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Archive for the ‘Personal Empowerment’ Category

Online lender Cash Suvidha is planning to raise $5 million -$10 – IBS Intelligence

Posted: September 19, 2019 at 6:41 am

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Rajesh Gupta, Founder, Cash Suvidha

The online lender for business and personal loans, Cash Suvidha, is planning to raise $5 million -$10 million equity funds in the next six months.

Founded in 2016, Cash Suvidha is the trade name under which NBFC Usha Financial Services extends business loans to SMEs and MSMEs and personal loans to individuals particularly in Delhi NCR, Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Rajasthan. It also deals with women empowerment on a micro level.

The New Delhi-NCR based company had raised about $1 million in March 2018 to expand its loan disbursal capabilities to the entrepreneurs and individuals. The new funding will help the company expand its operations, increase its loan books and to further strengthen its technological infrastructure, the company said in a statement. The company has also raised a total of $10.5 million in debt funding so far.

Rajesh Gupta, founder of Cash Suvidha said, We are one of the fastest-growing NBFC and FinTech companies. Within a short time, we have tied up with over 25 players to expand business across India and are targeting a 4x increase in terms of growth this year. This capital infusion would help us in widening our horizon and in extending our best alternative lending services across geographies.

Cash Suvidha works towards ensuring the availability of credit for MSMEs that either do not have access to credit or are capital deficient currently. The company is known for its quick digital processing, easy lending services and disbursing loans within three working days.

The company uses technology to determine the best leads for credit and match them with the perfect kind of product. Since its inception, the company has disbursed loans to over 49,000 SMEs and MSMEs. Its average loan ticket size is INR 15,000- INR 500,000.

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Online lender Cash Suvidha is planning to raise $5 million -$10 - IBS Intelligence

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Residents cash in on free financial counseling – Akron Beacon Journal

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Karen Bailey welds for a metal fabricator. It's honest work with decent pay, but the 55-year-old Akron grandmother is tired of throwing her money away on rent every month.

Raised in East Cleveland, Bailey struggled financially without a lot of family help. After the first of her seven children was born, she dropped out of high school and took a series of factory jobs. She lost a couple jobs, she recalled, when she brought a child to work after she could not find or afford a sitter or daycare.

The children have since graduated college or picked up a trade like their mother did. One has a commercial driver's license. Another is a public accountant. Finally able to focus on herself, Bailey decided last June to seek that long-sought financial advice at a recently shuttered Huntington Bank on Kenmore Boulevard. The branch location had just reopened as the Akron Financial Empowerment Center.

There, she thought, she would get the financial help and attention she missed growing up.

I want to buy my own house, she said, having lifted her credit score to a respectable 620 after a year of pulling her credit report, learning how to read it and then pulling it again, over and over. I am going to buy my own house.

Bailey checks her 401k each month. She pays her bills on time and always makes more than the minimum payment. She understands how the big three credit reporting agencies monitor different aspects of her borrowing. And she watches her FICO score like a hawk.

Hooey, she said. Its going to go up higher. I can do some things at my age.

Bailey, now attending home-buying and credit-building classes at East Akron Neighborhood Development Corporation, is a first-year success story in a effort to empower local residents with financial skills that could reap dividends for them, their children and the entire community.

With five offices operating throughout Greater Akron and two more opening next month at Robinson and Helen Arnold Community Learning Centers, Akrons Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) program has so far helped 708 clients budget their money and bank accounts by understanding how to manage debt and access safe credit. To meet more clients, the center prepared 2,400 income tax returns in the past year at no charge.

According to figures released by FEC, the first 708 clients have collectively saved $258,563 and reduced their debt $289,384. The program is free and open to anyone in Summit County, regardless of income.

The operation is run by Angela Lowery, whose background is in nonprofit management, under the auspices of the United Way of Summit County in collaboration with the city, county and dozens of partners from low-income housing providers, community support organizations, libraries and employers that refer or help clients.

At 37 percent white with a median household income of $25,000, the first-year clients are skewing minority and low-income. This is the population civic and business leaders hope to uplift with economic equity plans like Elevate Akron.

Nearly two-thirds of clients enroll with no savings. About one in seven lacks a bank account. Many live in neighborhoods that lack banks with low or no fees, which the FEC is delivering to clients through partnerships with financial institutions in the Bank On program.

On Thursday, a staff member at the Kenmore location copied a 0% loan application from a program partner that helps borrowers with bad credit. A woman took some advice then grabbed the application and raced out to get to another bank before it closed.

Moments later, an older man in a button-up dress shirt and slacks walked in from the heat. An ad for the program arrived in his water bill. Everyone got the marketing ad, which the city pushed on social media.

Im overwhelmed in debt, said the man, who sat in the waiting room, too proud to give his name to a reporter asking about his personal finances.

For some, its not about servicing debt. Its dealing with collections, said Lowery. People accustomed to dodging debt collectors distrust banks, which can make them even more vulnerable to predatory lending.

Sometimes people bring envelopes (from debt collectors) that they have just not opened, because they have such a fear of these things, said Lowery. Just having [a financial coach] open it with you, sort it out with you, explain what it is, help you come up with a plan that can be such a huge relief.

