My name is Cathy Bork, Chapter Chair of Ventura County SCORE in California. I am so proud of our chapter, as it has evolved, becoming stronger and more diverse to educate and counsel entrepreneurs in our community with dignity and respect.
A few women showing resilience and adaptability have been members of this chapter between 5 and 10 years. In the last few years, Ventura County SCORE saw a marked increase in female volunteers. Confident women joined our chapter and quickly assumed active roles. As a result of this female influence, there was a paradigm shift to a more empathic, humble and communicative relationship that resonated not only with clients, but with male volunteers.
This shift toward a more gender diverse volunteer base prepared us for the totally unexpected in 2020. When the pandemic shut the economy down, our office was forced to close. Our committees had to learn how to produce and market free webinars. Mentors could no longer meet clients in person and had to start using video or phone. More clients than ever needed assistance and 63% of those clients reaching out to our chapter were women. Adversity brought out the best in SCORE members, both men and women. We worked hard, supported each other, communicated regularly and changed the way we did EVERYTHING!
In April 2021, still in the middle of the pandemic, I became Ventura County SCORE’s first female Chair in its 50 year history! Under my leadership, women who recently joined SCORE and those that were long time members got more involved. They not only mentored clients, but multi-tasked by accepting leadership positions, serving on committees, spear-heading events, managing marketing campaigns presenting webinars as subject matter experts and hosting webinars and events.
Attracting more women volunteers has been instrumental to our success! Our 2022 reporting shows a 95% positive client mentoring experience. We completed more mentoring sessions and had a higher follow-on rate than any previous year! We produced several free live webinars. But, it goes beyond the reporting. Times are changing rapidly and Ventura County SCORE has a new energy and is meeting the challenge of the “Next Normal” with confidence.