Supporter Spotlight: Taina Estremera

WOMEN'S WAY
WOMEN’S WAY

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WOMEN’S WAY wouldn’t be where it is today without the support of our staff, Board, committee members, donors, partnering organizations, Young Women’s Initiative (YWI) members, grantees, and community. In our Supporter Spotlight Series, we are highlighting the individuals who have helped shape WOMEN’S WAY into the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading non-profit organization dedicated to advancing gender and racial equity.

We recently had the opportunity to sit down with one of our amazing Board Members, Taina Estremera. In this interview, Taina shares more about how her direct involvement with various programs at WOMEN’S WAY has shaped her goals as a current board member and offers recommendations on how to get more involved.

How did you first hear about WOMEN’S WAY?

Taina Estremera (TE): About six years ago, I attended a WOMEN’S WAY brainstorming session that my sister invited me to. This session eventually led to the creation of WESI (now known as the Gender Wealth Institute). At that time, I was offering direct therapy and supervising therapists, so I went into the brainstorming sessions at WOMEN’S WAY with the idea of bringing back resources for my clients and staff. Then, the Financial Coach Training Program (FCTP) came about. I also went into this program thinking of my clients and team. However, upon completion of the program, it hit me that I was here, participating all along in these programs, not just for my clients but for me. And this was a total mindset switch.

I applied the skills I learned from FCTP to help almost every woman in my family and guide us through the trauma that we all had because of this shared connection to financial insecurity. Really being able to identify those behaviors with FCTP made me realize how big of an impact this program was having. It made me loyal to WOMEN’S WAY because it gave me so much. I was able to get back in control of my life and that’s not something you can repay. After that experience, I was all in.

You also participated in the Change the Narrative Fellowship program. Can you share a little about your experience and takeaways from that program?

TE: The Fellowship was a very intense program. I had to be really vulnerable throughout it. One takeaway was realizing I had so many stories to tell. I was one of the many who continued to change my story until I felt like I finally had the right one. Also, the environment created by the amazing facilitators felt safe and the other women who were in the program were so supportive, so the experience was very validating and empowering.

The Fellowship program was a huge emotional breakthrough for me because I felt safe to process and become more open. And, I had a whole cohort of other truly amazing women who were supportive throughout the process. When I see the new Fellows each year, I feel a sense of pride. I’m so happy especially when they finish the program because I know exactly what they just went through. I hope they feel as proud of their work as I did and still do.

(You can watch Taina’s Change the Narrative Fellowship story here.)

What has it been like to be a WOMEN’S WAY Board Member?

TE: After the Fellowship, board membership was brought up as an option to stay engaged and involved with WOMEN’S WAY. Even though I felt like I was no longer eligible for WOMEN’S WAY programs, I didn’t want to be done with WOMEN’S WAY, so my goal as a Board Member has been to give back. While I still don’t have a lot to give materially and financially, I can contribute my experience and professional expertise. In my role as a board member, I am committed to being a voice for the Philadelphia community, for the other ladies from the Community Conversations, for the rest of the Fellows, and for the other women of color in this city.

I also bring with me my professional experience as a behavioral health professional. I remember distinctly when I was interviewing for the board that I wanted to bring a trauma-informed lens to WOMEN’S WAY and make sure that the initiatives we were doing were focused in that way. Whenever I introduce myself in board meetings, my favorite part is being able to introduce myself as someone who has completed the majority of the WOMEN’S WAY programs. I take pride in those experiences.

Where do you believe WOMEN’S WAY is making the largest impact in the region?

TE: I have watched WOMEN’S WAY grow and develop the courage to disrupt the status quo and not settle for an answer just because that’s what it’s been for so long. We’re a model for what it’s like to engage within the community in an equitable and inclusive manner. I’m inspired by WOMEN’S WAY every day to ask the hard questions and I now ask other organizations to share their strategies for inclusion, wellness, and equity. WOMEN’S WAY’s transparency makes them authentic and, as a result, people who know WOMEN’S WAY know that WOMEN’S WAY is the real deal.

What are your hopes for WOMEN’S WAY long term?

TE: I hope for increased awareness and growth for WOMEN’S WAY. As people become more familiar with the organization, more work will be needed, requiring more staff. I would love to see the team and programs grow so that we can support more women and partner with even more community organizations.

How would you encourage others to get involved with WOMEN’S WAY?

TE: There are many ways to support, even without funds. That’s something I like to remind people about. I think that sometimes people hear donations/fundraising and it brings up anxiety or they don’t want to get involved because they don’t want to feel ashamed. Even sharing information about WOMEN’S WAY is a big way to support the organization. Also, get familiar with our programs and educate yourself so you can start to determine how and where you might fit in with WOMEN’S WAY. There are multiple ways for people to get involved. My biggest recommendation is to get curious and just get involved!

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WOMEN'S WAY
WOMEN’S WAY

WOMEN’S WAY is the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of women, girls, and gender equity.