The FEC comes at no cost for taxpayers or clients. It was launched on grants of $20,000 from Bloomberg Philanthropies and $250,000 from the Cities for Financial Empowerment Fund. That money runs out in 2020, after which the United Way, which has contributed $300,000, has agreed to sustain the program.

Most people need to know about this program, said Rufus Willis, who is getting help from FEC.

He said "there are so many of us out there" who, for a variety of reasons, don't have access to financial services.

Willis said he grew up in Chicago, making a living the wrong way with money coming in one hand and out the other. He doesnt recall financial life lessons at school or home.

Whatever you want, it takes money to get it. That's what he remembers. They dont tell you nothing about credit or anything else, he said.

Willis moved to Akron and started a carpentry business in 1990. He made good money, he said, until a lung disease diagnosis in 2012 ended his hammer-swinging days.

He now drags an oxygen tank and lives on Social Security disability benefits and a few thousand dollars he's saved. His girlfriend, who worked 30 years in a local pie factory, played her financial cards right. She just bought a house in East Akron for $40,000.

Willis didnt even think about co-signing for the loan. Applicants who try to get homes with his 540 credit score face high interest rates, hefty down payments or flat-out rejection.

He's at the FEC learning the value of creditworthiness. The center helped him get a secured credit card through KeyBank. He draws down his deposit and replenishes the account monthly to show the big boys at national credit agencies that he can be trusted with a loan.

That makes all the difference in the world, said Rufus, whos looking forward to the day he can buy his grandkids something nice from a magazine without paying too much on interest. Thats what credit is all about.

Reach Doug Livingston at or 330-996-3792.

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Residents cash in on free financial counseling - Akron Beacon Journal

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

‘Hearts and Bones’ creates an emotional stir at TIFF – Inside Film

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Hearts and Bones stars Andrew Luri, Bolude Watson, director Ben Lawrence and star Hugo Weaving.

For director Ben Lawrence, the reaction to his feature debut Hearts and Bones at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) was both emotional and overwhelming.

Lawrence reports the standing ovations at every screening and the outpouring of praise for the cast, particularly for South Sudanese immigrant Andrew Luri in his acting debut, made a huge impact.

Of the films Canadian reception, Liane Cunje, TIFF Discovery and International programming associate said: Ive run the gamut of audiences reactions here at TIFF for films we programme from around the world, and Ive never witnessed such an emotional celebration after a screening as the one I saw after Hearts and Bones.

The film, which made its world premiere in competition at the Sydney Film Festival in June, screened as part of the TIFF Discovery program, which highlights outstanding feature debuts globally. It was one of only four international premieres in this category.

Overall, the Canadian festival was a strong showcase for Australia, with five other local projects also on the line-up: Justin Kurzels True History of the Kelly Gang, Unjoo Moons I Am Woman, Daniel Gordons The Australian Dream, Gregor Jordans Dirt Music and Blackfella Films series Total Control, directed by Rachel Perkins. It was a diverse slate, covering the personal impact of inherited trauma, the political and social toll of toxic masculinity, and female empowerment and racial parity all with a unique Australian twist.

TIFF, as well as being one of the worlds premiere film festivals is also a bellwether for the North American market and it was fantastic to have six very diverse and distinctively Australian titles selected to screen this year, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason tells IF.

Black B*tch, known here as Total Control, was the first Australian television series to be selected for the festival, and it was incredible to be in the room and witness the audience reaction.

Mason reported that the Total Control premiere screening, which featured a Q&A with cast and producers, garnered a powerful and emotional reception with members of the audience crying.

He was also impressed with the international impact of The Australian Dream. It is a uniquely Australian story and to see international audiences respond the way they did was very moving, it gave me goose bumps.

Two historical biopics, the trailblazing feminist rise of Helen Reddy in Unjoo Moons I Am Woman and Justin Kurzels anarchic True History of the Kelly Gang, were embraced by critics and audiences alike.

The public screenings for Unjoo Moons I Am Woman were huge hits. It is such a feel good film and Tilda Cobham-Hervey gives a career defining performance as Helen Reddy. True History of the Kelly Gang received rave reviews.

Mason adds that Ben Lawrences moving refugee story Hearts and Bones continued to impress international audiences following its Australian premiere and Dirt Music put Western Australias dramatic landscapes on show in this iconic book adaptation.

Written by Lawrence with Beatrix Christian, Hearts and Bones follows a war photographer (Hugo Weaving) and a refugee (Luri), who discover a photograph that threatens to destroy them both.

Produced by Matt Reeder, the film was made on a $2 million budget and received funding support from Screen Australia and Create NSW, who were attracted to the authentic portrayal of cultural diversity.

It wasnt conscious that I wanted to portray diversity, but this story was important as it was not being told, Lawrence says.

Lawrence wanted to cast authentically and found Luri, a 58-year-old bus driver who turned up to an open casting.

He completely gave himself to the process and to the nuance of the character. He has fled South Sudan twice and this story resonated to him personally on multiple levels which contributed a whole lot of gravity to his performance and he did an amazing job.

