New women’s group supports female students

HOPE Giving BreakfastImagine a group of influential women of diverse backgrounds that comes together with a common goal: Support other women pursuing higher education and empower them to reach their full potential.

That’s what the Harper College Educational Foundation set out to do with its newly formed HOPE Giving Circle, which connects charitable-minded women to combine their resources and offer scholarships, mentoring and professional development.

More than 50 such women gathered earlier this month for a Women in Manufacturing Breakfast. The event, for current and prospective members alike, focused on the vast opportunities for women who pursue the traditionally male-dominated industry.

“The amazing work by the HOPE Giving Circle is creating opportunities for women who will receive support as they pursue their hopes and dreams,” Educational Foundation Board President Kathy Gilmer said.

HOPE (Helping Others through the Power of Education) Giving Circle members meet occasionally for social, networking and educational events. Future gatherings may highlight a variety of industries and topics such as philanthropy and women in leadership.

HOPE Scholarships will benefit female students entering their second year at Harper who are planning to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. Each scholarship award is valued at $10,000 and can be used for academic expenses at Harper and the transfer college or university.

HOPE Giving Circle members meet occasionally for social, networking and educational events. The Women in Manufacturing Breakfast focused on the promising future of women who pursue the traditionally male-dominated industry.

Keynote speaker Teresa Beach-Shelow, owner and president of Superior Joining Technologies Inc., discussed her journey to becoming a recognized leader in the effort to strengthen the manufacturing industry in northern Illinois. She highlighted statistics such as how women make up 47 percent of the labor force but only 27 percent of the manufacturing workforce.

Beach-Shelow also shared her own approach to succeeding in the workplace and in life. She emphasized the need for women to be each other’s advocates.

“Whether it’s by offering a more flexible work environment, making training available when more women are available or just being more supportive, women need to encourage each other,” she said. Ed Youdell, president and CEO of the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, called on the industry to do a better job recruiting women.

Also speaking were Career and Technical Programs Dean Mary Beth Ottinger, student Michelle Mabry and HOPE Executive Committee members Lori Meier and Linda Lang. For more information about the HOPE Giving Circle, visit or contact Fredia Martin at 847.925.6701.

Media contact:Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159

Last Updated: 11/3/21