YPL: Tell me about your experience as a Young Professional Leaders member? What did your involvement look like?
Gayle: YPL will always hold a special place in my heart. This is where my involvement with United Way was able to move from monetary only to investing my time and talent with the organization. As a charter member of the cabinet, this was truly a working board. The nice thing was we were all new so no one had a head start. The challenging part was we were all new with no road map. The best part was we all came to the table with ideas of how to be successful and were all willing to roll up our sleeves and do the good work that needed to be done. As the youngest person on the Charter Cabinet, it was important for me that all Young Professionals be able to be a part of this movement. I recognized with my peers that not all Young Professionals would be able to give at the $1,000 level right off the back. They could be paying back student loans or just be adjusting to all the bills that came with adulthood. We were able to establish the step-up program to get people in the door to see the value in being a member. This paved the way for LINC. Involvement ten years ago mainly was thinking about our vision and how we could set the stage to achieve our vision. It was a lot of trial and error. But after 10 years, I would say we had more successes that have led to the growth of this cabinet!
YPL: What is one of your favorite memories or moments during your time with Young Professional Leaders?
Gayle: My favorite moments were the meetings. For some reason, they thought Fridays at 7:30 am were a great time for us to meet. But every time I walked into that room, I forgot how early it was and got excited to be with my team to make a difference. We usually sat in the same seats even though they were not assigned. I have gained some great friends and mentors through YPL. From a volunteer perspective, my favorite memory was our first Junior Leadership Academy. I remember one of the young men participating was from New York and had been sent to live with family here in Georgia because he was getting mixed up with the wrong crowds in New York. His mother was a professor at Columbia University. I loved the moment I met him because it was a humbling reminder that you do not have to come from a bad situation to end up in one.
YPL: How are you continuing to stay involved in the community? How did your involvement in Young Professional Leaders affect your decision to give back?
Gayle: I continue to stay involved in the community through United Way. After my YPL terms, I migrated to what Women’s Leadership Council that is now known has Cole Women United. I have stayed involved and chaired this cabinet in 2018-2019. I was also set to chair Leading a Life of Purpose prior to it being cancelled due to COVID-19. I love attending UW Volunteer Events and brining my children so that volunteerism and philanthropy will not be new to them as they get older and will just be a way of life. They enjoy packing shoeboxes and decorating them and packing snacks for children in need. They will be ready to join YPL!
YPL: What would you say to someone who is considering joining Young Professional Leaders?
Gayle: This was the most beneficial activity outside of my job that I could have ever been a member. I grew personally through seeing the work that United Way does. I always tell people United Way helped shape how I raise my kids. I attended so many sessions on education and the way a child’s brain forms in the first three years. I learned about the true effects of literacy and the way our vocabulary development is influenced by it. There are so many things that I was able to learn for myself just by volunteering and giving back. But on a professional level, I was able to gain some of my best mentors and friends through the cabinet. I still connect with many of them. And if we don’t connect often, you would never know it when we get into a room together! At the 10 year anniversary social, it proved that our bond is a special one!
YPL: What is your favorite quote or personal mantra?
Gayle: You can have it all, just not all at the same time! This is important to me as we juggle work/life balance. It was a quote I learned at one of the YPL Leadership Luncheons as has stuck with me through all the years. Because of this quote, I feel like I have it all!