The Professional Women’s Group

When CEO Joi Gordon thought about the networking opportunities she had been given that would advance her career as a young lawyer, and after joining Dress for Success Worldwide, she realized there was a real gap for the low-resource women we serve.

Once they were given free suits for their interviews and professional attire for their new jobs, what else did they need to help them retain employment and achieve economic independence? Where could they get high-quality professional development when they couldn’t afford it, couldn’t get release time from work for a luncheon or conference, or didn’t feel they even belonged in the room? Her answer was PWG – the Professional Women’s Group.

After a new affiliate begins, such as ours in the Quad Cities, it takes 18 months to develop enough capacity to begin hosting these free monthly seminars. We chose to provide a meal and child care to reduce barriers to participation. Despite a strong PWG startup in January 2013, our energy and focus started to lag within a few years. With our suiting program growing by 30-40% per year, we needed help to improve this important and transformative “Next Step to Success” program.

So we turned to the Iowa Women’s Foundation.

Partnering with IWF

We were thrilled when our first IWF grant award was approved for 2016. This started us on the path to growing a vibrant, empowering sisterhood of support. Active membership and graduations of the year-long program increased significantly.

The current grant support for 2019 supports the new PWG Alumnae, especially for PWG graduates on topics such as work-life balance. PWGA pairs grads and volunteers working as a team to create on-going programs four times per year, improving the lives of Iowa’s women and their families.

Activity created for April 2019 PWGA session on work-life balance.
PWGA members Jen and Gloria planned the April session with support from DFSQC volunteers and mentors.

A special thanks to our friends at Dress for Success Quad Cities, one of our 2019 Grant Partners, for writing this guest blog. Visit their website to learn more about the organization, and be sure to like and follow their page on Facebook!