Coming from a documentary background, telling the untold story is in Lawrences DNA, as is exploring the effects of trauma on the psyche. Hearts and Bones is his first move from documentary to drama but plays in the same thematic territory. For Lawrence its a progression of the many of the issues he has worked with in the non-scripted world.

The director started his screen career creating testimonial-styled campaigns as a commercial director at Exit Films. In 2016 he co-directed the ABCs Man Up documentary which focused on Australian mens mental health and suicide and more recently worked on the ABCs Exposed: The Case of Keli Lane. His 2018 debut feature length documentary Ghosthunter, supported by Good Pitch, was a multi-layered meditation on abuse and the generational damage of male toxicity.

Hearts and Bones is essentially about two men Daniel Fisher (Weaving) and Sebastian Ahmed (Luri) and their relationship to the other. One has a horrific experience that he is trying to out run and one has problems facing his future. It is in the dynamic of how they help each other story comes about, Lawrence explains.

While Hearts and Bones covers very distinct Australian multicultural terrain, Lawrence says he set out to make a universal story that resonated across borders and straight into personal experience. I wanted to create a story that showed our connection to the rest of the world but at the same time could take place in any part of the world.

A core part of the universality of Hearts and Bones is centred around the use of music, inspired by a story Lawrence was working on for Amnesty International on a Bosnian refugee choir that met every week to heal themselves through song.

The choir in Hearts and Bones provides that same refugee solace in a suburban hall in Western Sydney. It is a central part of the film and works to not only provide community but to shake up pre-conceived ideas of culture.

Lawrences aim is that by providing this vision of a community, the film will help to disarm fear-based control, and change the way the other is treated in our society and the way we communicate with each other.

From my work on ABCs Man Up and exploring the issues around the abnormally high Australian male suicide rate to the generational effects of childhood abuse, I wanted to explore trauma and how to deal with it. In writing Hearts and Bones the issues of war trauma and domestic violence all fed into the story along with the lack of ability of men in handling it.

Hearts and Bones will open theatrically in Australia via Madman Entertainment. Visit Films is handling international sales.


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'Hearts and Bones' creates an emotional stir at TIFF - Inside Film

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Eboni K Williams Get Real On Race, Success, and Empowerment – SWAAY

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Personally, I am over the top excited that we are on the cusp of turning the page on not only a new year but also on a new 10-year window of opportunities and possibilities!

You may be thinking, whoaI am just embracing the fall seasonyikes it is tough to think about a new decade!

Yet it is this groundwork, this forward thought that you put in place TODAY that will propel you and lead you into greatness in 2020 and beyond. Designing a new decade rests in your ability to vision, in your willingness to be curious, in your awareness of where you are now and what you most want to curate. Essentially, curating what's next is about tapping into today with confidence, conviction, and decision. Leading YOU starts now. This is your new next. It is your choice.

Sometimes to get to that 'next', you need to take a step back to reflect. Please pardon my asking you to spend time in yesterday. Those who know me personally, know that I created and continue to grow my business based on enabling the present moment as a springboard for living your legacy. So, indulge me here! True, I am asking you to peek into the past, yet it is only in order for you to bring the essence of that past forward into this moment called NOW.

What worked? What were my successes?

Make a list of your achievements big and small. Don't type them, but rather use ink and paper and sit with and savor them. Move your thoughts and your successes from your head, to your heart, to your pen, to the paper. Remember that on the flip side of goals not attained and New Year's resolutions abandoned, there was more than likely some traction and action that moved you forward, even if the end result was not what you expected. Once you have a full list of a decade's worth of personal and professional accomplishments, think about how this makes you feel. Do you remember celebrating all of them? My guess is no. So, celebrate them now. Give them new life by validating them. Circle the successes that resonate with you most right now. Where can you lean into those accomplishments as you power into the decade ahead?

If it were 10 years ago and nothing were standing in your way, no fear or excuses to contend withwhat would you do?

Don't overthink it. The brilliance of this question is that it refocuses purpose. Whatever first came to mind when you answered this for yourself is at its core a powerful insight into defining and redefining the FUTURE decade. Bring your answer into the light of today and what small piece of it is actionable NOW? Where is this resonating and aligning with a 2019 version of yourself?

Then, based on your success list and your answer to the above question, what is your 2020 vision for your business and for the business of YOU?

Designing a new decade begins as a collection of 3,650 opportunities. 3,650 blank slates of new days ahead in which to pivot and propel yourself forward. Every single one of those days is a window into your legacy. An invitation to be, create, explore, and chip away at this thing we call life. One 24-hour segment at a time.

While you have a decade ahead to work on design improvements, you have the ability to begin manifesting this project of YOU Version 2020 right NOW. Based on exploring the exercises in this post, begin executing your vision. Ask questions. Be present. Let go of 2019 and the past 10 years so that you can embrace the next 10. Position acceptance and self-trust at the forefront of how you lead you. One choice at a time.

