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Hear Marga & Kate at TEDx Bethesda Women!

11 Nov

Screen shot 2013-10-30 at 12.22.52 PMkate-stevenson

TEDx is coming to Bethesda! EWI’s founder Marga Fripp and Kate Campbell Stevenson, EWI’s former board chair, are in the line up of powerful speakers for TEDx Bethesda Women.“Sassy: Lively and Spirited” will be explored by riveting women, focusing on women and about women’s issues. Jane Smith, owner of Still Sassy and ETS alumn, is the inspiration and lead organizer for the event.

December 5th, 2013
9:30A.M. – 4P.M.
Imagination Stage
Bethesda, MD

Buy your tickets here!

What is TEDx? TED brings together the world’s leading thinkers and innovators to share their ideas on a wide array of subjects including design, science, entertainment, business, development, and technology. TED speakers spark thoughtful discussions, make connections and get people talking. TED created TEDx, a local and self-organized version of the annual event with the goal of exposing their global audience to smart local thinking. TEDx Bethesda Women is one of many TEDx events happening around the globe on December 5 that will expand on the ideas brought up at TEDWomen.

“Our TEDx Bethesda Women’s line-up is a buffet of talents, struggles, lessons learned and bodacious risks. Each presenter will enlighten us with her unique style, story, and strength,” Jane highlighted.

We are incredibly excited and honored that both Marga and Kate have been invited to speak at TEDX Bethesda Women!

Don’t miss out on this powerful event. Seating is limited! Tickets are $100 for a full-day of presenters, including lunch, networking and more!

See you there!

Four New Faces: Meet EWI’s New Interns!

4 Oct

From left to right: Ciara Salg- Marketing & Communications Intern, Kim Booher- Program Associate Intern, Brenda Yoboue- Non-Profit Management Intern, and Tatiana Sandoval- Community Partnership Intern.

This fall, EWI is powering forward with the dedicated support of four new amazing stars: Kim Booher – Program Associate Intern, Tatiana Sandoval– Community Partnership Intern, Brenda Yoboue– Non-Profit Management Intern, and myself, Ciara Salg– Marketing & Communications Intern.

The interns have attended the University of Minnesota, Lock Haven University of PA, George Mason University, and American University. They come from three different continents and have lived in over 10 countries collectively. They hold a variety of knowledge and experience that they are excited to bring to EWI. Above all, the interns have a passion for giving back to the community and making a difference in the lives of women.

When I asked the other interns how their time at EWI has been so far I heard “challenging and intense but exciting and interesting” over and over again. Brenda, our Non-Profit Management Intern, elaborated that although challenging, it’s a great learning experience and is definitely not your average internship. I completely understood what Brenda meant by this. EWI allows you to learn and develop new skills, but also leverages all our strengths. Working with EWI is by no means your stereotypical coffee and copy making internship. The experience is hands on, challenging, and rewarding. When talking to Kim, our Program Associate Intern, she explained how nice it was to come into such a welcoming community. She continued with, “I appreciate the people I work with, am passionate about the EWI mission statement, and love the work I do.”  Tatiana, our Community Partnership Intern, continued by saying “My favorite part of the internship so far is the interaction I get to have with all the entrepreneurs. They are such a great group of women who all have amazing stories. It’s by far my favorite part of the job.”

Speaking on behalf of all the new interns, we are so excited to be working at Empowered Women International. We are all passionate about the work we are doing here and hope to assist EWI in continuing to empower women and making a difference in their lives.

 Written by Ciara Salg, Marketing & Communications Intern

My Day at the Alexandria DiverseCity Fest

27 Sep
Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

Entrepreneur Julie ready for an empowering day!

On Saturday September 14, 2013 EWI had the privilege of participating in the Second Annual Alexandria DiverseCity Multicultural Fest in Arlandria, Virginia. This event was designed to bring community members together and celebrate Alexandria’s diversity. “Nearly a third of Alexandrians speak a language other than English at home,” said Debbie Hodnett, festival chair. “The city of Alexandria is proud to celebrate these diverse cultures by highlighting the variety of music, dance, crafts and cuisines that make Alexandria so vibrant.”

Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry
Amoy showcasing her beautiful jewelry

As the new Community Partnership Intern at EWI and it being my first event I was thrilled to be taking part in such a culturally diverse festival; however what is a cultural fest without the culturally diverse artists and entrepreneurs of EWI and their equally diverse artifacts? On this occasion we were fortunate to have four of our Alumni with us which included Charmelle Clark, Mariam Mohamed, Julie Hyo Park, and Amoy Stephen, as well as our wonderful volunteer Su Hlaing Win Nu, who helped me make this event possible. EWI was proud to be there to support our Alumni and I was equally excited to be able to promote more awareness in the community about EWI and its mission.

Mariam keeping busy

Mariam keeping busy

When I first got to the festival I was nervous about what the day ahead would bring. It being my first time at an event representing EWI there were times when I questioned if I had what it took to share with people what a great organization we truly are. But working alongside such wonderful women, hearing their stories, and seeing their passions, I immediately realized how far dreams can actually go when you have the right tools and the right people by your side. At that point I wanted to get up on stage and let the whole fest know about EWI, but I held back only because Melodica Oriental, the Salvadoran and Honduran band was playing such a catchy tune that many were dancing and giggling, and that only made me the more joyful to be there!

Peruvian drumming !

Peruvian drumming !

The day could not have been any better. I enjoyed sharing about EWI and I enjoyed going around Arlandria and posting flyers, dropping of postcards, and even using my bilingual skills to let many shop owners know about EWI. Many of these show owners were very interested in our organization and shared with me their own stories and struggles about starting their own businesses, many exclaimed how helpful and less stressful it would have been to have an organization like EWI by their side back then.I was happy the day ended on such a positive note and happy I was able to take part in such an event. After such a wonderful experience I felt only the more empowered to take on the next event and keep spreading the word in order to help more dreams and passions turn into realities.

Written by Tatiana Sandoval, Community Partnership Intern


EWI Asks, “What Empowers You?”

10 Jul

EWI Asks, “What Empowers You?”

Empowered Women International sent a team to the World Refugee Day celebration in Silver Spring, MD after being invited by the International Rescue Committee, the host of the event. Represented by staff members Jami McDowell, Virlen Reyes, and ETS graduate Julie Hyo Park, EWI set up a booth and interacted with the individuals at the event.

We asked each person that visited the EWI table, “What makes you feel empowered?” We were surprised and inspired by the responses we received. Here are a few of our favorites:

“The awareness that I have a mind”


“My voice”

Here are some others we received:


What Empowers You?


One visitor to the EWI table says that “God” and “good people” make them feel empowered.

The table was visited by people of all ages and walks of life and EWI was impressed with the variety of things that people draw from to feel empowered, from music, to faith, to family.

While at our table visitors had the chance to engage with one of our recent Spring 2013 graduates and artisan entrepreneur, Julie Hyo Park. She taught how to make crocheted bracelets. When they were done, they were all given a small token, an empowerment stone. Upon receiving her empowerment stone, one little girl was curious (and serious) enough to ask staff member Jami if it really worked. Jami assured her that the stone would work if she believed hard enough.


We agree with Jami’s notion that if you believe in yourself you can accomplish anything, and with that self-belief you begin to adapt a feeling of empowerment. We want to thank that little girl for her courage and hope that one day all women will feel that sense of empowerment (whether they have an empowerment stone or not).

Written by Tess Stansbury, Non-Profit Management Intern

Alexia Takes Us Inside the ETS Classrooms

6 May

“Our students radiate energy, strength, determination, and hope…seeing them interact engagingly with the instructor, ETS grads and guest speakers is a powerful and rewarding experience!” Those are the words of our new Entrepreneurship Coach & Program Manager Alexia Muchisu Wendel, who, for the last three weeks has been attending our ETS classes in the Alexandria Durant Center.

Alexia Muchisu Wendel, Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi (Financial Empowerment Instructor) and Sharmila Karamchandani

With 22 students in both Alexandria and Bethesda classrooms, Alexia was able to assess and witness the full evolution of the students. While the topics progressed from simply conveying business ideas to managing personal finances (led by Tope Ganiyah Fajingbesi) and learning marketing strategies to understanding the process of story telling, the students were able to demonstrate a desire for knowledge and the capacity to absorb information useful to launching their businesses.

