leaders. I was previously tutoring at Ranson Middle School and coaching
By Carrie Cook, JLC Member www.empowHERment.com
at Vance High School - schools I attended as a young girl in Charlotte. And every time I went to the schools, I was struck by how many students
EmpowHERment is more than an organization. It’s a movement. It’s a
adult. Ultimately, I knew I could not work with every girl who was seeking a
asked me to work with them, and were seeking guidance from a caring connection, but I could create a platform to connect more girls and women
way of life. It is the belief that communities are strengthened when
in a meaningful way, and that’s exactly what we did. I truly believe that
girls and women are empowered to lead locally. We act on this belief by
every girl and woman should have a mentor and be a mentor. It changes
empowering girls and women through mentoring, talent development
and advocacy. EmpowHERment is on a mission to strengthen the female leadership pipeline. We work with girls in grades 6-12 for our mentoring
In 2011, we held a series of focus groups in the community and found that
and talent development programming, hire local collegiate women as
most organizations only focus on the development of the youth (girls),
interns so they gain valuable work experience, and partner with women
or the development of professional women. There wasn’t really a bridge
in our community who are mentors, volunteers, curriculum leaders, and speakers. I often get asked what’s the difference between EmpowHERment and other mentoring programs for girls. And my answer is always the
organization to bring girls and women together to learn about our unique community resources, challenges and opportunities and what we can do as girls and women to lead locally. So we started in 2011 by hosting
same three words: reciprocal growth relationship. We are intentionally
an Annual EmpowHERment Summit to connect girls and women in our
seeking to develop the leadership skills of both the girls and the women
community with local issues, speakers and resources. That year 70 girls
in our programs, while building social capital. So many opportunities for
attended and we had about 30 women volunteers. Fast forward, and last
growth and leadership are connected to networks, and we can build more
year during our 5th Annual EmpowHERment Summit we had 250 girls in
effective networks for girls and women in Charlotte. No matter who you
grades 6-12 participate and over 60 women who volunteered. We had the
are, no matter what you’re doing, whether you are in 6th grade or in your
Mayor of Charlotte attend, the Superintendent share remarks about her
6th career, we can all continue developing our skills as leaders. And we have to show our girls that you don’t have to be perfect to lead.
leadership journey, local business leaders, community leaders, non-profit
We’re all learning and growing together, and empowering each other along
I also really love our collegiate internship program because I know college
leaders and dynamic local college young ladies to share their experiences.
the way. Our three core programs are:
students are looking for meaningful work experience and serving with a local organization is a huge win-win.
Annual EmpowHERment Summit (open to 300 girls in grades 6-12)
I hope that EmpowHERment will connect, inspire and empower countless
Monthly Leadership Academy (open to any girl in grades 6-12) Mentor Program (4-year comprehensive leadership development program that girls begin in 9th grade and graduate from in 12th grade with the
numbers of girls and women. I want us to continue developing a strong presence in Charlotte, then expand regionally, nationally and
support of a one-on-one woman mentor).
internationally. This is my life’s work. There is a need to support and
According to a national study conducted a couple of years ago, 62%
that work, starting at home.
empower girls and women across the globe, and I’m deeply committed to
of U.S. girls report no connection to women leaders in their community outside of their family. That’s just insane. We’ve got so many talented women leaders in our community, and girls who are craving a connection with women whom they can look up to as role-models, mentors and
The CRIER is the official magazine of the Junior League of Charlotte, Inc. (JLC) and is published four times a year.