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Dress for Success CEO Joi Gordon

Each year, Dress for Success provides interview clothing and accessories to about 70,000 job-seeking women worldwide and also offers training in résumé writing, financial literacy and wellness, along with other programs. Since its launch in 1996, the nonprofit has opened branches in more than 140 cities in 20 countries. "Our mission is to give women the support they need to get back into the workplace," says CEO Joi Gordon, who has been witht he group for 17 years and has seen it grow by nearly 375 percent under her leadership. "It starts with a suit, but it really goes far beyond the clothes. We want to treat every woman who walks in our door with dignity and respect, and give her the tools to succeed in work and in life."

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Lauren Udoh, 29

"I never imagined working in an office, which I do now," says Lauren, an executive assistant for the state of New York. "Dress for Success helped me learn career skills like time management, putting together a résumé and having a proper work ethic."

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Eva Cardona, 38

Eve, a community associate and team leader at a municipal housing agency, came to Dress for Success nearly six years ago and joined its Professional Women's Group. "It's served as a support to remind me of my worth and how resilient I am," she says. "Clothes are a material item, but when you wear a nice outfit, you feel empowered."

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Donna Flaherty, 48

After looking unsuccessfully for employment for three years, Donna booked an appointment at Dress for Success and found a job three months later. "Dress for Success gave me back a lot of my self-esteem, which had taken a beating," says Donna, now a bookkeeper and administrator for a plumbing company. "The right clothing makes me feel important, like I matter more."

Photos: Scott M. Lacey


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