About two years ago, I was asked to speak on a career and employment panel for a program called Leaders of Today and Tomorrow (LOTT). I became so passionate about this amazing program that I joined the board, watched the phenomenal impact it had on the women involved, and am now the proud co-chair.
Here’s the long and the short of it: We want to help college-aged and emerging professional women see their role in furthering women’s leadership in all sectors of society. The LOTT program is designed to develop young women’s potential to lead professionally, personally, and in their communities. I have said many times that the work I do here on the blog is driven by a desire to empower and encourage all women everywhere to pursue their dreams and make real change in the world. I most certainly want you to look and feel amazing, but mostly I want you to look and feel amazing so you can stop worrying about how you look and get on with the work of your life.
My work with the LOTT program – providing young women with the tools they need to become effective leaders – dovetails perfectly with my work here. And I’m thrilled and proud to introduce you to to this revolutionary program today.
How does LOTT work?
There are dozens of women’s leadership programs and institutes out there, so what sets LOTT apart? We keep it small.
Each year we select 10 women from our pool of applicants to become LOTT fellows. These women are paired with mentors, women who have been screened and interviewed to make certain that they will support and challenge our fellows while complementing their personalities and needs. In addition to attending some group programming events together, our fellows meet with their mentors a minimum of three times for one-on-one discussions of goals, concerns, and next steps. Most choose to meet more frequently.
Our cohort of fellows also attends a series of four intensive workshops during the four-month fellowship period. We cover topics including leading as a woman in a male-dominated field, networking, creating and maintaining professional social media profiles, resumes that work, public speaking, personal presentation and comportment, and discovering personal strengths.
Finally, our advisory board – pictured above – works to connect the fellows with women in our local community who can serve as personal and professional resources. We help them set up informational interviews, encourage them to reach out to community and business leaders, introduce them formally and informally to women who have established themselves as leaders in government, business, the arts, health, all sectors of working life. We also serve as a sounding board, talking with them about their fears and dreams, questions and ideas, and making sure they feel supported and encouraged every step of the way.
By working with a small cohort – 10 fellows, 10 mentors – we are able to be agile and focused, adjusting to the needs of the women who are working their way through the program. By the end of those four intense months, we really are a family.
Is this program really effective?
Sounds great in theory, right? But does LOTT really change lives? Transforming young women into confident, self-aware potential leaders? I’ll let the women who have worked as mentors and fellows answer that question:
“It was a powerful experience to be a fellow, surrounded by women who wanted to support me and see me succeed. Seeing the paths that other women leaders have taken and learning about the experiences of my peers made me consider my own career path and see my own potential more clearly.”
-Kristi Kehrwald, 2011 Fellow
“The most rewarding aspect of the LOTT program is working one-on-one with fellows who are bright, motivated and enthusiastic about embarking on the next big steps in their lives. The LOTT program provides an invaluable forum for leadership and learning for mentors and fellows alike.”
-Rackel Kraker, 2013 Mentor
“LOTT has brought together a diverse group of women and provided a platform to further develop our individual strengths and encourage one another to pursue our goals. It has been life changing and I will be forever grateful for this opportunity.”
-Anna Hardeman, 2013 Fellow
What can I do?
We are currently working through the Minnesota Women’s Consortium to support and expand the LOTT program, but due to our own emerging nature, LOTT is currently based in the Twin Cities only. It is my hope to expand the program quickly and open more chapters both within Minnesota and outside of our home state, but for the time being we are keeping it local.
If you are in the Twin Cities (or surrounding areas and willing to commute in for programming) and you are interested in becoming a mentor or fellow, we are recruiting for both right now!
- Learn more about becoming a LOTT mentor (application deadline September 13, 2013)
- Learn more about becoming a LOTT fellow (application deadline October 11, 2013)
As we are newly on our own, we are also fundraising to cover the small but important costs of running this program. This program is completely free to the fellows and entirely volunteer-run, but even with 100% board donation support we are shy of meeting our program expenses. We also hope to utilize any additional funds to offset legal costs and aid in expanding the program beyond our home city.
We are not kidding when we say every little bit helps! Tax deductible donations in any amount at all are welcome and appreciated.
We would also love help spreading the word about our program. Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, send our website to any women in your life who might be able to join us, support us, or spread our message further.
When will this program be available in my area?
I will absolutely keep you posted, friends. Right now, this program is a life-changer. I have watched our fellows enter fearful, confused, and eager to learn, graduate informed, prepared, and excited for the future. But I want to see LOTT become a world-changer. We need more women in leadership positions in every corner of every industry, at every level of every government, and all across the globe. And I have every intention of doing my part to make that a reality. Your support now will help make this possible, your participation now will pave the way for the fellows and mentors to come. Thank you in advance for anything you can do to help us equip emerging women leaders with the tools they need to build a better tomorrow.