On November 28, 2017, ULI’s Women’s Leadership Initiative partnered with Spark Program to host a Lab for girls from Blaine Elementary, a co-ed K-12 school in Strawberry Mansion.
Melissa Govette of M&T Bank, a ULI member and Spark Program board member, welcomed the students in a conference room overlooking the Philadelphia skyline at their Center City location. Spark Program’s mission is to help bridge the gap between the students in underserved communities by partnering with a variety of leading corporations, giving a bird’s eye view of potential career options available to hopefully “spark” some ideas on careers for students to pursue.
WLI recruited a total of eleven mentors, who were generous with their time and eager to share their advice and experience with the girls. The Lab consisted of a variety of engaging exercises that mimicked real life work-related scenarios, using topics that were relatable to the students. Mentors included:
Steven Anastasio, Engineer, Bala Consulting Engineers; Lindsay Bodin, Project/Property Manager, AthenianRazak; Patricia Elkis, Director of Planning, Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission; Bryan Fenstermaker, Executive Director, Passyunk Avenue Revitalization Corporation; Eric Goldstein, Executive Director, King of Prussia District; Melissa Govette, Relationship Manager, Commercial Real Estate, M&T Bank; Susanne Hanson, Director of Business Development, JDavis Architects; Sylvia Kline, Project Manager, AthenianRazak; Stacey Mosely, Founder & CEO, FixList; Jessica Taylor, Director, Villanova School of Business, DiLella Center for Real Estate; and Josh Weingram, Vice President of Development, Liberty Property Trust.
The goal of the first exercise was to improve public speaking. The students and mentors were broken up into small groups. Afterwards, they went a around and briefly spoke on topics such as their favorite food or vacation destination, without using fillers such as “um or like.” There was a dramatic improvement in the mini speeches by the end of the exercise with the use of advice offered by mentors.
In another exercise, everyone was asked to line up side by side. The group leader read a series of statements and if they agreed with the statement, they stepped forward. The idea was to emphasize the importance of self-reflection and being comfortable with expressing themselves, without trying too hard to think about the approvals or disapprovals that are generally faced for teenage girls.
In the final exercise, a fictitious real estate project was read by the group leader. The girls were then asked to choose which action they would probably take in that particular situation. This exercise allowed them to visualize the type of leader they likely are, by sharing with the group strengths that they already have. The dialogue between the students and mentors allowed the girls to see that although the situations appear different, the actions required to handle challenges within a given a scenario are quite similar.
A big thank you to our ULI members for your time and supporting one of WLI’s endeavors to serve our local communities. Thanks also to Melissa Govette and M&T Bank for Hosting the workshop, and Allison Schapker for coordinating with Spark for making this program available to our members. To learn more about Spark and how you can be involved, please visit their website at: http://sparkprogram.org/ or contact Jordan at [email protected].
Beverly Buella is a self-employed residential real estate developer that has rehabbed properties throughout Philadelphia over the past 10 years. She is currently in the process of rebranding her company in order to reflect her mission, which is to enrich lives through socially conscious real estate development.