2020 has been a challenging year for non-profits, but we’re proud that the Foundation has been able to persevere, grow, and adapt so effectively. As we enter 2021, the team took some time to reflect on the year we’ve had and set some intentions for the future. In this special episode of the Torch Talk Podcast, Melahni Ake hosts a panel discussion with CEO Deb Hallberg, VP Samantha Burke, and Melissa Perry, the Community Relations Manager.
Read on for some highlights from the panel conversation.
Challenges often bring innovation. For the Foundation, this has been true throughout 2020. As Deb describes, “We have learned a lot through having to pivot and be creative and nimble. And the passion has remained. This team is so passionate and that helps us get through hard times.”
This year, the Foundation shifted all of its events and programming online. In many ways, this change allowed the reach of mentorship to extend even further and impact even more women. This was especially true for Project Grow. Throughout the panel, Samantha emphasized her pride in Project Grow and its impact. “I remember when we first started Project Grow, we graduated 15 students,” she said. “Then 45, 91, and now 250. It just continues to grow and expand. For us, that momentum never stopped in 2020. We continued to grow and adapt.”
The Foundation also adapted throughout 2020 to meet the needs of the women in our community. By launching an Emergency Fund, we were able to support women who needed extra help during the hard times brought on by the pandemic.
One of the Foundation’s goals for 2021, is to continue expanding our mentor base. It’s important to work towards a more diverse mentor base so that our mentors reflect the communities we serve. In 2021, the Foundation will prioritize continued outreach to inspire more women to become mentors.
Samantha pointed out that, as women, it can be hard to picture yourself as a mentor. Everyone experiences imposter syndrome, and feeling like they don’t have enough expertise to share. But you do! Every woman has her own story and unique experience that others can learn from. A lot of times, mentoring is about offering support and saying “you’re not alone.” Often, that’s what’s needed most: Sharing confidence, sharing knowledge, and sharing your experience.
The Foundation also plans to continue growing and reaching more women than ever in 2021. Having a virtual model works, and the technology brings people together. In order for us to scale, we can continue many of these virtual programs and reach more people. CEO Deb Hallberg said that she feels optimistic that 2021 will be a bright year.
“I can’t say that we’ve slowed down, because I don’t feel that we have,” she said. We’ve just learned to work differently and make the best of what we have. What we bring to the table is necessary for so many women. If we weren’t there, who would be there?”
If you are considering being a mentor or donating to the Foundation, this is your opportunity to continue lifting, celebrating, and inspiring other women. Leave your legacy! This is the group that can help you connect to your purpose.