal Sponsorship of Women Accelerators

Lowell, MA – The Greater Lowell Community Foundation announces the recent fiscal sponsorship of Women Accelerators, an organization passionate about promoting the advancement of women and bridging the gender gap. Women Accelerators is based in Massachusetts with chapters in Lowell and Cambridge.

The mission of Women Accelerators is to provide a centralized network where career-focused women can access resources tailored to their career goals. By offering educational programs, networking and mentoring, they help women navigate opportunities that nurture female leaders efficiently. Their vision is to generate a community of like-minded, high-achieving women, who help each other succeed in the workplace.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Greater Lowell Community Foundation as the fiscal sponsor for Women Accelerators. The GLCF has a wealth of experience and the necessary resources to assist us in our mission of helping women with their career advancement. By pairing with GLCF, we gain valuable insights into fundraising and learn the tools for being more efficient in managing a nonprofit. Teaming with GLCF will help us to build a stronger community,” said Susu Wong, co-founder of Women Accelerators.

“We see the foundation’s support of Women Accelerators as an important opportunity to optimize the excellence of this organization that serves women in all stages of their careers,” said Jay Linnehan, GLCF President and CEO. “We are proud to partner on their vision of equity in the workplace.”

For more information and a full event listing, visit: womenaccelerators.org.

Donations to any fund at the Greater Lowell Community Foundation, including the Women Accelerators, can be made online at www.glcfoundation.org/donate or by mail to the Women Accelerators c/o GLCF, 100 Merrimack Street, Suite 202, Lowell, MA 01852.

For more information on the Greater Lowell Community Foundation please visit www.glcfoundation.org.

 

About Greater Lowell Community Foundation

The Greater Lowell Community Foundation is a philanthropic organization comprised of over 350 funds, currently totaling over $39MM, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life in

20 neighboring cities and towns. The Community Foundation annually awards grants and scholarships to hundreds of worthy nonprofits and students. It is powered by the winning combination of donor-directed giving, personal attention from its staff, and an in-depth understanding of local needs. The generosity of our donors has enabled the Community Foundation to award more than $15 million to the Greater Lowell Community since 1999.

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The Women Accelerators 2019 Mentoring Program Wrap-up

Written by Huan Rui, Ph.D., a computational chemist at Amgen. Huan is currently the president at Women Accelerators. She served as the program chair during the 2019 mentoring program. 

No one can deny the benefits of having mentors who lift us up and help us in our careers. There can be times when it feels uncertain who could guide us through difficult situations.

But remember, mentorship does not have to be formal and you can have more than one mentor. One of the informal mentorship models I like is peer mentoring. It happens more often than you think. Think of a time you asked a friend or a coworker about something that you did not know well but they did. Usually, you get the answer you need. You come to them because you think that they are the experts in the topic and this is often well perceived and appreciated. Another way to get mentoring opportunities is to talk to your manager or advisor directly and express to them your needs. Many companies and academic institutes already have a mentoring program in place, but in case yours do not, it is absolutely OK you ask. 

If you are too shy to ask for help from people you know, there are also many mentoring opportunities online or in-person offered by different organizations that can fit your needs. At Women Accelerators, we have been running a mentoring program for seven years. We have an extensive network of mentors and our graduates are in a variety of fields like academia, biotech, law, and management. The program starts in January and ends in June of each year, but the applications start in October the year before. (That is if you want to be part of the 2020 program, the application is coming up.) As a mentee of the program, during each month you meet with your mentor for an hour to discuss the issues you need help with. Some popular topics include effective job search, salary negotiation, self-branding, and so on. Many of our previous year participants have expressed their appreciation of the program:

“My mentoring experience has been great so far! I feel so lucky for being matched with my mentor. She has introduced countless helpful resources in career building and was so supportive when I told her (halfway through the program) that I have decided to make a career change. I think we have made a relationship that will continue on far after the mentoring program has ended.”  – Candace Anderson, 2019 program mentee

A lot of efforts have been put in by our passionate volunteers to improve the program each year. For example, in the past year, we implemented a matching algorithm based on the common interests of the mentors and mentees. It follows the work done by the 2012 Nobel Laureates in Economics, Dr. Alvin Roth on market design and game theory (Roth and Peranson, 1999). It works by matching the parties by their preferential rankings of each other, therefore maximizing the overall commonality between the mentors and mentees. We have also started a Slack channel for the mentees to communicate with each other and share what they have learned. We will keep on testing new ideas and make the mentoring program experience better. 

Roth, Alvin, E., and Elliott Peranson. 1999. “The Redesign of the Matching Market for American Physicians: Some Engineering Aspects of Economic Design.” American Economic Review, 89 (4): 748-780

Check out a Mentee’s Perspective of the 2018 Mentoring Wrap up

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My personal journey of mentoring

Written by Huan Rui, Ph.D., a computational chemist at Amgen. Huan is currently the president at Women Accelerators. She served as the program chair during the 2019 mentoring program.

After more than twenty years in school, I finally landed a job that I like and pays well. I moved to Boston with loads of ambition and an open mind. When Susu Wong, the cofounder of Women Accelerators approached me at a networking event and told me about her non-profit that helps women succeed in their careers, I instantly took a liking of her and her organization. I decided to volunteer. Once I found out that Women Accelerators has an annual mentoring program, with my academic background and my enthusiasm in helping others, I became the program chair for 2019. 

