New Dress for Success Phoenix CEO talks inspirations, empowerment

Every March we recognize the accomplishments and achievements of visionary women who helped make the United States what it is today. It is the impressive stories of women that inspire and empower the next generation of females—and while these stories are a testament to how far society has come, there is still a lot of work to be done in our community and beyond.

Although Women’s History Month serves as a powerful reminder to celebrate these courageous women, our infinite admiration should also go to the women that are paving the way to help others break through the glass ceiling in Arizona. One such woman is the new leader of a Phoenix nonprofit who does her part every day to positively impact others’ lives by helping them unlock their full potential. 

Meet Tamala J. McBath, a mother, a self-proclaimed weather geek, Tennessee native, and the brand new CEO of Dress for Success Phoenix. McBath is someone to be celebrated. Not only has she dedicated her life to making the lives of others better, but she is also putting women across the Valley at the forefront by arming them with the developmental tools necessary to achieve their career goals. 

McBath, who says we each have a responsibility to reach back and help empower women in all walks of life, took time out of her hectic work schedule to talk to Arizona PBS about her roots in advocacy and how her organization aims to make a difference. Here is what she had to say.

AZPBS: What are some of your biggest passions and hobbies?

McBath: I’m a weather geek. For one of my birthdays, my husband arranged for me to be able to go behind the scenes at one of the local news stations and so I got to watch them do the weather, green screen, everything. I also love to travel and I think along with that comes reading. I am still very old-fashioned and I like the feel of a book. 

AZPBS: What is something or someone that inspires you?

McBath: Oh, my girls—my girls are an inspiration to me. They’re smart, they’re talented in their fields, and they have a heart for people. My ultimate goal as a mom is to raise good citizens in this world that still care about others and have an impact on their community.

AZPBS: As a leader with decades of experience in operations, business development, and risk management, how did you get involved with Dress for Success? 

McBath: I started volunteering for the professional women’s group to help women know how to deal with not getting the job and how to really get back on the horse and go back and do it again. I just decided at this stage of my career that I wanted to be able to give back in a larger way; I wanted to be able to devote more time to that. So when this opportunity came about in our move to Phoenix, it just really felt like a good fit.

AZPBS: We’ve learned that the pandemic has disrupted the workforce, with women hit particularly hard. Is your organization doing anything specific to support women as society adjusts to the “new normal”?

McBath: It’s been said in a recent report that women lost 32 years of progress in the workplace. And we feel that. One of the things that we’ve done over the past year is help over a thousand women get back to work—we had a campaign just for that. We are also involved with grants that are designed specifically around COVID so we’re able to help more women who have been displaced.

AZPBS: How do you see the organization changing in two years?

McBath: As a new CEO, I’m a big supporter of more education and the right education. My vision is to be able to meet women where they are whether it’s helping them get their GED or helping them with technical training, we’ll do that. Women and everyone in general really need that kind of support because it really does make a difference.

AZPBS: As the CEO of Dress for Success, you’re an inspiration to many women in our community. If you had to give advice to one person starting out in a similar career path, what would it be?

McBath: It’s OK to know your own weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to know who you really are because we’ve all heard the term “fake it till you make it.” I do think it’s very important for us as women to be aware of who we are and be OK with that. Trust those gifts and learn as much as we can about ourselves.

AZPBS: What’s the best way for someone to get involved?

McBath: There are so many different ways to get involved. You can go online and there is an application where we will reach back out to you with opportunities. Don’t have to feel like you can only do one thing, bring your talents and we’ll figure out how to use them.

AZPBS: Any last words?

McBath: We have a responsibility to reach back and help empower women and bring them forward with us. We want to see them thrive in life and in their work. I really feel that the key to success, the key to ending generational poverty is through the woman. They touch so much within the family unit that it’s just important that we support each other.

Learn more about Dress for Success – Phoenix and how to get involved.

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