After more than 20 years in IT, Carla Williams-Evans found herself facing a season of transition. Learning that her department wouldn’t survive her organization’s recent merger put her in a challenging new situation. “That’s when I really started thinking about what’s next,” Carla shares. “Did I want to remain in leadership, go out on my own or do something totally different?” As she started exploring her next steps and took time for personal and professional self-care, Carla turned to Central Exchange. It’s where she’s found the inspiration to explore her next chapter. Meet Carla.

Her path to CX:

Being laid off was a shock for Carla, who always thrived in team leadership throughout her career. Both in the workplace as a manager and at home as a mom, Carla was a pro at taking care of others. “But I realized it was time to start helping me. I needed to take the time to decompress and reflect: what is it that really defines me? How do I want to define myself going forward?” Carla had attended the Leadership Lyceum many years ago when her previous employer sponsored the event. Out of her desire to find inspiration, she decided to register for the 2018 event and go on her own. Carla took advantage of the Lyceum’s first-year membership promotion and officially became a member of Central Exchange.

Central Exchange’s impact on her career:

Carla joined Central Exchange as she focused on both her professional and personal self-care. “I attended almost every Central Exchange program I could!” she says. At Central Exchange, Carla got the insight she needed to move forward from that challenging career point. “Central Exchange introduced me to women who’d been in the situation I was in and gave me the validation that it was going to be okay,” Carla notes. “Being exposed to women who decide to leave Corporate America and go and do their own things is awesome and helps me recharge professionally.”

Central Exchange’s impact on her personal life:

Through Central Exchange’s calendar of workshops and events, Carla has gained knowledge that has helped her in all areas of life. “Just being exposed to the workshops helps you become better at whatever you’re doing,” Carla notes. She’s also gained skills she can apply in her community volunteerism.  “I’m able to be a better Board member of the philanthropic organizations I’m a part of and expose them to what I’ve learned and tools that can help us give back to the community.”

Memorable lesson:

Becoming a part of Central Exchange was a lesson in putting herself first. “Our muscle memory is putting our kids first,” Carla explains. “I was a cheerleader for my family, and now they are my cheerleaders. Investing in myself is something I never knew I needed. Through Central Exchange, I’ve learned to be present and to really put myself first.”

CX leadership skills:

From a SkillPath workshop, Carla found nuggets of knowledge to help her continue improving as a leader. She was reminded and instructed how to be a better listener and wait to understand what people are saying before forming a response. “Central Exchange offered confirmation for me that I was a really good leader. That workshop helped me to be a better listener and that can help me be a better leader,” Carla says.

Favorite Central Exchange program:

Carla enjoys the intimacy and engagement that comes with CX Special Interest Groups. The first Special Interest Group she attended was a Referral and Resource Breakfast. There, Carla found a community in which she could ask for what she needed. Carla initially felt nervous to introduce herself because of the transitional state of her career, but expressing where she was enabled her to move forward and feel inspired by the support of her fellow members. “I always took care of other people and I was fulfilled by that,” Carla shares. “This was the event that helped me ask for what I wanted.”

Connections across generations:

Becoming acquainted with women in the early stages of their careers filled Carla with an infectious spirit of ambition. Marissa Anden, Founder of Nektar Juice Bar, is one of these positive influences. “Marissa is a joy whenever she walks in the room,” Carla says. “She’s like a recharge because she’s so excited about her new venture, it’s infectious.” Katie Dixon is another memorable CX connection of Carla’s. “She’s going for her dream,” Carla notes. “That attitude inspires me. Every now and then we’ll ride together to CX events and have tea or coffee.” Seeing these women go after their dreams helps Carla develop a can-do attitude as she takes the next steps toward a new career.

Final word:

In one word, Carla describes Central Exchange as welcoming. “The people who are part of Central Exchange are so supportive and welcoming,” Carla says. “They help you in ways you didn’t think you would need. Central Exchange will be part of my life forever. It means a lot to me. I had no idea I would feel that way about an organization — it’s the people.”

Thanks to Carla for being a dedicated, uplifting member of Central Exchange. Join together with women like Carla and achieve your full potential. You’re welcome here! Register for one of our many upcoming programs.