Good advice from Great Dames

Sharon Kelly Hake said her 30-year career as a global marketing director at DuPont gave her an opportunity to talk to women from all over the world, and she noticed a common thread.

“There was always this underlying current, this struggle of ‘What’s the mark I want to make, and how can I improve the world for my family, my community, and in my job?’”

Eight years ago, Hake and her daughter Heather launched Great Dames, a nonprofit that offers a mix of workshops and mentoring programs aimed at driving women toward effecting change in their lives.

“We’re a learning organization,” said Hake. “We’re committed to helping women discover their ‘great dameness,’ or power and purpose to be effective, impactful, to advance their ideas and be happier in
the long-run.”

The organization recently announced that it will launch peer advisory groups in Delaware and Philadelphia, “personal think tanks” that will offer additional mentoring and support under a trained facilitator.

Hake said that participants asked for the chance to meet more frequently and to go deeper. “They want to be in a trusted environment, and talk about issues that matter to them. They want a sounding board for their ideas and they want support.”

Each group will meet monthly, clustered according to the type of support they’re looking for.

The peer advisory groups are the latest offering the organization, which has engaged more than 6,500 women since it launched, according to Hake. The organization offers regular mentoring and workshops, as well as signature events, like the Powerful Conversation series and the Remarkable Ideas Competition. Winners of the female-only pitching competition receive a $25,000 prize package to ramp up their business.

“Every single event or conversation series or workshop — everything we do is around mobilization.
Hake has expanded Great Dames to chapters in Rochester, New York (Susan B. Anthony’s birthplace, Hake pointed out) and in Philadelphia.

“But Delaware is unique,” said Hake. “We have a very diverse audience and we promote that and we welcome it because it provides wonderfully interesting conversations from all perspectives.”

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