Somewhere between International Women’s Day and March Madness, I’ve been thinking about the women who are part of our staff team and the girls who are members in our Clubs. At Okanagan Boys and Girls Clubs, about 80% of our employees are women. Most of these women are in leadership roles. Many lead children and youth, others lead our staff teams. I’ve been wondering what the secret is for girls to grow into empowered woman, ready to take on the challenge of leadership. As a woman in a leadership role, I’ve been thinking about my own journey and wondering how it parallels the experiences of others. My conclusion is that building leadership skills boils down to seizing opportunity and finding strong role models.
I had an opportunity to learn leadership at summer camp. That was the best training ground ever. I lead groups of girls who were discovering who they were and I was able to help them discover confidence and skills that they didn’t know they had. I learned about responsibility, influence, motivation, team building, conflict resolution, and most importantly, empathy. Over the years, I continued to build on my experience to become the leader I am today. I owe much of my success to the strong role models I have had throughout my life. These role models include my Grandmothers, my Mother, camp counselors, teachers, and even more women. The list is very long.
As an employer of young women, many of whom are entering the work force fresh out of school, we feel a responsibility to help them find their way. As an employer of women who are balancing parenting and working, we feel a responsibility to ensure that they are able to achieve a balance between their families and their work.
We have some wise women in our organization. Those are members of our team who bring their own life experiences to their roles as leaders, and who always seem to know exactly what to do, and when to do it. They inspire us all.
What do all these women say to the girls who attend our programs and services? How can we raise the next generation of girls to become the confident and competent women we know they can become? How can we continue to be role models for the girls who are attending our programs? How do we empower girls to see themselves as leaders?
The answers are endless and diverse. At Boys and Girls Clubs, we hire staff members who inspire girls and encourage them to pursue their ambitions. Below you can read a few stories about exemplary women who have acted as role models for children and youth in the Okanagan. I encourage you to read on and to think about the female leaders and mentors in your own lives.
- Diane Entwistle, CEO