In an era when women on average make 83 cents for every dollar a man makes, Twin Cities nonprofit TeamWomen works to narrow that gap by helping women and girls develop their careers through events involving women of varied career levels and industries. In a survey, members reported experiencing a pay increase of 38% thanks to their involvement. We asked Executive Director Katy Burke to tell us more about what the organization does.

Q: How did TeamWomen start?

A: A group of women got together and said, "How can we build an organization whose main purpose is to lift other women up and help them advance in their careers and also personally?"

Q: What programs does TeamWomen offer?

A: TeamWomen empowers women and girls through programming that fosters inner confidence and provides essential life tools for career potential. We welcome women at every career stage, from early career to executive to legacy, and we offer a supportive, lifelong community dedicated to professional and personal growth.

You can join TeamWomen, or you can come to any of our events. As a member you'll develop leadership skills, broaden your network and gain the courage to become the leader you aspire to be. Our goal is to provide programming that propels your career beyond expectations, expands awareness across industries and perspectives, gives you access to diverse programming, addressing holistic career needs and experience.

Q: How much does it cost to join TeamWomen?

A: It's $125 for one year, $200 for two years, $75 if you're a student, and $50 if you're a Hero, or first responder.

Q: Would you say TeamWomen is different from other kinds of networking groups for women?

A: We develop leaders from the classroom to the boardroom through our three pillars: leadership development and mentoring for women and leadership academies for youth. We hold about 40 events a year and have had over 20,000 career-centric women through the doors, through all of our different leadership development events.

In our leadership development events, we bring in C-Suite speakers for luncheons to share their story. Those luncheons give people an opportunity to expand their network and hear how the speakers got to where they are. They can use the tools and strategies shared in their own careers.

We have professional development events, like an upcoming event on public speaking. So all the topics are around bolstering your presence and your confidence to be the best leader you aspire to be. And sometimes things happen when you attend. I always say to our audience, "You might think that you just came here to have a cup of coffee and to meet other people, but what happens in our room is a miracle."

We polled our membership to find out what has happened to them by being in this TeamWomen community, personally and professionally. And we found that 38% of our members experienced an increase in compensation that they could point directly back to being in the TeamWomen community.

Q: Impressive!

A: By being in those rooms, surrounding yourself with the right people that are making things happen, you get ideas about how to have conversations differently, how to negotiate for yourself, how to advocate for yourself, how to have tough conversations. And it just happens by listening to other people's stories.

Q: What industries or career types are represented in your membership?

A: We have almost 700 members. About 38% are director level on up to the C-Suite, 30% are managers or collaborators, 30% are entrepreneurs, and 2% are in transition. The industries are health care, financial services, legal, government, military, nonprofit, agriculture and more. What's nice about TeamWomen is you get that experience outside your organization. Same with our mentor program, with over 450 mentor and mentee pairs. It can be young women or older women that are looking to hone their skills in different areas.

Q: What other programs or initiatives?

A: We do two or three monthly events plus these three flagship events. We launch two mentor program cohorts for women a year and over 15 Empower Leadership Academies, where we coach girls in fifth through 12th grade on confidence, mental wellness, stress management, goal setting. The academies are free and open to the public. Our tagline is, "We develop leaders from the classroom to the boardroom."

Q: What kinds of success stories have you heard from TeamWomen members?

A: I love to tell this story about Edith Young. She'd been a member of TeamWomen for several years, and she thought, "It's time to make a change, and I'm not sure how to do it." She started coming to our leadership events and being in the rooms with like-minded people.

She saw an opportunity on LinkedIn, and she reached out cold to the hiring manager and said, "I'm really interested in this role. Please share a little bit about the company culture, your leadership style and explain more about what you're looking for." And within 20 minutes, that person that she did not know called her and said, "I would love to connect you with the hiring team so that we could schedule an interview." She landed the job, and it was more money, it was more everything.

Q: That's a bold approach!

A: Isn't it? Women that are part of TeamWomen are ready to make bold moves and take action.

Q: Can you talk a bit about some of the challenges women face in their professional careers that TeamWomen can help with?

A: The first thing is inner confidence, right? They're managing home, they're managing kids, they're managing career, they're managing aging parents, multiple things. I think having a community of women that are going through like experiences to say, "We get you, we understand you, we support you, we're with you" — having that team rally around you breathes energy into you to set your boundaries and responsibilities and advocate for yourself. Speak up for what you need. Put yourself first on the list instead of assuming the role of behind everybody else.

Q: Women don't get socialized to speak up for themselves. They're socialized to speak up for their children or their families, but not for themselves.

A: That's right. You have to practice speaking up, and that's what the community of TeamWomen does. The culture that we have is one of belonging, one of safety. Everyone's welcome, no matter what role, what industry. It's like that feeling of being home, you know? Because the women that are a part of it are mission-driven, it's not like a professional networking group whose goal is to get business from one another.

But that is a byproduct of what happens. People come for support, and they do business, you know? So we're not shying away from it, but we don't lead with that. We're leading with supporting one another. You could come to breakfast and say, "I'm really struggling with this." And somebody's going to say, "Oh, I did exactly that. And here's what I did."

Men are at the top right now, with the biggest earnings, and when they're looking to fill seats at the board table, they're going to their network, right? That's a natural. So what TeamWomen is building is that powerful network, so that if we get one or two or more in the boardroom, we're going to do the same thing.