Tell us about yourself.
My name is Shantell Malachi and I?m the Founder & Executive Director of Dress for Success Central Virginia a nonprofit that promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, career development, and a network of support and resources. Prior to launching Dress for Success Central Virginia, I worked in Human Resources for 8 years before deciding to use my skill set to help women advance in the workplace.
What is the focus of your work and the need you are addressing?
The focus of our organization is helping women find employment and build rewarding careers. Our clients have been negatively affected by today?s job market and face circumstantial challenges in finding a new position. Our programs help raise their chances of success in a competitive job market.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
I truly believe that when women thrive, communities thrive. Most of the women we serve are mothers, caregivers, and the glue that holds their family together. There is nothing more rewarding than knowing that we have a hand in ensuring that she can successfully provide for her family.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.
Since opening our doors in 2013 we have provided close to 400 women with professional attire and/or career development tools. Over 30% of those women have reported that they have successfully gained employment and are coming back to Dress for Success to take advantage of our employment retention programs.
What are some major challenges you have faced and how you handled them?
One of our major challenges is space! Our operation has grown so rapidly that we have outgrown 2 different spaces in two years. This makes it difficult to serve the influx of clients we?re currently seeing but with the help of some amazing volunteers and organization experts we are doing our best to maximize our current space and are creating a plan for future space.
What is a lesson learned in this position?
I?ve learned that building a strong team is extremely critical in this sector. Being connected to the movers and shakers and givers in this city has made all the difference in the success of our organization.
What?s coming next for your organization that really excites you?
We are expanding our Career Center programs and offerings. Our Career Center is an initiative that promotes confidence and professionalism by providing women career guidance, the chance to acquire technology skills and technical assistance in their job searches. In the coming year we will be incorporating Success Without Barriers, a program designed especially for ex-offenders as well as the increase of several workshops and seminars.
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
ConnectVA is our go-to resource for all things nonprofit in this area. We have used ConnectVA to secure event space, connect with volunteers and donors, as well as stay in the know about funding and/or learning opportunities.