About a year ago, I found myself yearning for a way to give back to the community.
I wanted a way to pay it forward and use the incredible opportunity that has been bestowed upon me and the knowledge I’ve gained for the benefit of the greater good. As corporate leaders, I feel it is our duty to take the successes we have, celebrate them, and find a way to use them for the good of other community-based programs and organizations with whom our values align.
Beyond that, female leaders have so much to gain personally and professionally by being a part of a board, both in expanding their network and enhancing their skill set and business acumen.
According to a recent study by Catalyst, only 21.9% of fortune 500 companies’ board seats in 2018 were occupied by females, a statistic that will only rise as more women raise their hand for the opportunity and start by getting some board experience on their resumes.
I am proud to be taking an initial step in my journey this year and I hope to one day grow that statistic.
How do you find the right board? Start with what matters most to you. Around this same time last year, a colleague of mine, a dear friend, was undergoing treatment for cancer. During her treatments, she received the benefits of a wonderful nonprofit organization, Healing Meals Community Project that provides healthy meals for patients and their families while they struggle with a health crisis. Their mission spoke to me. I had seen my own mom struggle to take care of my dad just a few years ago and remember the pressure it put on her. I wish I knew then about this wonderful organization and the work that they do to help people in my community and their caretakers as they courageously fight a health crisis.
The other aspect of this organization that resonated with me is that all of the work done to prepare the healthy meals is accomplished by youth volunteers. I arrived one evening to witness these volunteers, ages 14 and up, come together from all different communities, build camaraderie, form friendships and best of all put aside technology for the evening while they cooked meals that would feed the recipients.
It touched me to see these kids work together, be present in the moment and learn to appreciate that there are families right in their communities that are experiencing something so difficult. When the executive director extended the invitation for me to join their board, I knew that it was just the opportunity I had been searching for.
I am excited to be a part of this particular organization's growth and journey and to do what I can to guide them as they grow. I would encourage all business leaders (and especially women) to find that purpose and mission that speaks to you and give as much of your time as you can to help the cause. It is food for the soul, and it will stretch your skills in ways you may not have imagined. Seeing a community-based organization meet their goals, and being a part of the journey, is one of the most fulfilling accomplishments you will enjoy, and a legacy that you will be proud of.