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University of Missouri

Women Helping Women

MU student pilots Executive Women International‐Collegiate program.

EWI Conference

Lindsay Pierce, a junior journalism major at MU, presented the idea of a collegiate pilot program at the Executive Women International annual meeting in San Diego Sept. 18–21, 2013.

Lindsay Pierce thought she had done everything right in high school. She participated in the International Baccalaureate program, held leadership positions in extracurricular activities and logged hours of community service.

When a guidance counselor encouraged her to apply for a scholarship from Executive Women International (EWI), a nonprofit networking organization for women in the corporate world, she received the award from her hometown Tulsa, Okla., chapter and placed second in the national competition.

When it came time to apply for college, she was set on going to an Ivy League institution.

Lindsay Pierce

One of Pierce’s role models is Oprah Winfrey. When Pierce started EWI‐C, she “channeled [her] inner Oprah.”

But things started falling apart,” Pierce says. “I had to have a reality check. That’s not where I was supposed to go.”

It was the relationships she had formed with various mentors through the EWI scholarship that kept her focused.

They were always there for me, talking to me about the future and helping me figure out my next step,” Pierce says. “I realized how powerful that was.”

Now a junior at MU majoring in journalism, Pierce is piloting the Executive Women International‐Collegiate program at Mizzou. In September 2013, she attended EWI’s annual meeting and pitched the concept for the collegiate chapter, which would provide students with mentors from EWI chapters and focus on connections, careers and community.

Women like me need mentors like you,” Pierce said in her call to action.

More than 200 women signed up to be mentors. But there have been difficulties. A few naysayers had doubts about getting the program organized on campus.

There is a lot of pressure on our program to be successful,” Pierce says. “I have such a big vision in my head of where I want this program to go, but they’re looking at the tiny details.”

With the help of her EWI mentor Kim Fankhauser, an economic development coordinator at the Greater Des Moines (Iowa) Partnership and chair of EWI’s expansion and marketing committee, Pierce recruited the first 30 members of the Mizzou chapter this fall. She hopes to double that number during the spring 2014 semester.

Along the way, Pierce documents everything she’s working on so she can take the pilot program to campuses across the country. She’s gotten calls from women at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Washington and University of Hawaii who want to start chapters on their campuses.

I want EWI‐C to not only help women on Mizzou’s campus but also show them how to help other women,” Pierce says. This week, the women of EWI‐C are creating Christmas cards to send to girls who live in a Honduras orphanage. “This project is cool because we have mentors in a corporate position, but we’re also befriending and encouraging these girls in Honduras. It’s this chain of women helping women.”