Connecting with Coaching Circles
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Under Jennifer Cohen’s leadership and expertise, Women’s Philanthropy launched Coaching Circles in January with six circles that are comprised of one mentor and up to six members.
This six month program offers Jewish women a supportive and motivating environment to connect through meaningful conversations. Coaching Circles was created to give participants an opportunity to work with women leaders in our community to help connect and enhance leadership skills and talents.
Enid Rosenberg and Mara Kamat share their experience in this new Women’s Philanthropy program:
Last fall, Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Development Chair Jennifer Cohen approached us about a program that would give women a supporting and motivating environment to connect through meaningful conversations.
My fellow coaches Beth Wain Brandon, Reneé Chelm, Bonnie Marks, Sally Wertheim, Sandy Wuliger, and myself were invited to lead a circle. Thanks to Jennifer Cohen’s vision and professional skill set, we are able to offer women the following:
- Meet and establish new relationships with a diverse set of women
- Learn new skills related to leadership
- Develop an area that is current challenge that is related to career, community volunteerism, and/or work-life balance
- To learn more about Federation and identify areas to enhance engagement and involvement
Space allows for each circle to involve one mentor and six participants. Circles were created based on diversity in age, affiliation, women working inside and outside the home, and stage of life. Each session takes place monthly for 90 minutes over the course of six months, with the following agenda:
- Welcome & Check-In
- Program presented by mentor and then discussed as a circle
- Peer coaching
- Upcoming Federation activities and events
Sessions have included topics around building trust, leadership communication and its impact, asking powerful questions, and assessing, reflecting and prioritizing various aspects of life (e.g. family, community, work, religion, money, health & recreation, and personal growth).
As a mentor, I am able to share life experiences as a leader, but I am also able to have the good fortune to gather in the wisdom of the members of the circle. Every single one of them has added value and I know the other mentors would agree.
Our circle has taught me how a dynamic group of caring women can be helpful, objective, respectful, and coach each other with life’s experiences and truly bring a unique benefit to each other.
When I first saw the opportunity to be part of Coaching Circles, I stepped back and thought about it for a moment. I have a lot of commitments in my life; I am a HR Professional, I travel internationally quite a bit, I have two little girls at home, and I am engaged in the community. So when I heard about Coaching Circles, I thought to myself, “Mara what are you doing for yourself? How can you keep yourself energized and focused outside of the workplace?”
It’s been incredibly meaningful for me – more meaningful than I expected. If I look around the circle that I am part of, I did not know many of the women before I walked into that room. All of us come from very different backgrounds – some of us work, some of us stay at home, some are very engaged in the community. But all of us face different challenges in our life. We’ve been able to bring in those experiences to the circle and add value.
The thing I find most unique is that our session does not start and stop when you walk into that room. What’s meaningful for me is that we’re sharing best practices via email and articles that we’re reading. The topics that we cover in the session range from discussion gender biases, to leadership, to professional and personal development.
I had the fortunate opportunity to attend a Global Women’s Leadership Conference a few weeks ago and share some of the great learnings and webcasts that I walked away with from my circle. The circle has created a new dialogue and dynamic.
I want to thank Enid, as well as all the other mentors, who have really invested in the program, who care about the mentees, who make time to do it. It has been so meaningful. I’ve been part of these groups before in my professional life, and to be honest, they have not been as meaningful or diverse. I think this is a program that we should continue. I am very passionate about it and I personally found value in it.