The Forum of Executive Women aims to grow female leadership in the Philadelphia region. Girls on the Run is an after-school nonprofit program that fosters leadership skills in elementary and middle school girls. The two forming a partnership is a no-brainer.
Every two years, the Forum selects a new “Forum Ally” for their 450 members to support in every way except financially. Its inaugural Ally was financial literacy nonprofit Clarifi.
“One of the things we hope to do is help them increase their visibility,” said Forum Vice President Peggy McCausland. “That, of course, helps their organization grow and develop.”
Another avenue for support is through pro bono services in areas of expertise among members. For instance: Need some help with public relations? The Forum has members who do it for a living. And McCausland said Girls on the Run will be looking to establish a governance board — an area the vice president said Forum members will be able to help their new partner achieve.
Right now, Girls on the Run is volunteer-driven except for Executive Director Colleen Kelly Howard. Girls involved in the program meet twice a week with volunteer coaches who educate them on things like positive self-talk and standing up to bullies and peer pressure.
“The lessons build on one another,” said Howard. “As the girls move throughout the season, the running part gets a little bit longer, and by the end of the season they participate in a 5K. It gives them the skills and empowers them to set and meet a goal.”
Howard has had two daughters go through the program.
“The most important thing is to have them speak for themselves and give them the skills to make them feel like they can do anything and achieve anything, that they’re in control of their destiny and the decisions they make,” she said. “They’re the ones really that are responsible for their actions and they have the power to make a change in their community.”
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What’s the mission link?
“We’re focused on women leaders. Women leaders start out as girls. Girls who learn to lead grow up to be women who can lead,” McCausland said. “It’s an exciting opportunity to work with our future leaders. It was the mission that resonated first and foremost with us.”-30-
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