Congratulations are in order for all of us, P.O.W.E.R. members. Since Fidelity launched the P.O.W.E.R. program January 1, 2018, we— all of us together, and each of us as individuals— have become an increasingly important line of business for the bank.
It was only three years ago that Fidelity’s Chief Marketing Officer, Tammy O’Shea had a hunch that a business banking program catering specifically to the needs of entrepreneurial women would take off; since then, our community has proven her right. From the program’s early days, us P.O.W.E.R. members have been intentional about supporting each other: buying products and services from our fellow P.O.W.E.R. members, learning from each other, and using the network to find mentorship and advice. We’ve formed a really nurturing community that includes not only our members, but the amazing folks at Fidelity Bank who work with us. As a community, we’ve been around to support each other in tangible ways on days of celebration and when gathering strength for rocky roads ahead.
The narrative around business that many of us grew up with highlighted the direct relationship between bold, masculine, strongmen, and their ability to decisively negotiate favorable deals. It is these manly traits, the stories say, that have enabled them to leave behind great legacies and lasting institutions. Today, P.O.W.E.R. members are living a different narrative, a new one that our children will see and grow up with. Our stories show that the qualities that make a person successful are not tied to gender. Moreover, integral to the P.O.W.E.R. philosophy is the idea that we rise by lifting others— not every negotiation has to be a competition.
Reflecting on her goals for launching the P.O.W.E.R. program and the experience of seeing it blossom and grow, Tammy O’Shea states “As Madeline Albright famously stated, ‘There is a special place in heaven for women who support other women.’ That is what P.O.W.E.R. believes. We need to reverse the mean girl stereotype and that women don’t support other women. Women benefit from collaboration over competition and the research shows women who support other women are more successful in business. It is a great joy to watch organic friendships and business opportunities arise from the opportunities our P.O.W.E.R. network brings forth.”
Now, three years post launch, the P.O.W.E.R. community has shown how vital our contributions are to the economy. We are job creators and non-profit leaders and innovators who develop valuable intellectual properties. We create the culture that defines New Orleans, we erect buildings that change skylines, we build bridges— literally and figuratively— near and far. And, it’s worth noting, that while the program centers the needs of women-owned businesses, it is open to people of all genders who believe that a more equitable business landscape is one that creates more opportunities for everyone.
On September 4th 2020, our relatively young program welcomed our 1000th member; since then we have continued to grow. For those of us already part of the community, its appeal is no surprise. Our network is a great source of both moral and economic support in a turbulent time when many of us feel isolated and anxious about the future: after all, who wouldn’t want to be part of this amazing, supportive, inspiring community of folks who put their money where their mouth is?
So P.O.W.E.R. members, as we kick off the P.O.W.E.R. three year anniversary celebrations, we’re starting by congratulating you for all the amazing work you’ve done in your own businesses and your enthusiastic support of your community. Additionally, this is the perfect opportunity to offer our gratitude to Tammy for creating this program, and to congratulate her on the success of her vision.
Finally, as we kick off our P.O.W.E.Rful anniversary celebration, we also are thrilled to recognize the great accomplishments of Liz Broekman, who has worked alongside Tammy to turn the P.O.W.E.R.ful dream into a reality. Many of the 1000+ members of the program know Liz personally; she’s been tireless in her efforts to connect with the P.O.W.E.R. community to ensure that members’ needs are met and to encourage us in all that we do. She’s done this work so exceptionally well that our community is now one of Fidelity Bank’s marquee business programs and the bank’s top executives believe we need a Vice President of our own to help to program continue to grow. It’s no surprise that they wisely picked Liz Broekman for the job.
To those of us who have had the privilege of knowing and working with her, Liz is clearly the woman for this job. We’ve seen her spearhead creative and fun ways to promote individual P.O.W.E.R. members, to connect us to each other, and to create opportunities for us to give back to our community. It’s clear that she brings her whole heart to this work and has a great deal of love for this community and its members. Asked about one of her most P.O.W.E.R..ful P.O.W.E.R. memories, Liz notes that for her, “one of the most memorable P.O.W.E.R. highlights was onboarding the women of NOLA Craft Culture. These women had looked at other options, but found a home here! When they came to us, we knew that glitter and feathers would be a huge business in New Orleans and they soon became the most popular glitter decorating business in our city!”
Like so many P.O.W.E.R. members, Liz has learned a lot through her relationship with program. Reflecting on these lessons, Liz stated that “since launching P.O.W.E.R., I have learned that the program sells itself, but that living a P.O.W.E.R.ful life is ongoing. It is a 24/7 job to live P.O.W.E.R.’s mission, and when you love what you do, it really isn’t a job right?” As for what’s next? “What I see on the horizon for P.O.W.E.R. is growth of businesses that are already engaged. And, it’s important to us to continue to bring about awareness of diversity in the workplace.”
So readers, on the heels of the exciting announcement of Liz’s promotion and to mark the occasion of our three year anniversary, we want to take a moment to celebrate and offer our congratulations all around: to Tammy, who has seen her vision realized in such a significant way, to Liz whose invaluable passion has been a major factor in P.O.W.E.R.‘s growth (and who, we’re happy to say, gets to keep her “Director of P.O.W.E.R.” title when she adds “Vice President” to her email signature) and to all of us, who, through joining forces, have shown the bank and the business community just how powerful we are!