Sarah Rhea Werner left her full-time day job a little over a year ago to start her own business. She’s a writer. She runs two successful podcasts. She writes a column about podcasting for Forbes magazine. She does public speaking and workshops. She consults on marketing and branding. She supports herself doing things that she loves. Sarah seems to have it all figured out.

But in 2014, Sarah didn’t have it all figured out.

“I felt stuck in my career. I was a senior content strategist and I was frustrated because I didn’t know how to go beyond where I was. I didn’t know how to take any ‘next steps.’ I didn’t know how to ask for a raise. I didn’t know how to ask for a promotion. I didn’t know any of that stuff.”

That’s when Sarah joined the EmBe Women’s Leadership Program. The 18-month program facilitates the development of emerging female leaders by utilizing the experiences and skills of established women; to extend a hand-up to young women who will follow.

“The Women’s Leadership Program provided me with the perfect opportunity to learn more about growing in a career. And immediately, it was a new experience for me because I wasn’t used to being surrounded by communities of women because, at the time, I’d been in tech.”

Sarah didn’t realize the impact that building meaningful, personal but professional relationships with women would have in her life.

“Where we started was in a personal place and I think that really started things off well for me. We learned these powerful things about ourselves and sort of started our own individual leadership engines.”

With her engine started and a group of powerful women around her, Sarah graduated from the program and that’s when things really started to change for her. She continued building a network through an authentic approach to networking. And that strong network exists because of your donor dollars that support empowering women in your community.

“Because of those relationships I had formed during the program, I learned how to network in a personal and not superficial way. I learned so many skills from the program that I didn’t even know I was learning at the time.”

Her biggest takeaway came from something Judge Joni Cutler told their group in one of the sessions “make them tell you ‘no’” – a phrase that Sarah jokes she probably uses too much now.

“It was so freeing for me. Because, when it comes to asking for a raise, or when it comes to asking for a promotion, or when it comes to finding clients for the brand new baby business you’re starting, when it comes to any of that we’re afraid, in our very core, of rejection. We have all these fears. But, if you go in there knowing that I might fail and making them tell you no – it just made such a huge difference in my life. I am now able to ask for things that I wasn’t before and it’s all with the knowledge that ‘yeah, they can say no’ and that’s really the worst thing that can happen and that’s ok. It won’t kill you.”

Sarah’s career has transformed since her time in EmBe’s Women’s Leadership Program. Those skills she developed, relationships she built and lessons she learned shaped her to be the bold, creative entrepreneur she is today.

But perhaps the greatest impact your donor dollars make with the Women’s Leadership Program are through the way women from this program further push it’s purpose of extending a hand-up to the next generation of women.

“I learned what it’s like being in a larger community of women who are not so focused on competing  but on helping each other. I learned about that “give other women a hand up” mentality and that was just really, really beautiful.”

You can see that chain of support. Joni Cutler reached out her hand to help Sarah up. And now Sarah reaches her hand out to the young women who attend Leadership Camp for Middle School Girls.

“Being able to pass on leadership skills and qualities and talk with girls in that age range is a really cool experience for me because I’m able to give them something that I wish I would have had at that age.”

And so your dollars make the important work of female empowerment spread. Making ripples over and over. Empowering generations of women on and on and on…

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