Bellmont employees at volunteering events

Building Each Other Up to Give Back Through Volunteering

Three years ago, I attend­ed an event at the Weis­man Art Muse­um on the Uni­ver­si­ty of Min­neso­ta cam­pus host­ed by the Cen­ter for Girls’ Lead­er­ship – a small-but-mighty non­prof­it ded­i­cat­ed to inspir­ing girls today to lead tomor­row. I imme­di­ate­ly want­ed to get involved, but – con­sid­er­ing my hec­tic col­lege senior sched­ule – I put my name on the sure‑I’d‑love-to-help-someday list and put it on the back burn­er. As the year went on, I made sure to keep in touch peri­od­i­cal­ly with the exec­u­tive direc­tor, Alex Young, in the hopes I’d be able to ful­ly com­mit to the orga­ni­za­tion one day.

Flash for­ward to May 2015: Grad­u­a­tion, a job offer from Bell­mont Part­ners and a moun­tain of free time pre­vi­ous­ly reserved for papers and projects. I emailed Alex yet again ask­ing if she need­ed help with the CGL. She oblig­ed, this time ask­ing me to join the board and help her grow the orga­ni­za­tion. I’ve been on the board of direc­tors for almost two years and, now in our sixth year, we’re striv­ing to cul­ti­vate mean­ing­ful rela­tion­ships with a diverse group of incred­i­ble women across the Twin Cities. This past week­end, we host­ed a new event called Girls in Media. The goal was to cre­ate an expe­ri­ence geared toward help­ing girls cre­ate their own val­ues-based mes­sag­ing as an alter­na­tive to many of the neg­a­tive stereo­types and images they’re served in TV shows, movies, music and more. The girls cre­at­ed Insta­gram sto­ries, wrote an out­line for a print news­pa­per arti­cle, brain­stormed new CGL pro­grams and ways to mar­ket them, and stretched their lead­er­ship and con­fi­dence skills by pre­sent­ing their work at the end of the event.

Bell­mont Part­ners gra­cious­ly spon­sored Girls in Media and my dear friend and col­league Bri­ana Grue­newald sat on our pan­el of incred­i­ble women from a vari­ety of media careers. The rest of the pan­el includ­ed Kel­ly Jor­dan (for­mer WCCO-AM and KSTP-TV pro­duc­er), Bata­la McFar­lane (pub­lish­er of Insight News) and Deb­o­rah Hon­ore (a cur­rent stu­dent at the Uni­ver­si­ty of St. Thomas and alum­na of Three­Six­ty Jour­nal­ism). These women inspired a room­ful of girls ages 9 to 14 to be true to them­selves no mat­ter what and shared tips for suc­ceed­ing in media careers. Here are three oth­er pieces of advice atten­dees got that I wish I knew before I entered high school.

  1. Don’t be afraid to reach out. If you’re drawn to a cer­tain teacher, coach or com­mu­ni­ty per­son, reach out! Don’t hes­i­tate to ask them to cof­fee or to pick their brain about how they got where they are. I know there are at least 14 peo­ple at Bell­mont Part­ners alone who are more than will­ing to chat over cof­fee. We’ve all expe­ri­enced first-hand just how impor­tant men­tors can be.
  2. If you want to do some­thing, do it. Don’t both­er with the what-ifs – if you’re pas­sion­ate about a side project or inter­est­ed in a cer­tain sub­ject of knowl­edge, pur­sue it! Use the resources you have now to cre­ate some­thing. And if those resources aren’t there, reach out to some­one who may have them. See above for your next step.
  3. Build each oth­er up, don’t tear each oth­er down. As com­pet­i­tive, goal-ori­ent­ed women, it can be easy to feel threat­ened by anoth­er suc­cess­ful woman or tear each oth­er down in pur­suit of suc­cess. But the real mag­ic hap­pens when we find oth­er women who share our per­son­al val­ues and push each oth­er to be our best selves. I’m so lucky to work in an office where 12 out of 14 of us are women. We build each oth­er up and cel­e­brate our suc­cess­es each and every day.

I’m so excit­ed to see how the CGL grows from here, and I’m so grate­ful for the sup­port­ive cul­ture Bell­mont Part­ners fos­ters. Our agency even recent­ly start­ed an ini­tia­tive appro­pri­ate­ly titled “Bell­mont Gives Back,” encour­ag­ing each of us to spend a few hours each month giv­ing back to the com­mu­ni­ty in any way we’re per­son­al­ly pas­sion­ate about. If you’re inter­est­ed in vol­un­teer­ing or learn­ing more about the Cen­ter for Girls’ Lead­er­ship, vis­it

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