For the “Telling your Story” session, our former ETS students: Velma Crawford, Lyzbeth Monard, Elda LaRue, Alison Sigethy, and Kudzai Gombakomba were brought in as guest speakers to share their experiences after the program. All had extraordinary stories to tell; from personal struggles to professional triumphs they seem to have seen it all. One of the most beautiful things in life is the ability to turn the saddest story into a positive and rewarding experience, a story that teaches us that mistakes are only a learning process. Our grads have exactly done this and been there, and seeing the reception they were receiving from our current students demonstrates that human interaction coupled with great ideas can foment lasting partnerships and a solid flow of information ultimately leading to success.

Velma in the "Tell the Story" session

“Telling your Story” session with Velma and other ETS grads

According to Alexia, the driving force behind the success of the classes is our coordinator and instructor Sharmila Karamchandani, who infuses knowledge and experience into her teachings and shows a keen understanding of individual students struggles and potentials.

Kurdzai in the Bethesda ETS Class

Kudzai Gombakomba, ETS grad and owner of KG Spotless, telling her story in the Bethesda ETS Class

The collaboration among students is stellar, “It makes sense to hear different perspectives even when it’s not within the same industry” says Alexia. Working well together, students made agreements and friendships sprung. Just recently Alexia noticed how two of our students Julie Hyo Park and Angela Sargents (both in the crocheting & knitting industry) agreed to work together since one liked knitting and the other liked finishing products, hence an informal partnership was born out of a simple conversation.

ETS Grads Clementine (mentor), Elda, Lyzbeth and current student Floralba

ETS Grads Clementine Simmons (mentor), Elda LaRue, Lyzbeth Monard and current student Floralba Camargo

The classroom allowed them to break the ice, it became a platform for expressing their thoughts and ideas and the confidence is now ceiling high, our students are now few steps away from reaching the tip of the mountain.

Alexandria ETS Class

Alexandria ETS Class

With two months remaining towards graduation, with the support of our instructors, coordinators, mentors, trainers, and guest speakers and more, our students are ready to take over the world! Thank you Alexia for being there with our students, and thank you all who made this possible!


Marga Honored by the Board

5 May

At its last meeting, the EWI Board of Directors and Advisory Board honored Marga for her leadership and ten years of service to Empowered Women International.

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Board members Howie Feinstein, Ann Stone, and Kate Campbell Stevenson

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Board members Mimi Hassanein and Melissa Reitkopp

The board commissioned a handcrafted silver brooch symbolizing Marga’s often expressed “Onward and Upward” and presented a beautifully designed award made by our own Sharmila Karmachandani.

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Kate presenting Marga with a beautiful award, in recognition for ten years of extraordinary vision.

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Marga with board members Dianne Lorenz, Mimi Hassanein, Karen Kullgren, and Deborah Blank

A warm expression of appreciation to the board for bestowing such honor to Marga and a huge thank you for the board’s endless and tireless support to Empowered Women International!

ETS Students Share Their Vision

2 Apr

Last night I attended my first ETS class. It was to be a special one, I was told.  I went in partially unsure of what to expect but knew the ladies had some extraordinary talents to share that evening.  As the chairs slowly filled, our lead trainer Sharmela gave an opening speech on how meaningful that evening’s session will be for the women.  The goal was on guiding them to materialize their ideas into concrete business-oriented concepts that can lead them towards entrepreneurial success.


To do that, their homework assignment for the evening was in presenting their vision boards that they had created. A vision board is basically an image-filled platform where they would lay out their ideas, aspirations, inspirations, goals, approaches, tools, and so much more, whatever they want to add to make their dreams a reality.


A few of the vision boards

The homework brought out the best in everyone; I was pleasantly surprised at the amount of energy, inspiration, and talent I was witnessing. As our first presenter Kira laid out her graphic digital artwork, it was clear that the women had all it takes to be both artists and entrepreneurs. From Sarah’s framed butterflies, to Annette’s foam doll displays, and to Cleopatra’s striking quote from her own self-published book, one by one they were unveiling their business ideas, displaying before our eyes boards and cutouts filled with beautiful, artistic and creative images.


