“Back then we called it bossy, now we call it good leadership skills.” Erin Bosch, Director of Women’s Leadership and Executive Director of Dress for Success Sioux Falls, laughs as she recalls the labels she faced as a strong-willed and empowered young girl.
Those same traits that Erin had as a kid, mixed with her ability to take risks and always learn something from them, have set the tone for her career and have helped nurture hundreds of women through her work at EmBe.
As a young professional, Erin took on small business ownership with gusto – another one of those risks that would empower and challenge her. She bought a card and stationery business in downtown Sioux Falls and was part of a group of small business owners (and an even smaller female group) who saw the potential of downtown before the area really started to boom. That experience helped her build connections and friendships, find mentors and, eventually, a new career.
Through the connections built at her business and her career after that, she found herself volunteering at EmBe. That mission – one of empowerment – resonated deeply with Erin. She knew no matter what she wanted to be a part of the new program they were piloting – Women’s Leadership Program.
“I saw so much potential in that program and it wasn’t my potential. But it was the potential of what it could be and what it could look like once we were five, ten years down the road for these women who had felt like they had been empowered and a fire had been lit in them.”
Erin was hired to help develop and lead the Women’s Leadership Program and has now successfully led six classes of women (with classes seven and eight starting in 2017) through an evolving curriculum that focuses on professional and personal development.
A year ago, Dress for Success Sioux Falls merged with EmBe and Erin took on the Executive Director role for that program. While the work and women served in WLP and Dress for Success Sioux Falls are different, the message is the same.
“The base of both programs is for women to be the best versions of themselves – to know their value and to understand that and be able to articulate that. Even if you don’t have the money to afford a wardrobe, you’re still extremely valuable to us and that shouldn’t be a barrier to your success. And being authentic – you should be able to be yourself in any situation and be valued and appreciated for that.”
Erin balances humble and proud in a way that defines her worth and her empathy to all the women she serves. And her ultimate goal for herself is one that lifts up others.
“I want my legacy to be that I helped women, even if it was a small amount.”