Today we’d like to introduce you to Shantera Chatman.
Shantera, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I started The Chatman Women’s Foundation (TCWF) 10 years ago after volunteering at a women’s shelter. I taught Assertiveness once a week and that has morphed into something I believe is truly beautiful. At the time my organization’s name was the Annual Women’s Empowerment Conference since that is the service I provided. After 6 years of hosting the conference, I realized that I wanted to be able to contribute more. I wanted to provide support in a different way and possibly have a bigger impact. I changed the name to The Chatman Women’s Foundation so I could have more freedom to create more substantive programming for women.
The basis and/or premise behind TCWF is that the synergy of society is a direct result of the overall health and wealth of the woman. Which means, in order to thrive as a society, we have to ensure our women thrive. TCWF wants to ensure women understand their power and their ability to change the world by simply residing in that place of power. We call it PowHer. It is a woman’s ability to act upon anything she so desires. We instill and cultivate PowHer through mentoring events and tabletop discussions that help women to thrive and grow.
The proceeds from those events are put toward scholarships for women in the community that are building businesses, continuing their education or even those ladies in transition and trying to leave a shelter. I am so proud of the community we have built that services itself. There are no egos at a TCWF event. We are all there to help one another be great. Throughout my 10 years of building and working within this organization, I have grown as a person, a businesswoman and a leader. I am helped just as much (if not more) as those I help.
Has it been a smooth road?
The journey to this place has not been easy. Understanding that philanthropy (especially grassroots philanthropy) is often a very lonely road, I believe God gave me the vision to create TCWF. I sometimes struggle when I speak to women about the foundation and what it does for the community only to find their disinterest. I wonder why they are not interested in helping themselves and others like them. It is something I may not ever know the answer to but will continue to work so I do my part to help them see their potential; even if they do not see it themselves.
One of the toughest parts of building a non-profit organization is the fundraising.
Companies and people do not give like one would expect. It is very much a “who you know” situation often times. There’s lots of networking, door knocking and grant writing to only receive a small amount of funding. I have to continue to tell myself that lack of funding does not mean my organization is not worthy or that there is no support for what I do. The question then becomes, “How will the ladies get their scholarships or how will we fund the mentoring events if we do not raise enough funds”? Where there is a will, there is a way. There are times the Chatman household funds more than I would like, but there are times when there is more than enough funding to support the women seeking our support. Philanthropy has to ride the wave of the economy.
Another obstacle I have had to overcome is not being “cool” in the eyes of today’s social media, fair-weather supporters. The funds we raise do not go toward celebrities and shopping sprees. They are for women in the community looking for a leg up but in order to provide that leg up, we have to appeal to as many as possible for donations and participation in events. It’s a balance between empowerment, support and entertainment. Most days it’s exhausting but in the end, it’s worth it.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with The Chatman Women’s Foundation – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
The Chatman Women’s Foundation is all about empowerment or our PowHer. We are extremely proud of the atmosphere of inclusiveness that is created at all of our events and that all are welcome, even men. This year we are addressing some of the pretty big issues and looking for new ways to solve the problems. We are inviting men to our table for discussions about harassment, the salary gap and more.
When most people hear the word empowerment, they hear group hug. When I hear empowerment, I hear strength and support and perseverance. These are things that are needed both at home and in the workplace. I love that TCWF supports women both at home and at work. We focus on the entire woman. It is very difficult for a woman to separate herself from home and therefore should not be asked to do so just because she has a job or runs a business.
She must figure out a way to make it work. TCWF helps women make it work and find that balance. I am proud to support women in all aspects of their lives. The willingness to listen and provide advice as a woman makes a decision about a career move is just as important as helping a woman develop a family budget. It is that willingness that sets up apart from most organizations. True mentoring that is bound only by the women in the mentoring relationship is what we are about.
Let’s touch on your thoughts about our city – what do you like the most and least?
I was born and raised in Houston. I love the diversity here. I can learn about any culture just by stepping into a restaurant. This city is resilient. Our ability and willingness to help others was tested during Hurricane Harvey and we showed this country how to join together. Our sports teams are top notch and we are setting the standard in several industries including medicine and energy.
Houston could definitely use a break from the construction. Because we are so great, we are busting at the seams and working hard to grow. Unfortunately for those of us who live in the city, it is extremely difficult to navigate the construction and the subsequent traffic.
- Website: chatmanwomensfoundation.org
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @powherful
- Facebook: The Chatman Women’s Foundation
- Twitter: @TCWFEmpower