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Women Uplifting Women

Some of the area’s most powerful, successful and well-known women will help provide guidance to women who need advice and an opportunity to achieve their own success. Women Who Lead, a partnership between Black BRAND, Norfolk State University and Truist Bank, formally launched Thurs., March 9.  The bank contributed $250,000 to the women’s professional accelerator program.

The program will help women who are capable but are often left behind when it comes to advancement because they can’t get their foot in the door, or they come up against a ceiling that keeps them from achieving. It is the visionary idea of Blair Durham, co-founder of Black BRAND, a nonprofit that serves as the Black Chamber of Commerce for the Hampton Roads and Dan River areas.

“Women Who Lead is a pipeline for women with underdeveloped talent, they’re not talentless,” said Norfolk State University President Javaune Adams-Gaston, Ph.D. “And what happens to you when your voice is silenced you begin to think it’s me,” she continued. “Our job is to say it’s not you. It’s the system and we’re going help you get yours. We’re going to help you find your voice. We’re going to help you find your way forward.”

Women Who Lead will serve low- to moderate-income minority women workers managing multiple jobs to make ends meet and considering leaving the area in search of opportunity. A goal in helping the women who come to the program is to reduce the area’s loss of talent and fill hundreds of open higher wage positions.

Said Michelle Ellis Young, CEO of the YWCA South Hampton Roads, “We can’t talk about supporting women’s empowerment and economic advancement without really thinking about transformational change and what that really means to community.” She said that transformation starts with women. “When we invest in women, not just some women, but all women, we can speed the change we want to see. We can transform the family. The family can transform the community and then the community can transform the world.”

Please see our photos from the event in our Flickr album.