Week 3:
Wonderful Women

Massey Fellow in Development & Civic Empowerment

The Obama Foundation | Chicago, Illinois

January 27, 2019

Just as I spent my Tuesday night celebrating women, I would like to spend this post publicizing the professional help I received from three specific women recently.

Before I even arrived to Chicago, I spent my last Cornell block in my Sociology Senior Seminar, where each student produces a capstone project. For my project, I created and wrote sections of a grant proposal.

Firstly, I’d like to note that the Sociology and Anthropology departments at Cornell are extremely thoughtful and intentional in their creation of the Senior Seminar. Not only do students create a capstone project, but other assignments include opportunities such as networking events, career exploration readings, graduate school application help, and plenty of peer revision time. The course is designed to sincerely benefit seniors at this crossroads between graduation, graduate school, and career. I am proud to be a part of these departments, and this course was one of the best preparations I received prior to this internship.

Throughout my process to create a mock grant proposal, Julie Barnes, the college’s grant writer, assisted me in numerous aspects of my project, and I am now feeling confident in my knowledge that I gained from my time with her. Julie and I worked through different grant applications, compliancies, and proposals to find a mock proposal that would make a meaningful project. She devoted numerous hours to me, both walking through past applications, current proposals, and editing my drafts, and now that I see this work in action, and I participate in grant writing daily, I can’t think of a more productive way to have spent my Senior Seminar. I am grateful for Julie Barnes, who helped me construct this confidence that allows me to work with grant proposals daily at the Foundation.

The co-op space is filled with happy reminders and affirmations, like this one.

On Tuesday evening I was invited to attend a Changemaker Chat at the evolveHer space in River North. Immediately upon walking into the space, I felt a positive and bright energy, fueled by the ideas and words of women. This networking event offered the space to mingle and connect with other working women, but centers on a singular speaker and her story. On this particular evening, the speaker Alicia shared her identity that sits between a corporate title and her gender identity. After years in a corporate environment, she transitioned to an entrepreneurial project, opening the evolveHer space, aiming to create an environment that lifts and shares the voices of women. After the chat and lecture, I met a woman working as a fundraising consultant. I enjoyed speaking with her because her fundraising work isn’t specific to a region, corporation, or strategy, but she’s adaptable and moves her talents to fit the needs of any nonprofit. I like this. I like the flexibility and talent it takes to be so versatile. And in chatting with her, I quickly created a new goal for the semester. I would like to be that versatile, on a micro scale of course. I won’t leave with the years of experience that she’s had. But I can gain an understanding of everything that falls under the umbrella of development. That’s a new goal of mine.  And this is a basic goal, but it’s one that I previously could not have articulated. So I’ll be working with as much as I can, everything from Salesforce to events to prospect research. I don’t want to shy from anything.

The wall of the co-op space was covered in these drawings of women.

Lastly, my coworker and mentor Dana was the person who invited me to attend the Changemaker Chat with her. Over and over, the speaker mentioned the importance of providing space for women to speak and be heard, and standing up for each other. I am appreciative of Dana for thinking of me for this event. I recognize that I’m eager and excited, and would have attended any number of events with her, but this Chat was particularly interesting to help me frame my work and voice in a new work environment.

To close, I’d like to extend my gratitude to these three women for preparing, guiding, and supporting me. I’m looking forward to the powerful people I will interact with in the upcoming weeks.

Elizabeth Mombello '19

Elizabeth is a sociology and Spanish major from Overland Park, Kansas.