Founding SiOP Core Leader
Melissa Hewitt was one of the founding core leaders of SiOP. She joined the core at a time when she was undergoing a leadership transition as Executive Director of a philanthropic institution. Melissa brought vision and shared values to a diverse group and helped to seed and grow the vision of SiOP. We are excited to witness her journey from non-profit leader to a small business owner helping to strengthen the field.
Check out her company: Forward Movement Consulting.
”SiOP provided an opportunity at a critical time in my personal and professional life to reflect on my core values of who I am and to articulate how I would like my personal values to show up in my professional life. I was educated and trained to run a nonprofit organization, to implement the best practices and to know the best structures and processes that might lead to success. SiOP taught me that even with all of those skills, trainings, and experience, if I was not able to fully bring my whole self to the work, my success would either be short lived or take too much of me that my spirit might be dimmer after I was done. The members of the SiOP founding core are still present in my life and I still owe a great deal to them as we worked, laughed, healed, and grew from the experience. SiOP encouraged me to discover and stand in my true and authentic leadership and I have never looked back. I am bolder, unapologetic, vulnerable and I center my work in love and in truth. And, yes, I so much more of a leader now than I was before.Melissa HewittFOUNDING SIOP CORE LEADER
Forward Movement Consulting provides client-centered services for dynamic social justice organizations seeking to achieve greater impact for marginalized communities, especially communities of color. Based in the Washington DC metro area, Forward Movement Consulting (FMC) boasts a team of women of color whose experiences and expertise center women and embraces a racial and social justice lens that affirms the intersectionality of every individuals’ lived experience. With a strong base of clients and partners that value work on the grassroots level and the connection to regional and national agendas, FMC seeks opportunities to strengthen the capacity of nonprofits in the South and uplift the leadership of women of color.
SiOP Train-the-Trainer Participant
Hope Lehman joined SiOP as a participant in our 2015 Transformative Leadership Institute (TLI). She was inspired and supported to leave a toxic non-profit job and pursue her passion as a social entrepreneur. Today, she thrives through two businesses that center women of color. Hope is also a current participant in SiOP’s Train-the-Trainer program where she’s learning the SiOP model and further developing her entrepreneurial entities.
”My experience at the Transformative Leadership Institute retreat in fall 2015 was life-changing. At the time, I was working for a national tech education organization that was running me to the ground physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I was also neglecting my passion project started in 2014 -- a small business entitled Fresh to Def Collective. I applied to SiOP because I knew I needed a change and support to build up the courage to make that change. The program pushed me to face myself and evaluate why I was making the choices I was making. I worked with powerful women of color all over the country going through similar experiences. We had a safe space to laugh, cry, scream, yell, and play. A space that did not exist for many of us at home or at our jobs. I found grounding in the fact that I was not alone and that there was a powerful group of women like me committed to social change. This gave me the courage to do what I already knew I needed to do - quit my job.
In fall 2017, at the Train-the-Trainers retreat, I had a deep realization that I did not trust myself or my own intuition. I was so attached to what others thought, constantly searching for validation in professional spaces. I left with a life-changing lesson - that "I am free and I do what is best for me." It was not only ok to prioritize myself, my passions, my dreams - but necessary for my mental health and life purpose. I recommitted to figuring out what I wanted and after a year of one on one coaching with Taij - I faced myself again and took the leap to focus on my dream of becoming a full-time entrepreneur and business owner. As a result, I now work full time for my business Fresh to Def Collective, a social justice accessories and business coaching social enterprise for women of color and my second business, Just BE, a Black Women's Entrepreneurship Network. I was able to raise $20,000 in growth capital for Fresh to Def in June 2018. I would not have been able to accomplish this goal without the grounding and support of SiOP. Every time I take a leap and step into courage, I know I am not just doing it for myself, but for all the women I met and continue to build with at SiOP.Hope LehmanSIOP TRAIN-THE-TRAINER PARTICIPANT
We produce social justice accessories and business coaching to inspire social change + honor women of color. Our goal is to build a movement of outspoken social change makers through art and entrepreneurship. We are ending a culture of silence and growing a culture of equity with everyday people.