Spotlight on Kim Shumpert, Executive Director of Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute

By Caroline Christman

Kim Shumpert discusses her vision, the future of CWLI and how to get women from here to there.

Shumpert, with two previous executive director positions under her belt, was named executive director of the Chattanooga Women’s Leadership Institute (CWLI) following an extensive area-wide search. Shumpert officially took the reins of the day-to-day management of the organization on May 1, 2018, taking on the role of leading more than 600 members, overseeing the leadership training, mentoring programs and networking opportunities alongside CWLI’s engaged board of directors.

After 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Shumpert believes her passion and life’s work led her to this role with CWLI.

“I want us to be the premier resource for preparing talented women to enter, re-enter or advance their careers and grow into the leaders our workforce needs,” she says. “A common thread over my career has involved equipping individuals. There is no better feeling than watching people reach their fullest potential. Wherever you are along your career path, we will have concrete tools ready to help guide you.”

Shumpert emphasized areas where she is eager to expand CWLI’s offerings.

“We want this to be an organization that is everything you think of when you consider an institute; producing thought leadership opportunities, leading in diversity and inclusion tactics, continuously improving our digital presence and access to information so women who aren’t able to attend meetings and events can still access the valuable lessons.”

Creating a growth plan for all interested members is a critical component for CWLI. 

“When a member has graduated a course, we want to track their growth and guide them to the next appropriate course so that they always have the opportunity to keep improving, and even eventually receive certifications from our organization.”

Collaborating more closely with area businesses is another important initiative Shumpert wants CWLI to commit to.

“I want to find what the needs are and address those directly,” she says. “We need to be communicating those needs back to members for a better understanding of what the demand is today.”

She envisions a steady workforce of highly talented women at all levels of society.

“Women wear many hats; we are mothers, daughters, sisters, workers, volunteers and much more—these things are always merging and overlapping. We need to be advocates for women in the workforce, demonstrating that innovative work solutions foster better morale and higher productivity. We want to prove that when women have access to the right strategies everyone benefits.”

Through celebrating and recognizing members' talents, Shumpert wants to continue to show businesses the value of hiring women in prominent leadership roles.

In today’s climate, the volume is turned up on women. Shumpert expressed the necessity of articulating how to be heard in a professional setting.

“We will have courses devoted to this, such as teaching the art of the pivot, how to be a better negotiator and how to speak up in a room full of leaders. Women are excellent team builders. We understand how much we are needed and how much we need each other. We have a real opportunity for women’s voices to rise above the noise in the most positive way.”

Shumpert sees CWLI as a true institute of learning where women seek and find answers to issues unique to their situation, drawing from the experiences of experts within the community and intentional networking groups to become innovative leaders within their professions.

Lofty goal for this Chattanooga native? You bet!

“I believe CWLI can make an impression beyond Chattanooga ... I couldn’t be more excited to be in this role and for CWLI to make a lasting impact over the next several years.”

Interested in learning more about CWLI? Visit CWLI.org or email Kim Shumpert at kim@cwli.org.