Seriously Catherine – Navigating Non-Profits with Ashli Fragomeni | Episode 18 – Palette
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Seriously Catherine – Navigating Non-Profits with Ashli Fragomeni | Episode 18

Ashli Fragomeni, Executive Director of Girls Inc of the Greater Capital Region, discusses Girls Inc’s mission to inspire girls to be strong, smart, and bold through STEM activities, mentorship, and confidence-building.

Explore the challenges and triumphs of Girls Inc, navigating the non-profit sector during the pandemic, and their commitment to community engagement.

Whether you’re a woman, a girl, or a community member, this episode sparks motivation to empower the next generation.

HOT TAKES: Superbowl! Halftime Show! Taylor Swift! Need we say more?!

SARATOGA: John Legend is coming to town, and SPAC is lining up some great concerts for us this summer!

FACE PALM MOM: Superbowl hungover after a Mardi Gras party. We can all relate at some point.

Don’t forget to check out Saratoga Living’s After Hours for what’s new and happening in Saratoga!

Shoutout to Hoffman’s Car Wash!

⇩ Find Catherine ⇩

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/catherinehover/

Palette Co-Work Community: https://www.instagram.com/thepalettecommunity/

Paint and Sip: https://www.instagram.com/saratogapaintandsip/

 

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*This Transcript is Autogenerated*

Ashli Fragomeni 0:00
So when someone comes to me and says, I want you to run this program, there was a time in my career where I where I would have said yes, because I would have been worried that the board would have said, why would you turn down that chakra? Why would you turn down that opportunity? I have learned through saying yes, too much that no is a complete sentence. And sometimes I don’t have to necessarily justify it. Sometimes we just can’t

