Kim Shumpert has worked in the public, private and nonprofit sectors over the past two decades in a variety of jobs from marketing a construction company to raising money for Bethel Bible Village. But she says a common thread through her career has involved equipping people for success.
"There is no better feeling than watching people reach their fullest potential, and I have always had a passion for helping women and children," she says.
As the executive director for the past year at the Chattanooga Women's Leadership Institute (CWLI), Shumpert is eager to help more women of all ages and occupations improve their leadership skills and influence at work and in the community. The CWLI, a nonprofit group with over 600 members, was created in 1996 to do just that.
Shumpert said studies indicate the typical woman in the workforce leaves up to $750,000 of earnings potential on the table by not seeking or taking promotions or taking advantage of other job opportunities through their career.
"If we can mobilize that sort of earnings potential for our economic development in Chattanooga, what a catalyst that would be," she says.
CWLI is broadening its training, networking and mentoring efforts to aid women at all stages of their lives, from beginning to top executive roles and from corporate and nonprofit management to entrepreneurship and startup ventures.
Three years ago, Kim and her husband Brad moved back to Kim's native Chattanooga from central Arkansas, in part, to have a better place to raise their two daughters. Since returning to Chattanooga, Shumpert has served on the board of directors for the Southeastern Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals and got involved in CWLI to both improve her own leadership and networking skills and to help build a better future for her daughters.
Shumpert previously headed two other community and education groups in Jonesboro, Arkansas, and took on her third executive director role at CWLI in May 2018 when she succeeded Holly Ashley at the institute.
"We want CWLI to be the premier resource for preparing talented women to enter, re-enter or advance their careers and grow into the leaders our workforce needs," she says. "There are so many women that I interact with that are in transition and are trying to figure out what their next move is and they need a space where they can work through some of that."
Shumpert said most women are already leading in their families, at work or in community or volunteer roles.
"We exist to empower them in those roles and to make sure they are functioning at the highest capacity that they can," she says.