Tenisha Campbell’s Clothing/ Styling Creation Frame


Sarah Folts displaying her Mounted & Framed Butterflies Vision Board


Annette McNeil presenting her Images for Earth Art Forms vision board; Sharmila displaying Annette’s foam doll frames.

Time being the only constraint,  they had only two minutes to present their visions. I was pleased to also witness the level of support and interaction as well as their determination not to leave anything vague and unanswered.


Kira Washington displaying her graphic design work; looking on are Sharmila Karamachandani, Charlene Gatewood, Cleopatra Magwaro, and Annette McNeil.

By and large, it was a heart warming as well as an enlightening session. For about an hour I was subconsciously transported into their world, only to be awakened by Sharmela’s call of “time’s up!”  It was indeed a special evening.


Tenisha Campbell demonstrating her clothing creations.

Thank you Sharmila and all our students who made the evening amazing and a huge success.


Welcome The New ETS Spring Class!

27 Mar

The New ETS Spring Class of Entrepreneurs!

On Saturday, March 23, Empowered Women International hosted a Meet & Greet, the first session of the Entrepreneurship Training for Success (ETS) class. ETS is a series of 23 classes, including business and financial literacy labs, a business plan pitch, and final graduation, which are a part of a three-month intensive entrepreneurship program.

The range of businesses in this class include arts, crafts, apparel, writing, publishing, jewelry, consulting, organizing, cleaning, film, translating, health, child care, cooking, sustainable housing, and irrigation systems.


Marga Fripp, President, discussing the finer points of the ETS program, with Sharmila Karamchandani, Lead Trainer, on the right.

The focus for the Meet & Greet session was on getting to know everyone, as well discuss the program itself, and on spiritual transformations as the beginning of the empowering process. Founder Marga Fripp shared a powerful TED Talk by Ric Elias, a passenger of Flight 1549: the plane that crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York in January 2009, at the beginning of afternoon session.


Following this video, the ETS students shared with the group their transforming moments, which got them to this point in their life and why they wanted to be a part of ETS. It is only when a person is ready to make a change in their life that they are really able to change and become empowered.  This time for self-reflection and introspection was a wonderful way for the women to bond together.


Mentor Marcela Kogan and ETS student Kira Washington


ETS students Charmelle Clark and Jane Mwinuka, Mentor Chris Ollis, and ETS student Cleopatra Magwaro

We are so excited to welcome the new class of entrepreneurs. Onward and Upward Spring ETS class!

By Sara Seavey, Monitoring & Evaluation Intern

Upcoming Featured Event – Spring 2 Action!

15 Mar

APRIL 17 – Get Ready for Spring2Action I One day online giving

Remember last year when we reached out to you nonstop for one day to help us raise funds to support our work? For a whole twenty-four hours on one day, the whole city of Alexandria sprung into action and gave and gave to all us charities… It was a great day. Because of you, our donors and supports and volunteers. You helped make EWI history.

We exceed our own goal in dollars raised and donors rallied. EWI placed 2nd with the most number of donors and 3rd place for the most dollars raised. We raised $24,000 in one day. ACT for Alexandria is taking us all to task again this year with their exceptional fundraising marathon, set for April 17th.

This year we’re raising the stakes because we believe in the power of your support, the power of our capacity, and the power of the women we support.

Are you ready? We ARE. Read more

EWI and Marga Fripp featured in Be Inkandescent

13 Mar

Hope Katz Gibbs

A heartfelt thank you to Hope Katz Gibbs, the publisher Be Inkandescent: The online magazine for entrepreneurs, by entrepreneurs.

In January 2010, founder and president Hope Katz Gibbs, a journalist since graduating from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School of Communications in 1986, launched the e-publication to spread the word about the great entrepreneurial businesses and ideas her clients were spearheading.

The online magazine also offers useful tips to other entrepreneurs who are either new to the “work for yourself” world, or are looking to take their companies to the next level.

Read Marga’s Story on BeInkandescent’s Truly Amazing Women column.