A GW professor created a network of business women by collecting personal stories to communicate, teach, share and mentor others about how to negotiate finding a balance between having a personal life and school or work-the Hot Mammas Project.
Kathy Korman Frey, a GW professor of the women’s entrepreneurial leadership class, consultant and entrepreneur, founded the Hot Mommas Project, which is a collection of inspiring case studies featured in Prentice Hall textbooks, the organization’s Web site, and taught in her GW class.
The Hot Mommas Project uses a software program specifically designed for the project and the Hot Mommas Web site. It guides each woman through the process of writing her story so that she can teach others through her story and what she has learned.
“The effect is much more than I had originally anticipated. I realized it was bigger than just one person writing case studies,” Frey said.
The Hot Momma’s project has taken off, especially in the last few years. The Hot Momma’s Project Case Competition began in 2008 and awards three women prize and publishes their cases in a Prentice Hall textbook.
“We all need mentors, people who have touched our lives. I know that even if I have never met a person their story can touch me deeply and provide needed inspiration,” said Lasara Allen, the second runner up in the 2009 case competition.
Allen’s case is about the difficulty of negotiating life, work, and a family while living with bipolar disorder. Her case is about how to deal with bipolar disorder and what it took for her to start a successful business and maintain balance in her life.
The stories are about “real people rather than the scrubbed version they sometimes get,” Frey said.
Frey said women who write their stories are profoundly affected by the ability to reflect and possibly help others.
“Each segment of the writing process brought out different aspects of my life worth paying attention to,” said Lydia Fernandes, the Canadian regional manager of the Hot Mommas Project. “In the end, writing my story meant even more than helping other women. It gave me the chance to celebrate ‘me’ and think, ‘Wow, look at my journey!'”
Frey uses the cases from the Hot Momma’s Project in her women’s entrepreneurial leadership class, and her cases find their way into classrooms across the nation and internationally through their Web site and the Prentice Hall textbook.
In addition to her project infiltrating her class, it has become part of her consulting firm as well. The focus on women and business “has kind of taken over” and companies often approach her about starting mentoring programs, Frey said.
The consulting firm became a way to test out the life she wanted and the consultants she took on were women like her, who wanted more flexibility.
“I actually felt I was falling victim to the inefficiency of others. That I could probably get 18 hours of work done in 10,” Frey said.
Her original “hot mommas” were driven, skilled women who wanted a more entrepreneurial lifestyle. With the expansion of the project and the case competition the hot mommas have expanded to include dynamic women who come from varied places and backgrounds.
“It’s taught me a lot about what’s really going on behind closed doors of offices, homes and schools, and how these amazing women are making it work,” Frey said.
The article has been revised to reflect the following correction: (Feb. 19)
The article originally spelled Lydia Fernandes’ last name Fernades.