Can you believe that CWLI is embarking on its 25th year of helping women discover the authentic female leader inside of them? The work our organization has done over the past two and a half decades has changed the landscape of women’s leadership in Chattanooga. As we prepare to move forward into a new season, I believe it is important that we take a moment to reflect on where we began and how far we have come. This allows us to appreciate the growth we’ve experienced together.

When the Women’s Leadership Institute was launched in 1996, finding a woman in an executive level position in our community was rare. The founding women of WLI wanted to change that. They focused on forming an organization that would give women the opportunity to interact with each other in a more productive manner and launch a new “generation” of women leaders. Two years later, WLI gained non-profit status.

When WLI originated, Chattanooga was not part of the name. However, in 2008, that changed. This name change marked a significant milestone for our organization. We had grown to over 150 women who were passionate about shining a light on the idea that women’s perspectives and discernment make a difference in all aspects of work and life and that women bring a wide range of ideas to the table that have changed the world around us. We began having quarterly leadership luncheons. We also hosted the first annual Women Mentoring Women series, which was rebranded as “Game ChangeHer” in 2019. Through this program, women in our community are learning the skills of being a mentor and are pouring into the lives of young women who are the future of our world.

Now, let’s fast forward to today. Oh, how far we have come: Over 600 women have started their leadership growth journey with us! Daily, we are sending women onto the front lines of our society to shape the narrative of current and future leaders in our community and help these women harness their power.

We all know that 2020 threw us a curveball, but we have come out of the pandemic stronger and re-energized to continue working to empower, celebrate, elevate, and advocate for one another. The future is incredibly bright for our organization and for female leaders in the Scenic City. In September, we will come together to celebrate the past, present, and future of CWLI at IMPACT 2021. During this 2-day leadership symposium, we will have the opportunity to explore the current state of women in leadership and examine ways to elevate female talent throughout our region. For more information, please visit our website and make sure to keep an eye out for upcoming announcements via email.

I cannot wait to celebrate the growth we have seen and are continuing to experience with all of you. We have much work left to do, and I am honored to partner in this work with some of the brightest minds in our community.

Let’s Move FORward Together,