The 2011 Rising Stars Class Project pilot program paired 2011 HBA Rising Stars in San Francisco and Philadelphia in collaborative, team oriented volunteer projects with their local Dress for Success chapter.
by Reema Marks
“The impact of the experience is one which we will always remember”-2011 Rising Star Project participant.
The Dress for Success and Healthcare Business Women’s Association’s newly formed alliance reached a major milestone this year with the first annual 2011 Rising Stars Class Project. This innovative pilot program paired 2011 HBA Rising Stars in both San Francisco and Philadelphia in collaborative, team oriented volunteer projects with their local Dress for Success chapter. This pilot project for HBA and DFS is one which truly speaks to the mission of both organizations: To further develop the professional opportunities for women in the workplace, making this experience one that both the Rising Stars and the DFS clients found mutually rewarding.
One key event of the 2011 HBA Leadership Conference was the Rising Stars Breakfast, a moderated panel discussion by and for the Rising Stars that focuses on Leadership. A highlight of this event included a first-hand account of the Rising Stars Class Project from 2011 HBA Rising Star Sharlene Cirillo. Sharlene candidly described how the team approached the collaboration, “We had no road-map, which created an opportunity for creative thinking and out-of-the box ideas.” Debbie McCollough, a member of the Rising Stars Class Project Planning Team echoed a similar sentiment, “This project relied heavily on the team’s abilities to develop a unique event framework, ultimately they had to draw from their ability to innovate and create.” The panel also commented on how the teams organized themselves. Debbie McCollough stated, “The teams really drew upon their personal and professional individual skills sets for planning, networking and interview skills to develop their programs.”
Beginning in July 2011, the planning committee kicked off the first of several conversations about the pilot community service project with both teams. As the projects and ideas began to take shape, the teams along with their advisors shared ideas, strategies and at, times their limitations. As a first step, the teams were asked to initiate discussions with their local Dress for Success offices to determine the needs of the DFS clientele, services provided at the local offices and which programs would be best suited for the women. Each team then developed a strategy, a plan for implementation and executed their programs within a five-month period.
The 2011HBA Leadership Conference highlighted the teams’ work with Dress for Success. Booths in Exhibit Hall A of the conference center proudly displayed the work of both teams visually through poster presentations documenting the Rising Stars pilot project with Dress for Success. Each poster emphasized the collaborations through pictures taken at the events as well as quotes from participants, HBA members and Dress for Success clients. In fact, the Philadelphia Chapter shared one of the thank you notes written by a DFS client expressing her thanks for the team’s work and the impact it had on her.
The booth in the exhibit hall was staffed by Rising Star volunteers as well as HBA members involved with the project. As individuals passed by the tables they were greeted with stories about the experience with DFS as well as opportunities to learn more, contribute and donate items to Dress for Success.
The team was excited to hear so many express their appreciation for the work that was done and eagerly asked how they could get involved with their local chapters and how they could also give back. As the afternoon approached, the teams were overwhelmed by the spectacular response to the “call for accessories” as bags of earrings, belts, shoes and purses lined the booth. “We had no idea we would have this many donations,” remarked one individual. As the afternoon continued more donations followed and soon the tables were overflowing with donations from HBA conference attendees.
The executive director of the Washington, DC Dress for Success office, Megan Goffney stated, “What an amazing set of donations, we never expected to receive such an array of accessories!” When asked why this alliance is so important, Ann Mohamadi, HBA board’s strategic alliance director stated, “The DFS and HBA Alliance is one which is very important to HBA as it speaks to the mission of both organizations and provides women with the personal and professional tools, skills and confidence to advance.”
Laurie Cooke, CEO of HBA stated, “HBA’s partnership with Dress for Success is one of our key priorities for 2011 and beyond and we are delighted to see the amazing work from both teams.”
Overall, the 2011 Rising Stars community service pilot project with Dress for Success was a solid achievement and both teams look forward to continuing to share their experiences and continuing their fruitful relationships with their local Dress for Success chapters. As one team member stated, “We cannot wait to see what is possible for next year after paving the way in 2011 and we can only look forward to helping more and giving back.”