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Investing Inwards:

a Nudge to Women to Center Themselves for the Biggest Gains

by Chantelle Pierre

Women remain woefully underrepresented in leadership positions, board rooms, and elsewhere critical decisions are made. When Loyola's first female president, Tania Tetlow, delivered her welcome address to our leadership cohort, she spoke about her desire to create a pipeline of women to fill the critical void in C-Suite positions. She called the Loyola University New Orleans Women's Leadership Academy more than a program; she said it was a movement for women to develop the skills to network, negotiate and ultimately lead successfully in C-Suite positions and beyond.

From the first session, I knew I had made the right decision to invest in myself and clarify my career trajectory. Since then, I have viewed every monthly workshop day as a gift of time, introspection, growth, and connection. I have defined what I wanted in my next position by declaring who I am as a leader:

"I enjoy raising seven-figure gifts for people of color-led organizations that make their communities more just and equitable."

My leadership statement above came from months of goal-setting sessions, personality tests, exploring my values, and gleaning incredible insight from our engaging speakers. I had to whittle down all my thoughts and aspirations to one concise statement that reflects me.

Now, with only two sessions until I complete the program, I am celebrating that I recently accepted an incredible job offer with a PoC led fundraising firm that offers services for black, brown, and women-led organizations. I will be serving as the firm's Chief of Staff leading a team, collaborating with the CEO, and managing a portfolio of clients whose organizations are collectively uplifting humanity.

I will happily evangelize the critical importance of programs like the WLA for any woman looking to honor her inner leader and fearlessly pursue her audacious goals. This kind of program will help you set goals and unlock resources to help you achieve them.

Who can benefit from this experience? It is for women who:

*will actively participate and skillfully leverage their newfound network

*can benefit from the insight of mentors

*need to create an ecosystem of supporters and accountability partners

*need to shift their mindset away from limiting beliefs and self-doubt

Why should women invest in themselves?

As women, many of us tend to shrink ourselves and our needs to meet the needs of others- spouses/ partners, children, etc. In reality, we should be doing the exact opposite. We need to see that prioritizing ourselves and investing in ourselves IS INVESTING IN OUR FAMILIES. We can not operate empty and expect to be our best for anyone, not even ourselves. Also:

  • Many of us already have what it takes to succeed in leadership positions, but we can use a boost of self-confidence and a supportive network.

  • In programs like the WLA, women can create safe spaces to explore their values, vulnerabilities, and strengths and harness them into assets we use to lead teams.

  • Investing in ourselves allows us to stay current in our skills, marketable, and optimally positioned to succeed even during challenging times.

  • Most importantly, it will enable women to normalize their place in C-suites and other visible leadership roles.

  • Younger generations like our children should see more women in leadership positions, and we should model that for them.

For more information about the WLA, please visit,

Chantelle Pierre has over 25 years experience in the nonprofit industry. After struggling with balancing her career and motherhood over the past 14 years, she thinks she’s finally found balance…for now. You can connect with her on LinkedIn and Medium.

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