SE Episode 068: Leading With Curiosity w/ Kathy Lambert

"Something Extra episode 68" blue podcast banner with an image of a woman, Kathy Lambert

With the life-changing impact to over 120,000 women and children, CEO and Co-Founder, Kathy Lambert shares what she’s learned from over two decades serving with Connection to Success.

Bio: For the past 22 years, Kathy Lambert has worked to end the cycle of poverty. Her journey began in 1997 after she read an article about Dress for Success New York, a nonprofit dedicated to helping women re-enter the workforce by providing interview clothing. Recognizing a similar need in her St. Louis community, Kathy launched Dress for Success Midwest to help women coming from difficult circumstances achieve economic independence.

Kathy quickly learned about the challenges many low-income single moms face, including a lack of transportation and difficulty navigating social service and justice systems. To help address the need for transportation, Kathy’s husband, Brad, left his career to start Wheels for Success, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting individuals and families with reliable transportation. In 2001, Kathy and Brad merged their organizations to create Connections to Success (CtS) with the goal of breaking the cycle of poverty and incarceration for the next generation.

As CEO and Co-Founder of CtS, Kathy has provided passionate leadership and has overseen CtS’s growth into a regional nonprofit with sites in Missouri, Illinois and Kansas. Today CtS is nationally recognized with 11 replication sites in Kansas, California and Arkansas, implementing the CtS evidence-based model for improving children’s futures by helping parents gain social capital and achieve economic independence through its holistic program model. The CtS model integrates employment training opportunities, life transformation coaching, job development and lifelong support services to equip individuals for long-term success.

Under Kathy’s leadership, CtS has launched innovative programs designed to address the unique challenges experienced by generation poverty and justice-involved individuals and their families. In 2018, Kathy facilitated a pilot program inside a Missouri state correctional center in collaboration with private and public sector partnerships. The program provided CtS’s Personal and Professional Development Training for participants and equipped them with key resources, tools, and connections before they re-entered their communities.

Kathy’s work has been recognized locally and nationally. She received the 2019 Women of Influence Award by RISE Collaborative, 2017 St. Louis Women of Achievement Award for Social Enterprise, in addition to awards from the State of Missouri and the U.S. Department of Labor. In 2013 Kathy received the Volunteer Service Award from President Obama and in 2014 she participated in an invitation-only White House Summit for Working Families. She is a graduate of the FOCUS St. Louis leadership program, NSC’s Nonprofit Women’s Leadership Academy, the NIC Offender Workforce Development Specialist Train the Trainer and the National Practitioners Leadership Institute, where she served as a faculty member. Kathy served as the first Board President for Dress for Success Worldwide and served as a 2017-2018 Mentor for the DeVos Urban Leadership Program in St. Louis. In February 2018, Kathy was appointed to serve on the Missouri State Workforce Development Board and recently accomplished one of her goals on her bucket list…she is now a TEDx Speaker.

Kathy’s Something Extra: Servant’s Heart and to Lead with Curiosity

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