Jen Abott identifies herself as an idea person, feeling like she can lack the courage to make her dreams a reality.
One dream, filled with many what-ifs, gave her the courage she needed to create something with the potential to change many lives.
What if we could bring amazing leadership programming to women who don’t normally get that in their business setting? What if we could do it for an affordable price? What if she could then donate all the money to a local nonprofit that supports other women?
Abott founded Women Empowering Women in Leadership, WeWil, in 2019 with a mission to empower women employees and entrepreneurs with professional development, growth and connection.
She couldn’t do it alone, though. She brought together a team of seven other women who felt her dream was a much-needed resource.
“This group of women here did not know each other they would pick because of their gifts and talents and three and a half years later, here we are,” said Abott.
The Santa Clarita Valley-based WeWil’s leadership team is composed of the following: Chelsea McBride, Helen Fournier, Jackie MacDougall, Abott, Jenny Ketchepaw, Michelle Simmonds, Nickie DeTolve and Renee Spieckermann.
WeWil hosts workshops for women to attend to gain resources and learn more about the professional world they are a part of.
“When I first joined, I found myself thinking I was joining to mentor other women,” said Fournier, “and then I discovered that along with the rest of the group, we benefit from it every bit as much if not more.”
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, WeWil’s workshops had to start online. According to Abott, this ended up being a positive as they were able to reach an international community with their mission.
On March 8, International Women’s Day, WeWil was finally able to hold its first in-person event. The event encapsulated the spirit of the day as all sponsors were women, all raffle items were donated by women and the event itself was held at a woman-owned location.
“Just so thankful that I get to be a part of something so in a way groundbreaking,” said MacDougall.
The event had the following as honoree presenters: Kim Goldman (victim rights advocate), Dawn Walker (president of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and Di Thompson (chairperson of the Black Business Council).
Each woman shared their story of advocacy and courage in a brief question-and-answer session.
The event was sold out, and as Ketchepaw joked, even oversold.
“I don’t want to dream of where it could go, at this point, because it’s already happening naturally and that’s where it should go,” said Abott.