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From Our Founder

"If you change a woman's position economically, you change her whole household."

-Juanita Ingram, Esq.,
Founder & President of Board of Directors

Greetings,

 

Thank you for connecting with Dress for Success Chattanooga. It is an honor and indeed a privilege to serve as Founder and Board President and provide you with a brief overview of our history and where we are going.  

I started my journey with Dress for Success in the United States in 2008, serving as a model for various fundraising events and a dressing volunteer. Since then I have served in numerous volunteer capacities over the last 14 years. In 2013, while residing in London, I received a call from the past Worldwide CEO asking for my assistance in re-establishing the presence of Dress for Success in London. In 2019 the London affiliate won Best Affiliate of the Year, and I continue to chair the board of the London operation. We know that Chattanooga will grow to be extremely successful thanks to the hard work of our volunteers, corporate supporters, and Board of Directors.

 

I still recall the first client that I served. Her name was Tina, and she had overcome a great deal of adversity. She was a domestic abuse survivor and homeless. Her strength and tenacity, coupled with the support she received from Dress for Success, led her to full-time employment and a new lease on life due to her economic independence. Countless experiences like this continue to compel me to support our volunteers' work.

Whether coming from a sensitive background such as Tina or simply being out of work for an extended period of time, the women we serve are brave and determined to change the trajectory of their lives.  When the economic crisis of 2008 hit, the company I worked for at the time downsized its entire legal department. It was unexpected and extremely upsetting. Consequently, I know what it is like to apply for numerous jobs weekly. I know what it is like to give your all to a job and for no fault of your own, suddenly find yourself without employment.  I understand, and I am committed to being an agent of change for as many women as we can reach.

 

While the demographics of the women we serve vary greatly, one common thread that connects all of us is the experience of unemployment and how it affects our self-esteem. We want to be the network of support that enables women to get back into the workplace and do so with newfound confidence.

The process of starting this affiliate began in 2018, and we were approved to bring the affiliate to Chattanooga in late 2019. We launched virtually in April 2020, determined not the let the pandemic stop us from accomplishing our mission of helping women throughout the Chattanooga area. We are excited about our phased physical launch in July 2022, and we remain focused on continuing the legacy of helping unemployed women succeed at their job interviews and ultimately find economic independence. We have the benefit of being an affiliate of a large and well-established worldwide charity organization, present in 144 offices and 23 countries, which has existed for over 25 years.

We focus on giving clients a dignified experience when they walk through our doors. Unlike others who provide similar services, we offer our clients a differentiated experience where dignity, respect, and self-worth come together to build confidence, self-efficacy, and self-esteem while they are on the road to economic independence. We are unique in our globally established brand, partnered with our local understanding of our clients and supporters.

Each affiliate of Dress for Success is a stand-alone organization with its own board of directors and operational staff.

While our current Chattanooga affiliate is successfully navigating our ever-changing world during this start-up phase, we are grateful for the ongoing support from our Worldwide organization and sister affiliates as we continue to leverage a global platform that provides for shared learnings, best practices and global corporate social responsibility opportunities.

Thank you again for connecting with us, and we look forward to continuing the work we do to see women thrive and succeed in Chattanooga.

Signed,

Juanita Ingram, Esq.

Founder & President of the Board

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