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Miss USA Cheslie Kryst and Eboni K Williams Get Real On Race, Success, and Empowerment - SWAAY

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Whole Foods Just Announced a Surprising Change That Left an Employee ‘In Shock’ and Could Totally Alienate Their Most Loyal Customers – Inc.

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This article is about Whole Foods, and its decision to stop offering health insurance to 1,900 part-time workers as of January 1.

But first, a public service message: If you ever know parents whoadopta child, but who run into trouble adding their child to their health insurance, tell them there's a federal lawthey need to learn quickly: 29 U.S. Code1169(c)(1), which was part of the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993.

I learned about this law a few years ago, when my wife and I adopted our daughter, and our health benefits administrator simply refusedto add her to our policy. It was a rough ordeal -- hours and hours on the phone, running up medical bills in the meantime, and being distracted during time I wanted to spend with my family.

Ultimately, we won, after Iwrote some stern letters and threatened a lawsuit. The company evenapologized and promised to change how they train their employees. I'm telling about it now for other parents' benefit, of course, but also because it's probably my biggest Health Insurance Nightmare Story.

Many of us have one.And that shared experience is why the Whole Foods decision could come back to haunt it.

Today vs. last month

Whole Foods' decision was first reported by Business Insider last week. Comparethe company'srecruitment website today to an archived version from August:

Why do it? One report says this will likely save Whole Foods $19 million a year. That happens to be roughly what Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly makes in a little under five hours.

Actually the savings might be less, because Whole Foods told me in an emailed statement, it expects some affected workers to shift to full-time:

"Impacted Team Members in good standing have the opportunity to move into one of the thousands of full-time roles, where they will be eligible for the same Whole Foods Market healthcare plan at a more affordable rate.

The majority of Team Members only need to work an additional 5 hours per week to qualify for healthcare-eligible positions."

But picking up more hours means paying for childcare for some employees. One Whole Foods worker quoted byBusiness Insidersaid she was "in shock" after learning the news, adding:"I've worked here 15 years. This is why I keep the job -- because of my benefits."

Culture and perception

This might make some kind of sense as a financial decision. But as a culture and perception issue, it seems crazy.

Whole Foods has a great reputation for customer service. That's part of why it was worth $13.7 billion when Amazon acquired it in 2017. The way they've treated their employees historically was part of what made it all work.

I've shopped there forever, and the employees are a big reason why.But as we've seen so often -- heck, I even talked about it yesterday -- the hardest thing to build in any organization is culture. A close second might be the perception of culture.

Start chipping away at the pieces for short-term gain, and it can fall apart quickly.

Target du jour

Health care and how we pay for it is one of the most relevant, relatable and volatile political issues in this country today.

Besides, can you think of a company a clientele more urban andliberal than Whole Foods?

Heck, Whole Foods just managed to becomethe target du jour of politicians like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It just seems like this decision could totally alienate some of its most loyalcustomers.

So, from the outside: If you truly need to cut costs, Whole Foods, I'd look somewhere else.

We all have our stories. I've been waiting for the chance to tell that one.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

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Whole Foods Just Announced a Surprising Change That Left an Employee 'In Shock' and Could Totally Alienate Their Most Loyal Customers - Inc.

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Listen to the consumer to enhance senior living – Marketplace Columns – McKnight’s Senior Living

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As anyone with a parent in senior living knows, the intake process is substantial. So much is shared and so much is learned.

Adams stroke affects his right side. Mary uses a walker and a wheelchair, depending on the day. Luke is allergic to garlic.

Those are the basics. But what about who they were out in the world and who they want to be now? Often, enthusiastic caregivers learn every detail, but where does this information go? Without a comprehensive digital system, these intimate details often are lost during staff turnover, and the difference that could be made to the consumer is lost along with them.

Just like hotels collect data on their guests to better serve them, its time for senior living to use the latest in data-sharing, not only for operational efficiency but also to better serve residents.

Collecting pertinent data about incoming senior residents is a key part of many recruitment and enrollment systems within the senior living industry. Although some businesses are struggling with integrating new technology into existing legacy systems, others have invested in updated systems over time. The issue is that most of these systems were designed to focus on recruitment and enrollment, not ongoing management of the needs and preferences of residents.

There now exists a sizable opportunity to extend, append, replace or introduce new data collection systems to tailor the experience for each resident and doing so is, for many reasons, becoming increasingly critical to the highly competitive process of attracting new residents. Overall advancements in technology have heightened the demand for personalization: From the purchases we make and the news we consume to how we do our banking, weve become accustomed to tailored service. Adult children, used to apps and messaging as efficient communication methods, have raised the expectation that technology is the preferred way to communicate. Seniors themselves are tech savvier; according to AARP, more than 90% Americans aged 50+ own a computer or laptop, 70% own a smartphone and over 40% own a tablet.

Left on the cutting room floor (so to speak) of most senior living businesses are the data that can be just as pertinent to an older adults overall wellbeing as food preferences or physical therapy needs: What are the interactions between the staff members and residents? Are there shared points of view between residents that need to be addressed? What entertainment or socialization services are being used most frequently, and to what outcome?

