Forward, March!

0316womenforwardCindy Johnson, M.Ed., CPCC and Nancy Almaleh at Jewish Federation & Family Services (JFFS) are empowering women to make changes in their lives. At transitional junctions in their lives, women over 40 are getting a chance to reinvent themselves through the unique and innovative Women Forward Career Coaching program. The program, designed to provide coaching and support in securing employment and conquering long-term financial independence, also provides a no-cost speakers series. Entitled “From Ordinary To Extraordinary: Turning Challenges Into Opportunities,” the series will begin March 6 and carry on through September 2016. Speakers this year include Fortune 500 company executives, authors and members of law enforcement among others.

The Women Forward event happens thanks to Johnson, Coordinator, Career Coaching Programs and Almaleh, Case Manager. Both have had a consistent presence in the program and have years of professional experience. Johnson, a certified career and life coach has extensive experience in leading university, corporate and outplacement agencies. Almaleh, who provides financial coaching to participants, brings an extensive background in job development, community resources and financial literacy. And it is more than career and financial coaching, says Johnson, “Women Forward is not just about learning business or job search skills, although these tools are used. It’s not just about solving problems, although problems get solved. It’s not just about attaining goals, though this certainly happens. The heart of the program is about discovery, awareness and making positive choices for forging a new path forward.”

The women who benefit from Women Forward are diverse, and represent a wide swath of age, ethnicity, culture, background and experience. While most clients are women in their mid to late 50s, clients range from 40 to 73. The challenges of participants include everything from divorce and loss of a loved one, to domestic violence, health issues and long-term unemployment. Most women are seeking full or part-time employment, but some have developed a micro business or expanded an already existing business. Women in the program may also benefit from other wrap around services, such as counseling and emergency financial assistance, that help to bridge the transitional gap.

Women Forward has enabled women to grow not only financially, but emotionally. Almaleh and Johnson both convey that it is a privilege for them to coach women who are often in a scary and vulnerable place. “I become very excited when a client tells me how she reduced a bill and used the savings to start an emergency fund. It’s wonderful to see a client take control of her financial life!”

Funding for the Women Forward Program comes from the Marisela Foundation, which has enabled the Women Forward Program to continue to provide career and financial coaching to women over forty years of age who are working to be gainfully employed.

For more information on the Women Forward Program or to attend the career coaching seminars at no charge, contact JFFS at: (949) 435-3460 or go to familyservicesoc.org/employment/women-forward.

Lisa Grajewski, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist and adjunct Assistant Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She has been a contributing writer for Jlife magazine since 2004.

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