So, who is the woman behind the pink curtain in Charlotte? It’s Stacy Cassio — Founder & CEO of Pink Mentor Network, Charlotte’s largest female mentorship mission. Originally from rural Kansas with no idea what she wanted to do when she grew up, Stacy says she has never met a woman she couldn’t learn from. Moreover, she believes that every woman deserves a stage, a microphone, and an audience. After building a nonprofit to share that message with others, it’s obvious Stacy’s not in Kansas anymore. She’s building her own community.
Pink Mentor Network was launched out of Stacy’s necessity for female mentorship. As a new product development director for a manufacturing company, she was responsible for leading an all-male team of engineers in a male-dominated organization and industry. Unable to find the guidance she needed, Stacy invited like-minded women who expressed similar needs.
After the first gathering in 2017, the monthly dinner meetings grew into a full-time gig and evolved into Pop-Up Mentor, her current “Plug & Play” mentorship platform. It provides a safe place for meaningful conversation about approaching shared challenges and career development. Since inception, Pink Mentor Network’s 4-6 monthly events have put the spotlight on over 200 female entrepreneurs, executives and creatives.
As this external network grows, so does career growth for its members
Recognizing the need for skill development opportunities, Pink Mentor Network is partnering with Charlotte’s top coaches & trainers to launch monthly “Level Up Workshops.” Another program, “6 Mentors Every Career Needs,” equips members with who to seek to advance their careers, how to approach those individuals, where to find them and what to ask them. And, the network continues to evolve.
Why creating a mentor network is important in Charlotte
Stacy explained: “My last four jobs were opportunities introduced to me by a mentor. To be honest, I didn’t even know that I was qualified for them. But, my mentors did. And, they were right. Unlike friends or family, a good sponsor endorses your body of work [because] they are looking out for you as a professional.”
“When we get strategic about finding [mentors], we take control of [our] career path. A good sponsor can be the key to career advancement, unlocking opportunities & building bridges to transcend skill or qualification gaps. We [as a community] must get better at pulling up seats at the table for new voices and diverse backgrounds. My hope is that Pop-Up Mentor is an avenue of connection between [our work] experience and our future for the women of Charlotte.”
Given the growing influx of newcomers to Charlotte, this is pivotal.
HUG micro-grant provides recognition and 3 annual membership awards
Last December, Pink Mentor Network won a $250 HUG (Helpful Unfettered Gift) micro-grant from Charlotte Is Creative.
According to Stacy, receiving a HUG was “validation and encouragement that this mission is important to Charlotte’s future. We will always be grateful for the honor.”
In turn, Pink Mentor create a contest to award free memberships. They awarded three annual memberships out of the 50 applications — one creative, one entrepreneur and one mid-level manager, each seeking to grow their businesses and develop their careers
What’s next for Pink Mentor Network?
In Charlotte: Launching more career pathing tools for members, and partnering with our top employers to showcase new opportunities for professional growth.
Outside Charlotte: Building an online community & platform to scale this mission, and bring it to more cities.
Want to learn and lead? Ready to give and grow? Here’s how
Text MENTOR to 484848 to become a member or get involved by visiting www.pinkmentornetwork.com. You can visit them on Instagram (@pinkmentornetwork and @grandmakansas), on their Facebook page, or their Facebook group.
Last Thoughts from Stacy Cassio for Charlotte’s creative community
“There are no “work” hours, only hours of inspiration. Catch a creative flow and ride it out. Then, give yourself grace & rest when the ebb appears.”
Watch Stacy’s Pitch Pink Mentor Network on “Entrepreneurs in Elevators”
HOW CAN I GET A HUG GRANT?
HUGs are $250 micro-grants awarded to individuals or organizations (for-profit or nonprofit) working on creative initiatives that are open to the public in the Charlotte area. HUGs are “strings-free” and are intended to remove a small financial obstacle holding a project or a person back from realizing the potential of their idea. HUGgees (HUG grant recipients) are also eligible to participate in special training events and seminars throughout the year. Since 2017, more than 100 HUG micro-grants have been awarded in Charlotte. To apply for a HUG, visit www.HUGGrant.com.
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