The evening of November 30th, prolific history was made in Chicago as the 40 Under 40 Young Women Professional League (YWPL) inducted a new class of 40 women into the organization. Most attendees naturally assumed that they were showing up to witness their loved one receive an award. However, they left with inspiration, a call to serve and enough Black Girl Magic to carry them into the new year! With this organization, a win for the women is a win for so many others around them.
The 40 Under 40 YWPL is a network of young professional African-American women who support the holistic development of girls and women as future leaders through service and philanthropic endeavors. The women are selected because they have made noteworthy strides in their respective industries and are leaders amongst their peers. Since it’s inception in 2015, the League has bestowed the honor upon 120 women, gifting them beautiful medallions to mark the occasion. However, the annual awards ceremony is only the beginning. The women immediately dive right into the service missions of the organization. Through the League’s programming, there are opportunities to serve high school girls through the young women. For example, a young lady enrolled in The College Connection program can receive support by way of care scholarships, care packages, internships, prayer, and much more for her full college matriculation.
No SiSTAR Left Behind
Though there is an intense focus placed on addressing the needs of the underserved. The founder, Cheresa Purnell, has not forgotten about the development of the awardees. In fact, the honorees attended a leadership retreat and orientation a few short days after their induction into the League. This is to ensure they are equipped to carry out the mission of the organization. Additionally, women over the age of 40, or Gems as they are affectionately referred to, are brought in throughout the year to help shape the women’s leadership, personal and professional skill sets. Purnell and the 40 Under 40 operate under the mantra that no “SiSTAR” will be left behind!
I had an opportunity to speak with Purnell about her vision for this extraordinary movement of women. She was clear that what she has begun will reach far beyond the parameters of the greater Chicagoland area. “The vision for the League is that it will be a revolutionary movement. One that is globally recognized as a model for social change by honoring, developing, and supporting young women leaders. Leaders who impact the world through service and sisterhood.”
Purnell went on further to explain how creating something so powerful has even impacted her own 18-year-old daughter. “It’s such a joy to create something that my daughter can not only be proud of but also glean from. It directly connects to her journey. No matter what path she choices, she’ll have to face the transition from a girl to woman. I’m excited that I’ve built something that connects her to over 100+ women. Women who are great examples. Women who can be instrumental in shaping her to not just be a successful woman but also a servant-leader.
Being in the room to experience our sisters win and commit to helping someone else win is not soon forgotten. I think we can all be inspired by the 40 Under 40 YWPL to use what we have been gifted with to ensure that all the girls and women coming behind us win too!
To learn more about the wonderful things that the 40 Under 40 Young Women Professional League is doing, please visit their site.