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AmeriCorps Shaped This Strong, Smart & Bold Woman

July 13, 2012

Today’s guest post comes from Judy Bowers, an AmeriCorps Alum who is currently the Co-chair of the 2012 Girls Inc. Strong, Smart & Bold Awards Luncheon in metro Atlanta.

1994 was a great year – It was the inaugural year of AmeriCorps and my service year.

My goal in joining AmeriCorps was simple. To make a difference in the world around me; as well as experiencing a collective inaugural movement of community service in the US. My service placement was at the 1917 HIV/AIDS clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. My team was comprised mostly of women and we were given little direction other than don’t screw up, do the best you can and by the way you need to self-lead. It was inspirational to me, a welcome challenge from being in school or work where you were told how to do and what to do.

To be transparent, not everyone thrived or thrives in this environment. But I did. I spent a year witnessing death, grief, confusion, fear and anger. It was also filled with the beauty of a smile, random situational friendships and the laughter that comes when you least expected it but needed it the most.

It was a year that I lived on very little materially, but had so much to offer and felt rich in ways that has been hard to replicate since. From the personal side, my understanding of who I am was shaped that year, someone who is a strong, smart and bold woman.

The professional impact I had while in AmeriCorps has shaped me into the leader that I am today. I learned the attributes of a leader, mostly by what not to do, but eventually by what did work and seeking mentorship where I could to understand a little deeper of how to motivate, inspire and continue to move towards a collective goal. I had never had the experience of leading team discussions or speaking in front of large groups. AmeriCorps offered and pushed me into these types of experiences on a continuous basis.

In the end, I was rewarded by a letter of leadership commendation from President Bill Clinton. Talk about a powerful way of motivating your team, just say ‘thank you’ and recognize a strong contributor once in a while!

We were given a challenge of being an AmeriCorps member, creating a lasting program through our work efforts, community involvement and leadership. I am proud to be an AmeriCorps Alum and part of the strong, smart and bold women who make up roughly 2/3rds of the total alumni population of AmeriCorps!

I am currently the Co-chair, 2012 Girls Incorporated of Greater Atlanta Strong, Smart & Bold Awards Luncheon. I encourage you to nominate a strong, bold & bold AmeriCorps Alums woman who is currently residing in metro Atlanta to be recognized for her service. Winners of the Strong, Smart & Bold Awards will be announced at the Strong, Smart & Bold Awards Luncheon, August 24, 2012, at the Westin Atlanta Perimeter North, Grand Ballroom.

Nominations end July 15th, 2012, but can be extended for AmeriCorps Alums if more time is needed.

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