The Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute (CWLI) is a nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with approximately 650 members. Its mission is to increase the leadership capabilities and influence of women in the Chattanooga community while providing opportunities for established businesswomen to interact and engage with a ‘new generation’ of women leaders. Established in 1996, CWLI is now identified as a premiere training and networking organization for women of all ages, backgrounds and professions.
Women are unique and valuable contributors to society and whose opinions ultimately benefit the entire community, but they continue to be under-represented in leadership roles. CWLI’s programs and activities are designed to help more women develop valuable leadership skills while providing more opportunities for women in our community to assume leadership positions.
Kim Shumpert joined the CWLI Team in May of 2018. Throughout her career, Kim has had the honor of working with numerous respected business leaders and philanthropists. She is passionate about improving the quality of life and creating pathways to opportunity for women and children. Many of her professional pursuits have been focused on equipping individuals to promote collective impact within their communities. She enjoys working with organizations of all sizes designing initiatives that will advance access to high-quality employment and citizenry.
Her professional accomplishments include writing numerous grants and strategic plans, board and donor cultivation, organizational restructuring, organizational capacity building and development, fundraising, and program creation, implementation and administration. Since moving back to her hometown of Chattanooga in 2016, she has wasted no time in getting involved. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Southeastern Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals, works on multiple local fundraising initiatives and frequently speaks at community gatherings to promote important issues.
She is driven by the philosophy that affecting change in a community is about building relationships that equip people to improve their lives and the lives of others through meaningful experiences. She and her husband, Brad, are raising their two daughters to use their talents to become influential young women in leadership.
Alese Taylor joined CWLI as in August of 2017 as the Administrative Assistant. She has since moved into the Program Coordinator position serving as the staff liason for several committees including Networking, Women Mentoring Women, Leadership Luncheon, & Financial Empowerment. She also assists with administrative duties for the organization.
Prior to joining the CWLI team, Alese worked as an Information Services Assistant at a private insurance firm in Memphis, Tennessee. After working in private insurance, she went to BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee as a Community Relations Intern. Outside of the corporate world, Alese also gained experience working as a Mentorship Program Coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at UTC.
Outside of her work at CWLI, Alese is pursuing her Master’s Degree in Business Administration from UTC, as well as working for a Graduate Assistant for the Office of Multicultural Affairs. There she is responsible for managing center programming and supervising the Multicultural Mentorship Program.
Alese graduated with honors from UTC in 2017 with a BS in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and a BS in Sports & Leisure Service Administration.
Ashley Rutledge joined CWLI as an intern for the spring 2018 semester and has since been hired as Communications Coordinator. She is responsible for handling all external communications including social media, promotion of upcoming events, compiling the monthly newsletter and general announcements sent to the public.
Prior to joining the CWLI, Ashley worked as a marketing intern with both Chambliss Law Firm and UTC Athletics. Outside of CWLI, Ashley is pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication from UTC and plans to graduate in December 2018. She also serves as a Young Life Leader at Signal Mountain High School and an Assistant Editor with The Echo, UTC’s student newspaper.
The Women’s Leadership Institute was initiated in 1996 with informal gatherings regarding the small number of women in true leadership positions in the Chattanooga community, especially the relatively few women holding elective and appointive office in local government. Additionally, a movement began to form an organization where women leaders could interact with each other more productively and could bring forward a new “generation” of women leaders. In 1998, WLI became a non-profit organization.
Ten years later, in 2008, “Chattanooga” was added to the title. The Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute consisted of 150 members. Quarterly Leadership Luncheons were held. The first annual Women Mentoring Women series was held with the purpose of developing mentoring skills in emerging women leaders. WMW has since graduated over 138 women.
In 2012 and again in 2015, CWLI leadership developed a strategic business plan to determine the future focus of the organization and the strategies to reach its goals.
Today, CWLI has approximately 650 members, a 20-member Board of Directors, an executive director, a programs coordinator, a communications coordinator, and 13 volunteer committees. Strong participation in leadership development series such as Finance in the Boardroom, Personal Financial Empowerment and the Leadership Studies series continue to increase the leadership capabilities and influence of women in the Chattanooga community.
2018 Board of Directors
Chair | Ronelle Sellers
Vice Chair | Janet Dunn
YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga
Secretary | Dionne Jennings
Treasurer | Rowena Belcher
Immediate Past Chair | Stefanie Crowe
Stonebridge Financial Asset Management
Director Emeritus | Marj Flemming
First Things First
Autumn Witt Boyd
Law Office of Autumn Witt Boyd
Roundtable Advisors of Raymond James
The Group Real Estate Brokerage
Chattanooga Public Library
Chambliss, Bahner & Stophel
North Georgia Corporate Consulting
JP Morgan Chase
Parkridge Health Systems
Memorial Healthcare System
Parkridge Health System
Chattanooga Police Department