Effective communication skills never go out of style and Kelly Fair gracefully passes that torch to others. A few years ago, the former executive took a step away from the corporate arena to give back to the community that refined her skills and attributed to her success. In 2009, the Chicago native established The Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program, which offers the opportunity for girls (7-17 years old) to learn communication skills in order to attain success in all areas of their lives and to help them S.H.I.N.E. (Smile, Hello, Introduce, Nod your head and End the conversation), Kelly says.
“We want girls to be good communicators at school and eventually in their careers,” she adds.
On Thursday, June 20, guests will gather to show their support for the Polished Pebbles’ Fundraiser at the Wild Hare as the foundation celebrates and presents awards to some of its partners and supporters in the Chicago community. Honorees include business leader and community activist Tony Shaw, Rev. Dr. Helen Ward Carry and Betty Clawson.
The CEO and founder of the organization says she was destined to find a path that led to working in the community because of her background and what community service meant to her to as a child. She missed the direct contact with people and seeing that impact in the community. As she searched for something fulfilling, Kelly says she felt she was too young to consult. After meeting with other women in her community, she found part of her inspiration to create Polished Pebbles, which was also spawned by her memories of mentorship in her past. Ms. Clawson, one of the honorees for this year’s fundraiser and awards ceremony, was one of Kelly’s mentors as a child who gave the entrepreneur her first job.
“I came from a great family, but I was not a confident kid and I was the shy girl in school,” Kelly confesses. “I remember I always wanted to work and earned an internship at 13 years old. That experience pulled me out of my shyness as I was immersed with an environment of positive women. Job readiness and mentors saved me. I’m a product of it. When you have those foundation skills, you can go anywhere. That’s empowerment and how you help people to be free.”
Some of the partnerships the organization work with include Bloomingdale’s Department Stores, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Chicago State University, Illinois Institute of Technology, Microsoft Store, The National Mentoring Summit with First Lady Michelle Obama, WGCI-Clear Channel and WNBA’s Chicago Sky. These partnerships afford mentorship and job shadowing opportunities for the young girls in the organization. Although Polished Pebbles supports girl empowerment, the founder stresses it’s a community program that wants to influence other communities to help each other.
In addition to professional mentorships, Polished Pebbles works to combat how girls and women are represented in the media and what’s portrayed on “reality TV”. The foundation teaches the effects of aggression, discusses trust issues, participates in a virtual exchange program and other motivational activities to enrich the minds and cultivate the social skills of the girls.
“Someone outside out of your family also has to plant those seeds,” Kelly adds.
As she acknowledges her past, the entrepreneur admits her roots in the business arena taught her valuable lessons as well. She admits corporate America truly helped her, but she’s been bitten by the entrepreneur bug.
“It’s a journey and has been an adventure,” she admits. “I’m searching for a balance, but I love what I’m doing because it’s been a joy to help the girls.”
Tickets are $75 for Thursday’s fundraiser and are available at http://polishedpebbles.eventbrite.com. Parking is available nearby at the Home Depot parking garage and validation is $5.
Follow on Twitter at @PolishedPebbles
Photos Courtesy of High Style Marketing PR