By Laurel Thompson
Every day we are surrounded by successful women—the city councilwoman proposing new laws, the nurse working night shifts during a pandemic, the new mom jogging with a stroller and dog in tow. No matter how we define a woman’s success, behind her are dozens, if not hundreds, of others cheering her on, reassuring her there isn’t anything she can’t do. However, what if a woman lacks the support she needs for success?
Northern Colorado in particular is brimming with organizations run by women, for women. From childcare support to personal and professional development, here’s how four female-owned or -operated organizations are working to uplift other women in the community.
She Goes High
She Goes High hosts two free networking events per month that any woman can attend regardless of what she does or where she’s from. Founder and CEO Chrysta Bairre hand-selects speakers for each event to give talks on a variety of topics related to female empowerment in business and in life. “Even though we have a professional focus and do a lot of talks geared toward women in business, we take a much more holistic approach to supporting women than a lot of other networking groups do,” Bairre says. “We’ve presented on things like managing money, goal-setting and leading during times of change, but we also hold panels and workshops on various aspects of mental health, like body image and suicide prevention.”
In addition to these free events, She Goes High also offers Impact Memberships, a paid level that is available to any woman seeking a more immersive experience. Impact Membership includes access to six-week masterminds where members meet weekly to work on one professional goal, as well as quarterly deep-dive workshops where presenters dig into the implementation of each topic in a more personalized way. Impact members also receive discounted admission to the She Goes High Retreat and She Goes High Summit, two additional paid events that are open to the public.
“It’s really important to me that we remain accessible to all women at any point in their journey, which is why we don’t have a pay-to-play model where women can only attend our free events a few times before being forced into a paid membership,” Bairre explains. “Women go through ups and downs, in some cases divorce or financial hardships, or maybe they’ve just moved to town, they’re starting a business or they lost their job. We want to have some level that is accessible to women no matter where they’re at.”
For Bairre, She Goes High is all about making women feel valued, worthy and confident in all areas of life. The group’s mantra is that every woman has inherent value and that there is no right way to show up in the world if she remains true to herself. In fact, Bairre designed the organization with an introvert-focused approach that allows introverted women to thrive in a comfortable environment, rather than adapting to extroverted preferences (as they often do).“This is a place for women to come and practice taking up space without feeling like they need to put on a performance or get others’ approval in order to make a difference in the world,” she says. “Our greatest potential to have an impact and be leaders is through who we are, not who we aren’t.”
Northern Colorado Housewives in the City
Personal and professional networking go hand-in-hand for women in business, and now the Northern Colorado chapter of Housewives in the City is adding a third element: friendship. The group hosts monthly Girls Night Out Socials that are free and open to any woman who wants to join, from the stay-at-home mom who needs a night out, to the doctor looking to relax after a long day. Director of Marketing and Events Lisa Downer got involved with the organization in 2018 after more than 15 years traveling for work when she realized that she didn’t have many friends. She had been so busy juggling the demands of the corporate world and raising her kids that she rarely found herself in a place to meet other women naturally, and she was determined to change that.
“There weren’t a lot of resources for me to meet people, so I started doing something like this on my own where I brought together large groups and asked them to bring friends that no one else knew,” she says. “I saw so many women my age that didn’t know many other women and didn’t know how to go out and meet them, and then I discovered Housewives in the City as a way to organize more events for women of all walks of life to connect and interact.”
However, the monthly meetups aren’t just for socializing—they’re also opportunities for local women in business to share their craft. These members are what Downer calls “featured businesses” that can pay to have a table at events and do swag bag giveaways, in addition to being featured in a social media post on the chapter’s Instagram, Facebook and Twitter pages and in a blog post on their website. “I really like the concept of providing social media marketing for local businesswomen while also bridging the gap between online and real-life interpersonal communication,” Downer says. “You can do pretty much everything on social media these days, but nobody really gets to know you. People still want to do business with people they know and like, so for many of these women that’s a big part of what makes their business successful.”
