Betty LaMarr: a Visionary and Inspiring Leader
Updated: Mar 28, 2020
We have moments in our life that define us. There will be many of those moments for us as we continue to experience this global pandemic. It will certainly awaken our purpose as well as an urgency to re-align our values. I recently met Betty LaMarr, founder, CEO and passionate leader of an organization committed to empowering young girls and women. I asked her about her own defining moments and purpose as she prepares to bring on a new Executive Director and support this leader in their transition. I know you will find this inspiring as it will spark your curiosity to know more about Betty, her team and EMPOWHER INSTITUTE.
Sherry: Tell me about your journey to create EMPOWHER INSTITUTE?
Betty: This journey started before I was aware that EmpowHer would be the outcome. As I look back, I realize that EMPOWHER is a reflection of my life’s story. There were several seminal moments: being pregnant at my high school graduation, overcoming that pitfall and becoming the first in my family of eight to graduate college and work in corporate America. That led me to assume responsibility to give back to my community; I saw so many people who shared my beginnings. Early on I recognized that your circumstances do not define your destiny.
Corporate life provided a foundation for me and in my 40s; I chose to pursue an unlikely, but personally important spiritual path. I wanted to contribute to a social cause bigger than myself. This was a time of free elections and optimism in South Africa and I had an opportunity to go there and lead a new company and develop future leaders. I learned in the four years I was there that I “got” more than I “gave.” Although there were none of the safety nets that we have here in the US, the people there were no less optimistic about their future with a spirit that we are in this together. I brought this nugget back to the states and I took what I had learned and started to help girls realize their strengths and skills – it was the beginning of my vision for what it could mean to empower.
Sherry: When reflecting on those years and your path, what are you most proud of?
Betty: I am most proud of having created a synergistic relationship for girls and women to benefit from each others’ experiences. I am proud to have created an environment that has developed a corps of over 100 mentors who today, are helping 400 teen girls create a Big Dream for their future. We live the idea that, “If they can see it, they can be it.”
I am proud of building a non-profit with other passionate volunteers, board members and mentors. They’ve helped me realize that I can’t do it alone.
Sherry: What have you learned about yourself?
Betty: I love empowering others to pursue their dreams by sharing my knowledge and resources. Early on in my life I ran from being dependent, and now as women are still subjects of abuse, we can help them trust their own capabilities and become independent. I want them to not just dream but make the dream come true!
Sherry: As you bring on a new leader to take EMPOWHER to the next level, how do you see this new chapter of the organization?
Betty: This is an opportunity to scale and provide the tools for teen girls to build the agency they will need to become the next generation of leaders, teachers, advocates and Moms. This will mean that a new leader will build public/private partnerships to fund programs that address the mental and emotional needs for teen girls to overcome traumatic situations and thrive in school, career and life.
This will require a leader with dedication and commitment to being part of the transformation we know our minority girls deserve. This leader will create the next chapter of an organization that becomes part of the life and legacy of females in underserved communities.
To learn more about EMPOWHER INSTITUTE and the newly defined role of Executive Director – check out our website at: EMPOWHER.org/careers or reach out to us at info@EMPOWHER.org. You can also view the job description here.