Amy Blaisdell is a Coachella Valley native who moved back to the desert six years ago from the Bay Area. She serves as Communications Director for the City of Palm Springs and is the newest president of Women Leaders Forum (WLF) of the Coachella Valley. A former print and television news journalist in San Francisco and Palm Springs, Amy serves on many committees in various organizations, including Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce ATHENA Awards; Palm Springs Festival of Lights Parade; and Palm Springs Mayor Steve Pougnet’s “Healthy Planet, Healthy You” Race and Wellness Festival, in partnership with the Clinton Health Matters Initiative. She was also the marketing lead for the recent Palm Springs 75th anniversary celebration and is the founder of WLF’s hugely successful Women Who Rule! Awards Luncheon and Scholarship Fundraiser, which this year will honor local philanthropist Donna Mac Millan, Desert Healthcare District CEO Kathy Greco and Fashion Week El Paseo organizer Susan Stein.
Amy Blaisdell has been a member of WLF since 2009 and became of member of the Board of Directors in May 2012. Amy holds a B.A. in Communications from Saint Mary’s College of California and a M.A. in Broadcasting Journalism from San Francisco State University. She also serves on the Board of Directors of FIND Food Bank of the Coachella Valley.
Amy, congratulations on being named president of Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley (WLF)! Can you please tell me a little about WLF—specifically founding, vision and mission?
Amy Blaisdell: Women Leaders Forum of the Coachella Valley was founded in 2001 by Indian Wells Mayor Mayor Mary T. Roche. Her vision was to create an inviting forum with the mission of empowering and serving women leaders of all ages and backgrounds in our community. To date, WLF has awarded more than $250,000 in college scholarship funds to the best and brightest members engaged in our Young Women Leaders Mentoring Program seeking higher education — and last year we raised more than $100,000 in scholarships the most ever in the history of WLF. It’s been a transformational year — and our upcoming season of inspiring and educational programs and events is sure to be the best yet!
In addition to the forum WLF provides women, you also provide training and mentoring for young women students. Please explain.
AB: That’s right! WLF has a very successful Young Women Leaders Mentoring Program, which kicks off in November. It’s open to female high school students from every school district in the Coachella Valley. The program pairs each student with a member of WLF who mentors them in a field in which they have expressed interest. The girls also learn important leadership and public speaking skills. At the end of the year, many of these students are eligible to receive a WLF scholarship.
Do you have community partners in funding and/or staffing these initiatives?
AB: Yes indeed! When it comes to distributing scholarship funds, for the past several years, WLF has partnered with Pathways to Success, a division of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership. Last year Pathways provided WLF with a $50,000 matching grant—and thanks to the huge success of our inaugural “Women Who Rule! Awards Luncheon and Scholarship Fundraiser along with generous contributions from local community leaders like Jim Houston, Harold Matzner, Helene Galen, Donna MacMillan and many more, WLF raised more than $100,000 and distributed 22 scholarships. We have a lot to celebrate!
In addition, WLF is thrilled to announce that our Young Women Leaders will partner this year with the ClintonFoundation Health Matters Initiative to promote health and wellness in our community, a cornerstone of the Coachella Valley Economic Partnership’s Blueprint and now an important initiative embraced by the forum. Our young women serving as “CV Health Matters Ambassadors” will promote healthy living and food choices throughout the year at a host of important community events and in their local high schools.
In addition, WLF is continuing wonderful community partnerships with FIND Food Bank of the Coachella Valley, the Ophelia Project, Saks Fifth Avenue and Eileen Fisher.
WLF has a lot of great events coming up this season: a fall kickoff at Saks Fifth Avenue on Sept. 26th and the Desert Women’s Show Business Conference, featuring keynote speaker Suzanne Somers. Can you tell me about some of these events?
This is the 2nd year in a row we have produced our fall fashion night with Susan Stein,fashion editor for Palm Springs Life, and it has become our signature fall kick off event. This event is just for members and a guest and everyone loves it! It’s a wonderful way to reconnect with old friends after the summer and always a real treat to hear from Susan about what’s hot in fashion.It’s a fun and fabulous party, but you can’t attend unless you’re a member! Anyone interested should visit our website and join today. Annual membership is just $100.
Also in November, WLF is proud to have been chosen as the charity to benefit from the Desert Women’s Show Business Conference, featuring health and wellness entrepreneur Suzanne Somers as keynote luncheon speaker, Somers, a local resident for many years, is renowned for her business savvy in the health and wellness community and is sure to inspire! Tickets are selling fast! You can purchase yours by visiting our website and clicking on Desert Women’s Show.
Tell me about your 2nd annual Women Who Rule! Awards Luncheon and Fundraiser (scheduled for Jan 31, 2014)
Kate, this was our most successful event last year, raising more than $100,000 for scholarships—and it will be even more amazing this year as we honor three visionary community leaders making a difference in the Coachella Valley: local philanthropist Donna MacMillan, Kathy Greco, CEO of Desert Healthcare District and Susan Stein, fashion editor of Palm Springs Life and creative director of Fashion Week El Paseo. These three inspiring women are perfect role models for the accomplished members of the forum and the young women we mentor. Tickets are $65 for members and $85 for nonmembers and all proceeds benefit WLF scholarships.
How can more women get involved in supporting the programs of WLF?
If you’re a woman and a leader, we invite every woman in the Coachella Valley interested in helping other women to get involved. We are always looking for new members to serve on committees and in particular to be a mentor to one of our young women leaders. I can’t stress enough how important it is for these young girls to spend time with their mentors and to hear their stories of success! The mentoring program is truly life-changing for both the mentor and mentee—and it’s wonderful to see these girls grow and evolve throughout the year. There’s no better feeling than knowing you’re making a difference in someone’s life! For more information about membership or becoming a mentor, please visit our website. We need you!