The opportunity exists to collect these data over days, weeks or even months and create a more accurate view both of the residents themselves, and the operations of the facility. The continuity and shared knowledge that this data collection will garner overtime could be invaluable and would not be affected (or lost forever) by staff turnover.

In addition, data can be used to consistently increase happiness and satisfaction among residents. From personalized calendars that manage social engagements to concierge services such as Amazon package shipments, cars for hire or food delivery, using collected data can expand the world of the senior resident. Real-time assessment and feedback, integration of clinical and wellness data and family outreach all could contribute to a residents wellbeing.

I know firsthand that my own mothers weekly trips from her senior residence to get her hair done brighten her mood substantially. Getting feedback about her outings not only would be invaluable to me; it also could aid in her facilitys management of her health and happiness.

Keep in mind, the data collection is only a tool; it is all about what is collected and how those data are used.Just as hotels collect data on their guests to better serve them and provide stellar customer service, the senior living industry can do the same.

Take a look at the Ritz Carltons leadership training principles, for instance, which are focused on building a culture that is fanatical about customer care. Principle number 3 is: I am empowered to create unique, memorable and personal experiences for our guests. The empowered portion of this principle is key. Staff members need to feel empowered to provide excellent care, and it should be the result of great staff training to give them confidence while also providing an appropriate span of control.

In addition, staff members need access to timely data with good historical facts that give an instant sense of how that resident is and what matters to him or her.This can be done in simple, intuitive interfaces that celebrate the resident. That empowerment, coupled with accessible data, can help provide care teams with the knowledge and inspiration they need to go above and beyond expectations.

Residents arent the only beneficiaries of data collection, however. Businesses can ensure staff efficiencies, offer timely responses through automation and use the data in the back office to manage operating budgets. Data also can help determine what new services are needed and track satisfaction among staff, residents and even family members.

Adjacent market opportunities abound with this type of commitment to end-to-end data collection systems. In using them, you have the ideal tool kit to move into servicing older adults who live in and around communities you already staff and operate.

Why not consider developing the age-in-place market and serving seniors in their homes? The fact that AARP says that 90% of aging adults wont move in to senior living communities at least until they have aged further is proof that the lifetime value of building services and relationships with seniors in their homes in an emerging large new greenfield ripe for growth. Data collection can help manage, elevate and enhance the experience for seniors and those who care for them.

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

– ‘Deep Down Dancing’ at Hill studio focuses on healing and passion – Chestnut Hill Local

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Julie Goldberg is leading Deep Down Dancing classes at the Healing Arts Studio, 15 W. Highland Ave.

by Brenda Lange

New to the area but an experienced practitioner in the art of dance and healthy self-expression, Julie Goldberg dance facilitator, coach and myofascial release therapist will launch a new, ongoing course at Chestnut Hills Healing Arts Studio, 15 W. Highland Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Goldberg, 29, who began dancing at age 13 mostly modern dance and jazz, with some ballet and improvisational performance work has always loved to dance, move and express herself creatively through the art form. She grew up in San Juan Capistrano, California, and earned her bachelors degree in dance from the University of Oregon. Most recently a resident of Brooklyn, Goldberg decided to move to the Philadelphia area after visiting family and friends here, and she currently lives in West Chester.

Over the years, occasional professional dancing work with small troupes offered mixed experiences when some companies didnt treat their dancers well or pushed them to do moves they werent ready for.

Through dance, I used my body to express the positive way I felt, but some of the negative experiences with some companies led me to identify certain things about that professional environment that felt toxic, Goldberg explained. I wanted to create something welcoming for women who have never danced before non-competitive and about how they feel, not how they look.

Often women who havent had training feel they dont belong or are not welcome in dance studios. It can be intimidating, but Goldberg has taught dance and Pilates and done personal training in workshops in Brooklyn and around the country and says her focus always has been on functional movement. I help people move better and more safely so they learn to move in the safest, healthiest ways.

Once she relocated to the Philadelphia area, she decided to establish a new type of class combining all she has learned and experienced. A Google search led her to the Healing Arts Studio and its founder, Jodi Schwartz- Levy, PhD, LPC. Goldberg had found a kindred spirit in her and in the mission of the studio.

Former professional dancer Julie Goldberg will launch Deep Down Dancing, a new, ongoing course at Chestnut Hills Healing Arts Studio, 15 W. Highland Ave., on Thursday, Sept. 19.

Her program was of interest to me because so much of what we do is around womens empowerment, said Schwartz-Levy. Its important for women to have a space to feel safe and do healing work through movement and dance.

Schwartz-Levy decided to bring in Goldberg to supplement the studios existing programs including yoga, modern dance and groups including mindful self-compassion and a no-diet, self-care collaboration for women struggling with food and body image.

The classes are intimate and put people at ease in a safe space for healing work in a beautiful studio in the heart of Chestnut Hill, added Schwartz-Levy.

Deep Down Dancing is for women who want to dance and express themselves in a supportive, non-competitive and fun environment, who want to be creative, have fun and meet others, Goldberg said, adding that she also loves free yet guided movement, and will include some choreography in the class.

