Saturday, June 03, 2006

WoMentoring Program Honors Women in the Workplace

CONTACT: Christina Lemon
Office: 818.986.7733 Cell: 818.438.8184


From manicurists to Mayoral aides, women have one thing in common

(Los Angeles) What do a single mother, an aide to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and a manicurist have in common? They were all helped by JVS' innovative WoMentoring program. Since its inception eight years ago, WoMentoring has assisted more than 150 women in finding fulfilling careers with the help of professional mentors. On June 7, JVS will celebrate the accomplishments of this year's participants with a special luncheon beginning at noon.

Both Debbie Phillips and LaShauna Earl were single mothers, working as manicurists at a local salon, and feeling like they were going nowhere with no way to support their young children. With help from mentor Frances Greenberg, they got an insider's view of the real estate industry, learned how to network, and have launched their own real estate business.

After many years of devoting herself to being a wife and mother, Allyn Levine wanted to rejoin the career world. Although she had participated in numerous volunteer activities, she felt very unsure of herself and her skills. With the encouragement of her mentor Jan, she completed classes in computers and office procedures, and even interned at the Los Angeles Daily News. Today, she is happily employed as an executive assistant/events coordinator with the United States Container Corporation in Vernon.

JVS COO Claudia Finkel founded the WoMentoring program to help women like Phillips and Levine. “Most successful business leaders credit a mentor for helping them get where they are. We wanted to give that experience to women who might not have access to that kind of support, women who are just returning to the workplace after years at home, women who are new to the job market, or women who are looking to change careers,” said Finkel.

Funded by Union Bank and the Powell Family, WoMentoring aims to help participants achieve at least one career milestone -- such as a promotion, completion of a training program, obtaining a key interview or landing a job in their field of choice.

Continuing a trend from previous years, JVS' WoMentoring program is also seeing more and more participants who are leaving high-pressure industries for careers in the service or non-profit arenas. Women like Lori Waldmen, who is pursuing a new career in the field of Educational Therapy, or Elannah Cramer.

Nearly a year ago, Elannah was in a devastating car accident that left her with severe nerve damage and brain trauma. But Elannah regards the accident as a blessing in disguise, giving her an opportunity to rethink her career choices. Paired with Dr. Morgan Hakimi, who has a Ph.D. in Organization Psychology, Elannah is pursuing her options in that field.

"This program really is a lifeline for women no matter what stage of their career, from those just starting out to those who are seeking a career transition or an entirely new direction," said Finkel.

It definitely proved a lifeline for Fortuna Ippoliti, a former WoMentoring client who re-entered the workforce after staying at home to raise her two daughters. Fortuna, recently honored as an Employee of the Year at JVS' Strictly Business Luncheon in May, currently works for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as his West Valley Area Representative.

If you are interested in becoming a mentor or mentee, please contact Bobbi Yanke at 818-464-3222 or Rachelle Cohn at 323-761-8888, x8876.

For more than 75 years, JVS has enhanced hundreds of thousands of lives with vital employment and career services. Each year, JVS helps more than 24,000 people through 15 locations around the Southland. A non-profit, non-sectarian organization, JVS works with city, state and county agencies to ensure everyone has access to the help they need, including career professionals, at-risk students, people with disabilities and newly arrived immigrants.


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