WomenGive was established by United Way of Larimer County in 2006 when a group of women set out to fill a gap in services for single mothers in the area. After reaching out to local nonprofits and government programs, like the Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP), they discovered that one of the most significant barriers preventing single mothers from furthering their own education was the rising cost of childcare—an average of $1,187.87 per child per month for full-time, center-based care in Larimer County. While CCCAP covers childcare expenses for many low-income families, they only do so during working hours; in other words, there was little support for single mothers who were also enrolled in school and needed to attend class, study and contribute to group projects when they weren’t at work.
This caught the attention of the WomenGive founders, and they decided to do something about it. “WomenGive was started as a way to bridge that gap in childcare coverage so single mothers could go to college for the first time, or return to finish their degree,” says Madisen Golden, Director of WomenGive. “Our goal is to help single moms become more self-sufficient and provide financial stability for their children, which can change the trajectory for an entire family for generations to come.”
A lot of the program’s recipients are first-generation college graduates, and some are also the first in their family to graduate high school. In order to qualify for a WomenGive childcare scholarship, recipients must be the primary caretaker and make at or below 225 percent of the federal poverty level for their family size. This figure varies drastically based on the number of children and their ages, and whether the mother is enrolled as a part-time or full-time student.“
We have a calculator that bases scholarship awards on the number of hours our recipients are in school, so if they are a part-time student with a school-aged child, their award will be significantly lower than someone who is a full-time student with an infant. The hope of that is to cover the cost of childcare for each unique situation without our scholarships being a blanket award that doesn’t really meet the need,” Golden explains.
To date, WomenGive has awarded over 800 childcare scholarships for single women in Larimer County, thanks to more than 500 individual and business members who donate between $500 and $1,000 to the program annually. In the last year-and-a-half, WomenGive also awarded over $30,000 in emergency assistance to single mothers, which helped them with groceries, bills and transportation costs when childcare centers closed and work hours were cut due to the pandemic. For those who are looking to get involved, WomenGive puts on free fundraising events in the community, like their annual luncheon and spring social, to educate the public about the program and share recipients’ stories. The organization is also hosting WomenGive Night with sponsored tickets to the CSU
volleyball game on September 18, which anyone can attend.
Colorado Women’s Center
Mental health plays a major role in any woman’s life, and there’s so much to be said about the benefits of therapy in today’s world. But what’s even more impactful is the community of women supporting others navigating issues related to trauma, body image, postpartum, anxiety and depression. Kendra Miguez spent years counseling women in these areas before it dawned on her that many of them were experiencing the same underlying issues of low self-esteem that she had once dealt with herself. And the need for women-focused therapy was growing: the year was 2016, and she could hardly keep up with the number of women reaching out for help. So, she hired her first therapist and founded the Colorado Women’s Center in Longmont, followed by four additional locations in Fort Collins, Boulder, Denver and Broomfield. “I truly believe this is a time for women,”Miguez says. “We are breaking the stigma of mental health and going from ‘what’s wrong with you’ to ‘let’s work on what’s healthy about you and build on that.’ It’s amazing to see all of these younger women confronting their own self-doubt and building a more secure attachment to self so they can navigate the world from a more grounded place.”
In addition to one-on-one counseling, The Colorado Women’s Center offers couples therapy and empowerment groups for women and teens. The female empowerment groups meet for six weeks to work through common issues and share their experiences from a place of vulnerability and healing, while the teen empowerment groups are often focused on issues related to social media and insecurity. Colorado Women’s Center offers free consultations and will work with any income level. Miguez notes exercise is another big part of self-esteem that we often neglect, especially in groups, so she recently started organizing Yoga on the Lawn sessions at the Fort Collins and Boulder locations. The sessions are free, but if women want to contribute, the Colorado Women’s Center collects donations for the Emergency Family Assistance Association (EFAA), which helps provide single mothers and low-income families with food and shelter. “Women really tend to open up in group settings—it’s in our DNA,” Miguez explains. “It’s amazing how much better you can feel by being in a group of women and processing whatever you have going on in your life. It’s really important for women to come together and treat each other as allies and not threats, and to empower each other, because there are plenty of seats of success for all of us.”