After a friend persuaded her to interview at Sprint — with the promise of Michael Jackson concert tickets no less! — Colette unexpectedly launched a career path that took her places she never imagined, including Central Exchange. Today, Colette works as the Chief Development Officer at Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center, fundraising for a new facility. During times of professional triumphs and challenges, successes and setbacks, Colette has relied on the community at Central Exchange.
“Central Exchange has been a lifeline for me,” Colette says. “It always has helped me re-engage myself, whenever I lost my way.” Central Exchange is where Colette turns for help, no matter what. Meet Colette.
Her Path to CX: Colette first connected with Central Exchange while she was working at Sprint. From those early days in the CX community, Colette remembers great programming, amazing food and the opportunity to rub elbows with the movers and shakers of Kansas City. “I just felt like Central Exchange was a really great place to be,” Colette adds.
When Colette lost her job at United Way due to organization-wide cutbacks, she turned to Central Exchange once again. “It was a really difficult time,” Colette shares. “I was a single mom, suddenly unemployed, an empty-nester and home alone.” When a friend suggested Colette apply for a Central Exchange scholarship, she promptly did. “I cried during the interview,” Colette remembers. “It was the most unprofessional thing! But it was a turning point for me. Central Exchange got me back on track. It was a reason to get up, get dressed, have a good lunch and meet some great people.” Soon after coming back to Central Exchange, Colette landed her next job.
Central Exchange’s impact on her career: Colette has turned to Central Exchange time and time again. “It’s always been my fallback group,” Colette says. While working at Samuel U. Rodgers Community Health Center, she was unexpectedly asked to establish a community garden.
“I had no idea what I was doing!” Colette remembers. “I’m not a gardener and I was supposed to build this huge community garden. So I met with ladies at Central Exchange and we brainstormed how I could get this going. Those who knew a lot about gardening came to meet me and helped me organize the garden. That garden is now an amazing part of the health center and helps patients get healthy, fresh food. It all started from the help I received at Central Exchange!”
Memorable lesson: From Central Exchange, Colette has learned to try everything. For every program she thought might not apply to her, Colette found concepts and people worth connecting with. “These programs just expand your mind,” Colette says. “I encourage women to just try things out, even if you don’t think you’ll like or need it. These lessons will help you in ways you don’t expect.” The lessons and relationships Colette gains always come to help her in the end.
Favorite Central Exchange program: Colette was struck by a Central Exchange Courageous Conversations program she recently attended, “Can Black and White Women Be Friends?” In the safe CX environment, Colette learned how to speak the truth about different stereotypes and define friendship in a number of ways.
“That program was very impactful to me,” Colette notes. “As a person of color, there are times you feel like you don’t fit in. That conversation helped me break through what I was feeling and how to navigate some of the challenges you experience as a minority. Central Exchange is truly for all women. They reach all members in special ways through their programming and that helps me feel like I really belong.”
Meaningful connections: One of Colette’s favorite parts about Central Exchange is the ability to network with such amazing women. Colette loves connecting with different members over coffee and seeing them at events. “There are a lot of members who I feel like are my peeps,” Colette jokes. “They’re just my girls. It’s so great.”
Final word: Central Exchange will always be Colette’s lifeline. “Central Exchange helps you realize it’s about your whole person, not just professional development,” Colette explains. “It’s making cookies and doing art projects too because it affects your whole persona. It’s about who you are as a woman. Central Exchange sees all parts of your soul.”
Many thanks to Colette for being a beloved member of the Central Exchange community. There is a place for every woman at Central Exchange. You belong here! Register for one of our many upcoming programs.
Since 1980, women like Colette have come to Central Exchange to empower their career — and their life. Meet more of our unparalleled members.