Coming from an engineering background, I understand how hard it is to not have a mentor to guide you through difficult times. I studied bioinformatics in college. It is one of those majors that have a severe skewed male to female ratio. On top of that, the school I went to was an engineering school and that did not help restore the ratio balance. Almost all my teachers and peers were men. It was very difficult to relate to them. But still, I finished my degree with a reasonably good GPA and moved to the US in pursuit of a Ph.D. in computational biology. Again, I had the same problem finding a role model. This is also the time I realized that I am not only woman, I am a queer woman. At the time, marriage equality was only in a few states and many members of the LGBTQ community in academia were not publicly. I could not find a single faculty member in my department or any related departments that is both woman and gay. I was lucky that I found a community of folks who support LGBTQ rights in the small college town. We became friends; we supported each other. We organized “Food Not Bomb” events feeding the homeless and the poor. We went to underground art shows and concerts. We participated in marches demanding women’s rights. It was through these events that I learned how to organize and lead. These people are my friends and also my mentors. We helped each other grow.

Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels

Often times we may find ourselves in situations where we are the only ones and there is no place we can turn for answers. When this happens, do not be afraid. Instead, we should give ourselves a pat on the back, because this means that we are on a road that no one else has traveled before and we are truly the pioneers. There is a Chinese saying, “to be the first one eating the crabs”. Imagine if you have not seen a crab before, would you be willing to eat it? Only after you taste it that you discover its deliciousness. The moral of the story is that being brave and having an open mind can lead to pleasant discoveries. Be brave when you are on your own. 

Continue to read Huan’s next blog on Women Accelerator’s Mentoring Program. 

 

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5 Simple Self Care Tips for Fall

With a summer that surely expired quicker than we all would like, it’s almost time for the weather to change again. Fall in Boston has so many redeeming qualities: colorful leaves, cozy sweaters, apple picking (see: apple donuts) and your favorite warm drink.

Unfortunately, this time of year can also bring extra anxiety and sometimes an overwhelming increase in items on the ‘to-do’ list. As we plan for the upcoming start of classes, new jobs, and whatever else may be on the horizon, it is important to remember that it’s not all about the hustle. Slowing down and taking time for YOU is vital for well-being and long-term productivity.

When you are happy and managing stress, you are performing better overall – so, to help our followers stay at the top of their game we compiled these 5 tips for self care. 

  1. Take time for soul-searching before taking action

Something often overlooked in self care is the importance of individual consideration. No number of spa days will cure the overwhelming stress of working in a role that is a major mismatch; or, working within culture that mismatches with your own personal beliefs. 

Taking some time to clear your head, identify a root cause or a personal need can be the best gift to yourself. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed at work or in personal matters and aren’t able to quash the stress or anxiety, take time to soul search. If there is something or someone in your life causing you pain, and you are able to distance yourself, then that may be the best self care possible. Similarly, if you used to love to paint (or name a hobby) but haven’t had time for it lately, maybe it’s time to pick up that brush and see if it is the escape you needed.

Our leadership team is composed of a diverse group of women and we all have different self-care rituals. You must find what works for you. 

Have trouble slowing your mind down long enough to think? Sometimes the best way to think is to pause long enough to catch your breath & be present – Try one of these guided meditation apps to find your zen:

Headspace

Calm

Insight Timer

Ensō 

& for the skeptic who is not sure that they want to meditation, read this

 

  1. Hit the weights

Getting into an exercise routine can be the hardest part with a busy schedule but blocking time on your calendar and following through is worth it! There is no prescribed time for the positive results of exercise so just get your blood pumping even if that means taking 10-15 minutes each morning to do push ups and sit ups before your morning routine. 

Research shows that exercise can relieve stress, reduce depression and improve cognitive function. But don’t just take our word for it:

Harvard Health on exercising to relax.

American Psychological Association on the stress and exercise link.

American Heart Association on working out to relieve stress.

 

  1. Indulge in a spa day

A spa day doesn’t mean you need to take an entire day off (unless you can – then treat yourself). Instead, choose a service that makes you happy and relax. Taking an hour to get your nails done or get a massage could be “your” meditation.  Changing up your hair or nails can be a boost of confidence. A spa day isn’t going to fully change your self perception BUT it gives you a chance to step back and refresh your look (& hopefully outlook on life).

Having a positive self image can impact your daily life and part of that is how you feel in your skin. Think through these positive thinking strategies as you pick out your new fall nail color (helpful for perfectionists like me!). 

  1. Take a walk

If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or stressed out and aren’t able to take time off (yet) –  sometimes the best thing to do is take a walk. Even taking a walk around the office or around the building outside can do wonders for clearing your head or helping you cool down from a tense situation in the classroom or boardroom. Walking removes you from the stressors and the stressful environment and can give you much needed fresh perspective. 

For even more value on your walk – take a friend. Use the walk to vent or get feedback on an issue you are facing. Or use the time to connect with someone you may not normally talk to and make a new friend in the process. 

 

  1. READ

If time off of work for travel & relaxation is out of the question, take your mind on vacation. One of the easiest ways to escape is to dive into a good book and feel immersed in its pages.

If you have a long commute (shout out to the MBTA), you can take 10-15 minutes to step away from your stressors and imagine a different world or learn something new. Once you reach your destination, you will at least have a fresh perspective on your environment and maybe even a few ideas to tackle the day’s challenges!

 Check out these 24 reads under 200 pages (both fiction and non-fiction).

 

“Self-care is how you take your power back.”

– Lalah Delia

 

Finally, remember that we are in this together. Empower, Engage and Elevate!

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