Happy summer and welcome to Aspire Ascend’s newsletter, Aspirations.
As the weather gets warmer, we close out a very exciting season of Aspire Ascend events and activities, highlighted by our 4 speaking and networking events. Held in the fabulous National Restaurant Association (NRA) headquarters in Washington, DC, all of these events – Remarkable Woman and Wine, Women and Knowledge Series – were completely sold-out. Thank you National Restaurant Association for your continuing support of Aspire Ascend and for promoting women’s leadership.
We are currently promoting our Fall programs which will begin in September 20, 2017 with our Remarkable Woman lunch series. Cathy Merrill Williams, President and Publisher of Washingtonian Media will be our featured interview. Aspire Ascend events are open to both members and non-members. Members, of course, receive a significant registration discount. In June, Aspire Ascend celebrates the first anniversary of its newly designed website.
We are also happy to let you know that our membership rolls are growing significantly and that means a broader network for all members. We are increasing our partnerships with individual coaches, enhancing our relationships with complimentary organizations to provide our members with the best career development guidance, resources and inspiration available, and providing on-site leadership training to organizations.
Aspirations is designed to support members’ networking efforts, offer guidance from our coaches, and share the Aspire Ascend vision: to increase the confidence and guide the success of women who are currently in leadership positions. We offer career advancement advice, “Women to Know,” and links to blogs, webinars and other resources to provide the tools and inspiration executive women need to move their careers forward.
I invite you to visit Aspire Ascend’s website and sign up for the newsletter. When you visit the website, please review our member benefits and check out our upcoming programs. You can also find photos of our Remarkable Woman andWine, Women and Knowledge events. We expect another successful year for these events in 2017. You can register for them here. All executive-level women are welcome at these events and Aspire Ascend members enjoy reduced registration fees.
I look forward to seeing you at future events and welcoming you into the Aspire Ascend community.
You became the President & CEO of Rebuilding Together in January 2016. What motivated you to take the role of CEO with a nonprofit after 30 years as an attorney and finance expert?
After a long career in banking and law, I decided that it was time to use what I had learned about business to “do good.” It was suggested that I run a national non-profit with affiliates across the country that was having some struggles. I felt that the difficulties the organization was facing could be solved with energy, enthusiasm and diplomacy, skills and talents that I felt I could offer. After just 12 months, the organization is financially sound with an increased capacity and desire to continue its mission.
What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?
In developing my career, one of the most important lessons learned was to surround myself with smart, talented and funny women, in and outside of my chosen career. I relied on these women to give me candid advice, help me think through problems and hone my relationship skills.
What do women do differently from men as they move forward in an executive career? Is that good or bad?
I think men and women behave differently as we try to achieve success. In my experience, women tend to lean on and depend on teamwork to get things done in order to shine. Men tend to pursue opportunities that require more solo performance. I also think that men are much better about articulating their own professional strengths as women are about their challenges.
What is the best and most challenging decision you’ve ever made?
The best decision I ever made was the most financially risky one as well. I decided to leave the practice of law and pursue banking, a field to which I was new. I took a large base salary cut and bet on getting most of my compensation from a yearend merit based bonus. It was my best year in terms of compensation ever! It also was my most challenging – I had to learn quickly on the job. I made mistakes, but I had a great mentor/teacher/coach/boss (a woman, of course) who made it all possible. After twenty years in the same industry, I count her as one of my closest advisors.
What advice do you have for women aiming for a senior leadership position?
I would advise women who are striving for leadership positions to take steps outside of the workplace to learn about leadership. I encourage women to join organizations, nonprofits, and speaking groups and PARTICIPATE. Take the time to shine in these alternative settings because it is possible to gain confidence, build skills and learn about the politics of an organization in environments that are not directly related to the career path. Self-confidence, backed by “trying on” the skills of leading a project, a board, a meeting, is the key to success.
Why did you decide to join Aspire Ascend and the Executive Edge? How does Aspire Ascend support your career and/or personal goals?
I decided to join Aspire Ascend to continue learning from other successful and talented women. I hope to expand my network and continue to receive and give good counsel and advice as I grow into my new nonprofit leadership career. I signed up for the Executive Edge membership in order to prepare for corporate board service. I like the idea of a one-on-one mentor to help me identify what I have to bring to a corporate board and then how to best package my message.
President & CEO
Reston Limousine Service, Inc
Chief Executive Officer
"The mission of AAUW is very personal to me. In my household growing up, neither of my parents were able to graduate from college, but they instilled in me that I could be and do anything I wanted to in life. I know all of us agree education is a terrific tool towards eliminating inequality, but as we’ve seen from AAUW research and other studies, the path to career success, and equity in general, is still not an easy one. I’m excited to join AAUW at this moment, because of the opportunity to help shape our world. The time to find practical solutions to gender equity in our nation is right now."
President & CEO
The National Restaurant Association
Mary Beth Parks
September 20, 2017 - 12:00 pm-2:00 pm EST
Catherine Merrill Williams
President & Publisher
Catherine Merrill Williams is President and Publisher of Washingtonian Media, a media conglomerate that includes the flagship 50-year-old magazine, Washingtonian.
Meet this savvy women media executive who grew a media enterprise out of guts, and determination.
The National Restaurant Association
2055 L St. NW, Washington, DC
Seating is limited, Register here.