Leading in Central MA: Girls, Inc. CEO Victoria Waterman
Monday, August 19, 2013
A Conversation with Victoria Waterman
SW: As CEO of Girls, Inc., you are charged with helping girls develop into successful women. Can you talk a little about your mission and the organization?
VW: Girls Inc has been serving girls in grades K-12 in Worcester County for 96 years. Our mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold. We offer quality research-based programs in a safe environment and provide opportunities for girls to take healthy risks, build leadership skills and master physical, intellectual, social, and emotional challenges.
We are the leading national expert on girls’ issues and house the largest, most comprehensive research center on girls in the country, at the National Resource Center (NRC) in Indianapolis. Because our core programs are researched, developed and piloted by the NRC, Girls, Inc. provides the highest quality, cutting edge, and age appropriate programming available to girls in the Greater Worcester area.
SW: What special programs or services do you offer the community?
VW: Girls, Inc. is a special place where girls choose to come and participate in enrichment programs and are given the tools, opportunities, and encouragement to grow. Girls explore fun activities with friends and discover what makes them smile in cheerfully decorated spaces and age-appropriate groups: swimming, dance, theatre, expressive arts, science/math and related technology activities, nutrition & fitness activities, and much more! We serve girls from kindergarten to high school...and beyond.
SW: How did your career begin and where?
VW: My description for the career journey that I have taken would have to be serendipitous. I had no idea that the road I was taking would lead me here. For 20 years, I was in the mortgage banking industry in the marketing sector. One of my proudest accomplishments was creating “Divorce Mortgage Specialists”, a program and network of professional women that aided women going through divorce. It was through this process that I my passion of women helping women was born. However, like so many others, I was a casualty of the downturn in the industry.
SW: What led you to your current career path?
VW: I shifted my career in a new direction, and joined Leading Women as president of the Massachusetts affiliate. Leading Women is a global company that provides leadership experiences for women. Having an interest in empowering the next generation of women leaders, I also accepted the role as board president of Girls, Inc. Last year, when the CEO position opened up, I threw my hat in the ring and here I am!
SW: Can you describe a typical day in the life of Victoria Waterman?
VW: Completely nonstop! It is exciting to be in an atmosphere filled with girls. I provide direction, move things forward, and spend a lot of time strengthening relationships. No two days are the same and I leave every day feeling both exhausted and exhilarated–it doesn’t get better than that!
SW: What would you like most to communicate to girls and young women in Central MA?
VW: Keep in mind the goal of becoming strong, smart, and bold. Reach out and find the mentors that you need along the way. Getting good at asking for help is a valuable skill. Look for role models that you can learn from. Take the time to learn leadership skills and the importance of giving back to the community. Most importantly, take care to make good choices.
SW: What accomplishments are you the most proud of at Girls, Inc.?
VW: One of the ways I measure my success is by living up to this definition “Leadership is using the greatness in you to achieve and sustain extraordinary goals by engaging the greatness in others,” by Susan Colantuono, CEO of Leading Women. By engaging the greatness of my staff, I like to think that I have created a culture with a leadership focus, accountability, and a positive learning environment. I think it’s all about strengthening relationships that results in an effective team–staff, board, volunteers, community collaborators, supporters, and more!
SW: What are you working on now?
VW: It is so exciting to be working on our 100th anniversary celebration. We turn 100 in 2016 and are on the ground floor of our planning our next 100 years.
SW: What is the something that few people know about you?
VW: I am a life long learner and avid reader. I feel so fortunate to be where I can contribute as well as learn.
SW: Any special plans for the future?
VW: Our youngest daughter graduated this spring and is getting ready to go off to college. As much as I will miss her, I am also enjoying this phase of just spending time with my husband. We are taking our first 7-day vacation in years and going to Aruba.
As far as my career, every day I feel like this is the place that I belong. I am enjoying being right where I am.
“There is nothing so powerful as a new idea in the hands of a first class entrepreneur.” With more than 25 years of leadership experience, Susan Wagner has been known for driving events, initiatives, launches, and openings through her company SusanWagner PR. In this challenging economy, she has begun a new division to offer affordable start-up packages to new and emerging small businesses and non-profit organizations that include professional writing services, websites, collateral, marketing, social media grassroots outreach and regional PR campaigns.
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