Goldberg begins her classes with a simple, gentle, jazzy warmup, gradually building to stronger dance moves and ends with simple choreography. She also offers some circle time where participants may talk about what they are manifesting in their lives.

I like us to talk about moving emotionally as we move physically, Goldberg said. What do we want to embody in that days class? Well pick a word at the beginning of each class and embody it throughout maybe confidence or joy and then well end in a circle and reconnect around the word each woman chose to embody while doing some stretching and breathing exercises.

Goldberg explained that her approach is built around supporting women as they follow their passions and build their confidence. Her background in Pilates and as a personal trainer, in addition to her professional dance training and experience, has given her a knowledge of how the body moves best to find health and joy.

I do a lot of different things, but theyre all tied together from a desire to help others with healing and knowing and loving themselves on a deeper level, Goldberg said. Thats my mission. So others can live more fulfilling and freer lives.

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Director Lorene Scafaria on the true story and empathy of ‘Hustlers’ – Mashable

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Strippers drugging their wealthy clients, maxing out those clients' credit cards, laundering the stolen cash, and then relying on the scandal of it all to keep anyone who got hurt from going to the police: It's an impressive scam, and an even better story.

Enter Lorene Scafaria, a writer-director with guts to spare. Hustlers, her cinematic telling of this true tale, earned $33 million and sparked Oscars speculation during its opening last weekend creating a cultural moment almost as explosive as the events that inspired it.

The source material is Jessica Pressler's 2015 article "The Hustlers at Scores," an early chapter in the internet's ongoing fascination with scam culture. The story practically begged for an adaptation, and shortly after it was published, Gloria Sanchez Productions optioned the dazzling account and began accepting pitches from filmmakers ready to take it to the big screen.

"It felt like a world that we had seen in every TV show and movie ever, but so few had been told from the dancers' point of view."

"As soon as I was sent the article, I read it and thought this was a story I had to tell," Scafaria recalls for Mashable. "It felt like a world that we had seen in every TV show and movie ever, but so few had been told from the dancers' point of view."

Scafaria saw strip club culture as one of friendship and business, stuck in a destructive system designed to test loyalties of all kinds.

The film spotlights the complex relationship of partners in crime Destiny (Constance Wu) and Ramona (Jennifer Lopez), and the devastation that hit them in 2008 when Wall Streeters fell hard and took big money from the club scene down with them.

It's a perceptive and nuanced narrative, the kind rarely applied to female relationships in Hollywood let alone a relationship between two strippers.

"I think writing is always an exercise in empathy," Scafaria says of her approach. "I thought that this group of people who are commonly misunderstood, strippers. I felt like I would love to tell a story that normalizes their jobs and shows what it's like to do that for a living. There's certainly pros and cons to it, but it's a job like anything else."

Pressler's article captures the same general themes, but with a greater sense of estrangement between the story's two main characters. Casting Wu and Lopez, both currently among Hollywood's most beloved performers, Scafaria invested serious time and energy into creating a friendship that she felt audiences could invest in.

"When you read between the lines [of Pressler's article], you realize that these women had this really profound friendship and built this quote 'business' together, but here they are being interviewed separately," Scafaria remarks.

"I couldn't help but think there was a deeper story there. It just touched upon so many things. I wanted to talk about control, our values, the American Dream, money. It felt like a really organic way to get into this world and see it from a different side of the story."

"I wanted to talk about control, our values, the American Dream, money."

That different side is a spectacular one, overflowing with genuine emotion that doesn't stop at the two leading characters, but goes on to encompass the story's victims and other players as well.

"I felt like I grew up with these guys and these girls," Scafaria says. "I'm from New Jersey and I worked in a boiler room when I was 16 and 17, just answering calls and doing secretarial work. I was around all these guys on Wall Street selling bad stocks to old people in the late '90s. It was scary. I felt a responsibility to the authenticity of that, to get something right about the feeling of that."

"I wasn't trying to change people's minds about what's right or wrong."

To maintain accuracy, Scafaria interviewed strip club employees of all kinds, former and current, and consulted with Pressler regularly even incorporating a character inspired by Pressler (Julia Stiles) into the script as a kind of weather vane for the story's complex events.

"Obviously, I took a lot from the article and took a lot from what Jessica had uncovered, but I think it was a surprise to her when I said, 'I've written you into this,'" Scafaria recalls.

"Of course, the character isn't based on her real life or any specific details, but she is a big part of it. Like you see in the film, when [Pressler] wrote the article, she interviewed the women and the men and the cops, and they were all part of it."

Empathizing with each character in Hustlers is essential to getting the point of Scafarias film. It's more than a female empowerment movie, more than a scam movie, and more than an excuse to give us that incredible Usher cameo though it is also those things.

Hustlers is, simply put, a lot to take in because the story that inspired it was just as overwhelming.

"I wasn't trying to change people's minds about what's right or wrong," Scafaria insists. "I just thought if I could stay truthful to what happened and possibly pull back the curtain on those things a little bit more and tell a story with empathy for everybody the women and the men who are up against this broken values system then I saw this really human, personal story."

"I was still rewriting it just to make sure that I was making the movie I wanted to make and the movie that should be made."

