Letter from the CEO – May 2015

Dear AWEE Stakeholder,

I don’t often – actually, I never – quote Frank Underwood, Kevin Spacey’s fascinatingly troubling character from the Netflix blockbuster House of Cards, but in June 2014 a tweet showed up on his Twitter account (yes, he’s got one).

His 78-character thought that day: Small steps add up to great strides – so long as you know where you’re going.

Though his character may be fictional, the underlying thought behind that tweet is spot on in reflecting AWEE’s recent strides toward the bigger goal of changing even more lives through the dignity of work and leveling, as best we can in today’s environment, the wage-equality playing field.

At AWEE, we’re making great strides and we’ve always known where we want to be.

Recently, the Phoenix City Council approved an Equal Pay Ordinance based on a recommendation from Councilwoman Kate Gallego’s Equal Pay Workgroup of which I was a member. The ordinance achieves three goals:

* reinforcing Federal equal-pay requirements in all interactions with anyone doing business with the City of Phoenix;

* establishing a policy preventing retaliation from employers against women advocating for themselves; and

* changing language in the current policy to encourage development of recruitment and hiring plans for women in non-traditional jobs.

These may be small steps but they’re deeply important in moving toward a reachable goal of equal pay for equal work.

One day after the council’s vote, AWEE reached another milestone in our ongoing effort to expand and enhance the services, programs and opportunities when we officially launched the Arizona Women’s Education & Entrepreneur Center (AWEEc), Maricopa County’s only women’s business center.

Under the direction of Alicia Marseille and funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration, AWEEc will help develop, support and expand women-owned businesses for entrepreneurs, established companies and for women facing economic or other barriers to starting a business.

Business owners are already signing up. Among them are Alex Bradberry and Leiah Scheibel, who won the AWEEc-organized InnovateHER fastpitch competition for entrepreneurs and competed for a $30,000 cash prize as one of ten finalists in the national competition in Washington, D.C. during National Small Business Week.

Although this dynamic duo’s Sparkle Bar, Arizona’s first full-service make-up studio, won’t open until the summer, they already have 11,000 followers on Facebook.

There’s more. AWEE has partnered with BankWork$™ to deepen its long-time work with adults from low-income and minority communities and those with barriers to employment. The partnership to prepare workers for careers in the financial services industry comes as BankWork$™ continues its $4-million national expansion to 15 cities by 2019.

Memo to Frank Underwood: At AWEE, we’re making great strides and we’ve always known where we want to be.

Marie A. Sullivan
President & CEO

Letter from the CEO – May 2015
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