Women of Color Leadership Program
The second year of Women of Color kicks off this month. WOC is a leadership program to enhance professional development through mentoring opportunities for women of color who live or work in Pottawattamie County. Building off a pilot program that launched in 2022, the initiative is designed to provide access to professional development and coaching opportunities to support leadership growth and a sense of belonging in the community for women of color.
What is the program?
The program will be led by Dulce Sherman, owner of Sherman Executive Consulting. Each participant will work directly with Dulce through monthly coaching sessions to develop a personalized leadership growth plan. Along with quarterly networking meetups with other program participants and access to resources and supports to help achieve leadership growth
“Vibrant communities require leaders who bring innovation and diverse approaches to problem-solving,” said Brenda Mainwaring, President and CEO of the Iowa West Foundation. “To be successful as a community, we all need to be engaged in creating a place where people love to live. Iowa West Foundation strives to empower organizations and individuals to achieve their big community dreams. We do this not only through grants but also by building confidence and capacity in individual leaders, especially among those who are underrepresented. The Women of Color Leadership Program is an important addition to Iowa West’s support for next-generation leaders and new nonprofit CEOs. I extend my appreciation and thanks to the eleven exceptional women who have agreed to contribute their time and energy to this program and to the future of our community.”
About Dulce Sherman
This year’s program will be led by Dulce Sherman, owner of Sherman Executive Consulting. Dulce Sherman is a first-generation Latina whose immigrant parents taught her the importance of helping communities. Dulce is passionate about giving back, leadership development, and the community and is a true champion for women of color. She’s strategic, focused and brings years of extensive leadership experience. She has a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management, a master’s degree in Management and Organizational Development, and a graduate-level certificate from the Fielding Graduate Institute. Sherman holds 35 years of HR and leadership experience in both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. She is a graduate of the Lead Diversity program, the Nonprofit Executive Institute, and the Dougherty Foundation’s Team LEAD program.
She brings years of extensive leadership experience to the table and include the following opportunities at no cost to the participants:
- individualized monthly coaching sessions to develop a personalized leadership growth plan;
- quarterly networking and learning meetups with other program participants; and
- access to resources and supports to help achieve leadership growth
Mia Silva Laustrup, director of the STARS scholarship program administered by the Council Bluffs Schools Foundation, said being a part of the previous cohort was a great experience.
“What I look forward to most this year with the program is continuing to build relationships, build my network and identify my strengths. Women of color need to be heard and seen to have opportunities in higher-level positions. Today we are seeing the removal of barriers that exclude underrepresented populations from having a seat at the table and I am thankful that Iowa West Foundation is responsive to that need in our community.”
Additional participants selected for the 2023 cohort include:
- Melyna Avalos, All Care Health Center
- Keshia Bradford, Doctors for America
- Vanessa Dobles, Union Pacific Railroad Museum
- Dae Isaac, Together, Inc.
- Paulina Gonzalez Pichardo, Kiewit, Inc.
- Jacqueline McCloud, Council Bluffs Community Schools – Carter Lake
- Lucia Rodriguez-Alvizo, CHI Health
- Mia Silva Laustrup, Council Bluffs Schools Foundation – STARS Program
- Dominique Smith, NP Dodge
- Maria Torres, Pottawattamie County Public Health
- Alejandra Valdez, Viva Fit Kitchen
The goal of the program is to foster opportunities, participation, and impact of women of color in leadership and change-making positions in Council Bluffs and Pottawattamie County.
“It’s a dream to be able to journey alongside such a strong group of women,” Sherman said. “Together we will discover their innate talents, move into action, and understand how their influence can impact community outcomes.”
Director of Communications