During production, Scafaria's job, to empathize with her characters to the point of knowing them, sent her through countless rewrites, even as she faced numerous other obstacles including a battle for the director's chair.

"There was such a long period of time in which I was working on the script and fighting to get the directing job and fighting to get the movie made and then it fell apart and then it came back together," she recalls. "Then, I was still rewriting it just to make sure that I was making the movie I wanted to make and the movie that should be made. That process was a long process for me."

It was a three-year-long experience that assuredly made Scafaria better appreciate the world she had crafted. Looking back, Scafaria says she wishes she had more time to speak with the people her film sought to understand.

"I felt a huge responsibility to them and I only wish I had the luxury of meeting them ahead of time," Scafaria comments, adding that she wasn't able to speak to Roselyn Keo and Samantha Barbash, the real women who inspired Wu and Lopez's characters, until about halfway through production.

Keo has used the film to promote her book The Sophisticated Hustler, while Barbash has said she felt "betrayed" by her depiction, per The Independent. Barbash isnt alone. Numerous others have spoken out against Hustlers since its release, saying Scafarias film propagates harmful stereotypes.

For her part, Scafaria has since pledged a portion of any royalties she receives from Hustlers to improve working conditions and erasing the stigma surrounding strippers.

"I tried to tell the story with empathy and to see all sides of it, so I can only hope that that resonates with them and that they see that," Scafaria says. "You know, I was just trying to tell this true story and not necessarily paint anyone as a hero or a villain."

Hustlers is now showing in theaters.

Read more:
Director Lorene Scafaria on the true story and empathy of 'Hustlers' - Mashable

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Brunswick’s Carolyn Brady, first African American Miss Maine, will walk across a reinvented Miss America stage – Press Herald

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BRUNSWICK When Carolyn Brady rules the world, you wont see her doing it in a baby blue, sequined dress. Nor is that what she will wear when she walks across the Miss America stage this December.

While the 22-year-old-Miss Maine does, in fact want to both rule the world and take home the Miss America crown, she says she wants to do it her way: Probably in a jewel tone, and something that will lend weight to her words and embody Michelle Obama and Oprah Winfrey polished, poised, powerful and relatable.

Because for Brady, the first African American Miss Maine in the competitions history, it is about more than her dress and her looks. And now more than ever, Miss America is about more than that, too.

Following a 2017 scandal after the Huffington Post revealed a slew of emails in which executives shamed contestants bodies and personal lives, Miss America rebranded as Miss America 2.0. In its new iteration, with all-female leadership, Miss America is a competition, not a pageant, and the contestants are considered candidates. They did away with the swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants on physical appearance. The talent portion is weighed more heavily.

Miss America will represent a new generation of female leaders focused on scholarship, social impact, talent and empowerment said Gretchen Carlson, chairwoman of the Board of Trustees in a press release. Were experiencing a cultural revolution in our country with women finding the courage to stand up and have their voices heard on many issues. Miss America is proud to evolve as an organization and join this empowerment movement.

In addition to earning scholarships to further her education, Miss America will advocate for social issues important to her.

We want more young women to see this program as a platform upon which they can advance their desire to make a real difference and to provide them with the necessary skills and resources for them to succeed in any career path they choose, said Regina Hopper, president and CEO.

When Brady first started in the pageant circle a few years ago, the perception of Miss America was very much that Miss America wears a pretty dress and walks in a swimsuit, she said, but now they are trying to change that. Thats not the primary thing people should say. The goal is to have people say that she advocated for her social impact initiative, has ambitions parallel to our world leaders and makes a difference in her community, she said, adding that she hopes Miss America 2.0 can influence the standard women are held to in society.

You may not have girls (on stage) that have the perfect swimsuit bodies going forward, she said, but youll have girls who have some of the highest GPAs and highest career aspirations.

Brady is no exception to this new rule. A Philadelphia native and graduate of Bowdoin College, she now serves as an AmeriCorps member through the LearningWorks Aim High Program in Portland and supports students who need additional help to reach grade-level expectations in math and literacy. In addition to her title as Miss Maine, she works at Nordstrom Rack and the J. Crew Factory while also teaching spin classes.

Im constantly on the go, she said. I dont like days off.

Brady has always wanted to have influence. By middle school, she wanted to rule the world, she said, whether it was as president or by marrying into the royal family. Now, she hopes to one day work in the state department to figure out how we can make decisions between countries based on whats best for the people of those countries and minimize focus on bureaucracy, maximize focus on humanity. And then, of course, take over the world, she joked. She hopes Miss Americas focus on scholarship and service can help her do that.

Bradys focus on humanitarian work extends to her social impact platform, Immigration builds our nation, which she began even before the recent influx of hundreds of asylum seekers into Portland this summer.

Her platform seeks to highlight the contributions of refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants to the country and make sure our new friends are accepted into the community, she said.

She was crowned Miss Maine June 22, just in time for her to start helping the migrants sheltering at the Portland Expo. She has not yet worked with the recent asylum seekers in Brunswick but plans to reach out once they have had more time to settle in.

