Having purpose transforms us. Sometimes even with the best of intent, our purpose and our own behavior can get out of sync. However, when we see leading from the heart and harnessing the power to empower others, it deserves to be celebrated. My friend Lori Heffelfinger, Board Member of EmpowHer Institute introduced me to this amazing organization with an inspiring mission to mentor low-income, girls of color in our most disadvantaged neighborhoods in order to build their confidence for college and career on their terms. I talked with Joslyn Osborn, their Board Chair and Mentor for this dynamic Los Angeles based non-profit to learn more about her journey and theirs.
Sherry: It looks like working in purpose driven organizations matters to you – tell me a little about why?
Joslyn: Early in my career, I worked with an organization that attempted to be mission driven, but they didn’t quite live up to what seemed to be their core beliefs. Ten years ago, I was attracted to Vaco, now a global 40 offices, 1,200+ employee talent and solutions company with a CEO that is known to say, “Let’s listen to understand and listen from our heart.” Our core tenets are not just signs on a wall. Our company is true to who we are; assume positive intent, work hard and stay free, be respectful and give back to our community. Even in our performance reviews, we are evaluated on serving our community as well as our performance.
Sherry: When did you join EmpowHer?
Joslyn: That was five years ago and my first role was as a mentor to young girls. I truly enjoy this experience. I learned of them after attending a fundraiser event and heard one of our students tell her story. It was game changing for me in that I wanted to be involved to give back in this meaningful way. 85% of our girls are LatinX and are facing challenges in such significant areas of their life – from economic hardship to managing family during COVID, to limited access to resources.
Sherry: How has the focus on racial justice influenced your programs?
Joslyn: The current tensions in the country have shined a light on the work we were already doing. We see this current conversation serving as a moment to step into this work with more passion. Our curriculum has adapted and we layered in a “social justice and cultural diversity module” to give the girls a language and tools to understand and engage at a deeper level. EmpowHer teachers in our identified schools teach the embedded programs as an elective.
Sherry: As Board Chair – what excites you most about the future for these girls?
Joslyn: We can see that as a result of our focus on positive youth development and individual mentoring, girls are more confident, ready to face high school and see college as a real possibility. They learn communication skills, discuss conflict resolution and ultimately have a sense of agency. They also support each other in this new found sisterhood.
Sherry: What are the Pathmaker Icon Awards?
Joslyn: Our annual Gala theme is “Soul of a Woman” and we are honoring amazing women leaders. We plan to present the PATHMAKER ICON Award to Monique W. Morris, ED.D, Award – Winning Author, Social Justice Scholar, Executive Director, Grantmakers for Girls of Color. As well as to Dawnn Lewis, Award Winning Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Producer. We just confirmed Grammy nominated singer, songwriter Ledisi as an honoree and entertainment. It will be an inspirational event with a student panel, conversation with our honorees and musical entertainment. Suzanne Marques, News Anchor of KCBS will serve as the Emcee of the program. Betty LaMarr, our CEO and founder will share her legacy of the organization and introduce our ICON awards.
Sherry: How might we get involved to support this work?
Join us virtually Thursday, October 8, 2020, 4:00 PM - 5:30PM to celebrate this amazing Soul of a Woman. REGISTER TODAY: https://empowhervirtual.eventbrite.com or consider donating to such an important cause. https://empowher.org/donate/
You can also learn more about the organization watch this video: https://youtu.be/uuAMW_Gzt7E
Do not miss this incredible opportunity to join for the Virtual Celebration and Gala.
Thank you Joslyn for leading the Board and sharing your passion – we can all make a difference!
Sherry Benjamins Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, Senior Vice President, Senior Director, Founder, Strategist, Board Member, and Guide are a few of the titles I’ve held in the last few years. I focus my energies in creating and facilitating learning groups for early career professionals. We are committed to developing tomorrow's leaders today. Sherry@sbcompany.net