She intentionally chose a platform that probably has not been targeted by Miss Maine before, she said, and one that she could serve with more diligence as the first African American woman to hold the role, she said.

Though diversity in the state is growing as the immigrant population increases, Maine is not the most diverse state in the union, Brady said.

The US Census Bureau estimates that in 2018 (and in 2010) only 1.6% of Maines 1.3 million residents were African American, and only 1.8% identified as two or more races. Cumberland County, which includes both Brunswick and Portland, is slightly more diverse, with African Americans making up 3.1% of the population, according to the Census Bureau. The national average is 13.4%.

In the pageant world, Vanessa Williams was the first woman of African American descent to be crowned Miss America, taking home the title in 1984.

Last year, Miss America, Miss Teen USA and Miss USA were all African American for the first time in history.

Brady said she thinks there will be more African American Miss Maines in the future, but that it may take some time, as Maines African American population is not yet American. She believe that as time goes on, many immigrants will likely eventually fall into that camp.

When Brady first started competing in pageants as a way to make new friends, she advocated for more arts education, since she started playing violin at 5 years old.

She has been playing for 17 years and will take her talent to the Miss America stage in December. Instead of playing classical tunes, like Miss California, Brady will play Broadway music, and said the performance aspect matters just as much, if not more to her than her playing.

It used to be that if you didnt sing and dance you were an anomaly, she said, but this year Bradys Broadway violin performance will fit right in among the other talents like clogging, speed painting and even a science experiment.Miss Maine has never walked away with the Miss America crown, so the bar is set exponentially low, Brady said, but it is also the first year the contestants will be competing under the new rules.

She hopes to conquer the Miss America stage in December then, the world.




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Brunswick's Carolyn Brady, first African American Miss Maine, will walk across a reinvented Miss America stage - Press Herald

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September 19th, 2019 at 6:41 am

Empowerment in Action: How to Empower Your Employees

Posted: July 3, 2019 at 6:46 am

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Are you interested in your own personal empowerment or the empowerment of your employees? Employers and employees both have unrealistic perceptions about what empowerment is and how it's supposed to work in real time.

Empowerment is the process of enabling or authorizing an individual to think, behave, take action, and control work and decision-making about their job in autonomous, independent, self-directed ways. It is the state of feeling self-empowered to take control of your destiny.

Empowerment is feeling in control of your work environment and that you have permission to make decisions in the areas you control and are responsible for in your job.

When thinking about empowerment in human relations terms, try to avoid thinking of it as something that one individual does for another. It is one of the problems organizations have experienced with the concept of empowerment. People think that someone, usually the manager, has to bestow empowerment on the people who report to him or her.

Consequently, the reporting staff members wait for the bestowing of empowerment, and the manager asks why people won't act in empowered ways. This bestowing and waiting has led to a general unhappiness, mostly undeserved, with the concept of empowerment in many organizations. Don't let that happen in your organization. Your best success will result from empowered employees taking actionnot waiting for permission.

Think of empowerment, instead, as the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision making in autonomous ways. Empowerment comes from the individual.

The organization has the responsibility to create a work environment which helps foster the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. The work organization has the responsibility to remove barriers that limit the ability of staff to act in empowered ways.

Think, too, of empowerment as an employee philosophy and strategy that organizations benefit from adopting. Empowered employees, who are operating within an organization's strategic framework that includes mission and goals increase the productivity and effectiveness of the workplace.

They are enabled to perform their jobs more efficiently and effectively without feeling as if they are waiting for a decision, waiting for direction, and waiting for permission to act. They become more responsible and accountable when self-direction is the norm.

Employee involvement and participative management are often used to mean empowerment. They are not interchangeable. Each describes a different characteristic of an effective workplace.

These are examples of empowerment in action.

The manager of the Human Resources department added weeks to the process of hiring new employees by requiring his supposedly empowered staff members to obtain his signature on every document related to the hiring of a new employee. Consequently, documents sat on his desk in a pile until he had time to review them.

When the time problem was brought to his attention and the fact that is actions impeded empowered behavior, he fostered empowerment by telling employees they no longer needed his signature unless the hire involved extraordinary circumstances or an executive position.

John empowered himself to discuss the career objectives he wished to pursue with his supervisor. He told his supervisor, frankly, that if the opportunities were not available in his current company, he would move on to another company.

Mary took charge of her career by fueling her sense of empowerment when she developed a career path plan, met with her manager to ask for her assistance to achieve it, and set goals for its accomplishment in her performance development plan.

The company's management style involved sharing the goals, sharing each employee's expectations and framework with the employee, and then, getting out of the way while employees were empowered to set goals, accomplish their objectives, and determine how to do their jobs.

The organization operated in a team-based structure in which each development team had the authority and autonomy to determine the features and capabilities of their product. They did this in conjunction with the overall technology leadership and with serious input from the marketing team.

Empowerment is a desirable management and organizational style that enables employees to practice autonomy, control their own jobs, and use their skills and abilities to benefit both their organization and themselves.

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Empowerment in Action: How to Empower Your Employees

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July 3rd, 2019 at 6:46 am

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