Catherine Hover 0:27
welcome to seriously Catherine a podcast about taking your business seriously, but not yourself. Alright, y’all, so this week’s heartache revolves around the Superbowl. And I watched pretty much all day all the coverage from noon until I think it was 12 hours. Obviously, I loved seeing Taylor there, I knew for sure she was going to make it there. So for those of you that don’t know, she just ended her Tokyo performance. And so it was like 13 hour flight from Tokyo to Vegas, and it was the night before. So people were like, you know, speculating that she would not be able to make it but like, Okay, if you’re Taylor Swift, you’re not like flying commercial, you’re you got your own plane, you can sleep for 13 hours if you needed to. So I knew for sure she was gonna be able to get there. So I was excited to see her there. But specifically about the halftime show. And people are always so opinionated about the halftime show, like people either love it or they hate it. They always have something to say. And I was really, really excited that Asscher was going to be the halftime show. And they kept on saying like all along that he was going to be like this solo act, but I felt in my soul that he was going to have people come up on the stage with him and do this performance with him. And I almost died. When we saw Alicia Keys come out. She looked fabulous in this like red cat suit Cape thing. It was amazing. The piano was like really cool. Anyway, then, then, oh my god, I was freaking out. When Little John showed up. I was freaking out. I was like standing up dancing. It was just like so much fun. And it brought me back to like, I don’t know, 2005 When I’m in college, and that song would come on and and it’s also a very big New Orleans Saints song. Like if you’re at a football game in the Superdome. That song comes on. And people just like go insane. So I was so excited to see him. And I mean, people were like, oh my god, did he have to take off his shirt? Yes. He’s Asscher. Of course, he had to take off his shirt. Like I would have been appalled if he didn’t take off his shirt. Like we’re talking about Usher. I was telling my sister in law, like leading up to him like he’s going to roller skate. And she’s like, what? And I’m like, Yeah, Asha likes to roller skate. He’s like a big He’s an avid supporter of Roller Skating. And he’s very talented. Like he like can do the spins and flips and all that stuff. And of course, he showed up for that it was awesome. Lil Jon was the like, I think just the most explosive surprise to me is I just like was so excited to like, turn down. I mean, another like just Super Bowl commentary is like Travis Kelce. Like getting really his temper was on display when he like manhandled Andy Reid and people are very very disappointed in Travis Kelce about it, but listen, it’s an intense game, okay, like boy was pissed that he was taken out of the game and then there was a fumble and he felt like okay, if Andy would have kept him in, we wouldn’t have had that fumble so I don’t think we can even judge the intensity and the stress and I mean, we were I was stressed I was stressed when I was like watching this game is pretty uneventful up into the overtime, the pregame shows leading up to the Superbowl. There was an interview with Andy Reed and he kind of talked about Travis Kelce having a bad temper early on in his career, and once that’s been redirected and focused he’s an elite athlete right but it’s like the tempers has been an issue. All right, and that’s my hot take guys agree. Disagree? Let me know. Let me know. slide into my DMs. Tell me what you really think. This week in Saratoga, they announced that John Legend is coming to SPAC and maybe Chrissy Tegan will be here too, and their little their kids are adorable. Their daughter Luna is a Girl Scout just like my daughter Posey, and, you know, shameless plug Girl Scout Cookie season is upon us. So if you want some Girl Scout cookies, we got you the name of the event is called an evening with John Legend a night of songs and stories. Now, mind you, he’s got an EGOT Do you know what I got is? It means that you have an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award? That’s like, Mind Blow, right? He is incredible. It just seems like he’s just the full package. And I’m excited. He’s coming back. He’s coming to Saratoga Springs. I mean, how cool would it be to run into him on Broadway just just walking along? I wonder where he’ll stay? Or maybe he’ll stay in a trailer like his own trailer he’ll bring into town or do you think he’ll say that Delphi? Do you think you’ll get an air b&b? That would be funny. If you’re an Airbnb host, and you know, John Legend is staying there. So I’m going to take this opportunity right now to talk more about SPAC because I don’t know if you You’re aware, but if you live in Saratoga, and you haven’t been to a spec show, you’re missing out on the experience of Saratoga Springs and the summertime Live Nation. tickets went on sale as well. Like right now you can get a season a lawn passes for like 200 bucks, maybe it’s like 225 or something like that, but it’s like, oh, well worth it. Even if you’re not going to go to every single concert, the New York City Ballet comes the Philadelphia Orchestra comes. It’s just it’s just like a vibe. They have this VIP building now to where they you know, you can like overlook the lawn, which is sort of snobby. But it’s a really great view SPAC is not just about musical performances. They’re doing these culinary art events. Now, there’s other people that are coming this summer because they’re announcing new people like pretty much every day. I don’t know if Dave is announced yet but he usually comes every summer he usually does like three nights of shows who else the Beach Boys are coming, which I am so excited about that Hootie and the Blowfish is coming Earth Wind and Fire would be good kids Bob that was Posies first concert for Paula Abdul and New Kids on the Block. Oh, Paula, she’s still got it. Doobie Brothers. That’d be good. Oh, and Harry Potter. I saw Harry Potter so they basically do like a night. It’s like a movie night under the stars. So the Philadelphia Orchestra plays like the soundtrack of Harry Potter and they’re also doing the Lion King to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Lion King. I mean, if you got nothing from this clip, get this go buy a lawn pass like season pass right now like locals you got to buy I would just buy a whole season. It’s like 200 something dollars. You won’t regret it. That’s a wrap. All right, this week’s guest on seriously Catherine is Ashley fragmente. She is the executive director of Girls Inc of the greater capital region. She is also a Taylor Swift Fan, which we get into a little bit. I’m so excited for this conversation. She also spent some time in New Orleans because she worked there for a hot minute for the YMCA. And I’m so excited to introduce you to Ashley. She’s an incredible like powerhouse leader in our region. She is actually getting one of the empowerment awards for the YWCA. All right, let’s get into it. All right. On this week’s episode, my guest is Ashley fragmente. Which is the coolest, the coolest name ever. Yes. Do people call you frag the crag rags? frags. Yeah, I thought Yeah, I was like, there’s definitely a nickname here. And you are the executive director of Girls Inc, of the greater capital region. And what does that encompass?

Ashli Fragomeni 7:27
So what encompasses right now Albany, Troy and Schenectady a Troy only just knew in 2022

Catherine Hover 7:32
Wow. So like that was your doing? Yes. So when did you start working for Girls Inc?

Ashli Fragomeni 7:36
in May of 2020.

Catherine Hover 7:38
Wow, what an exciting time, right? I mean, were you looking for a job, but like in March of 2020, where you’re like, Oh, my God, I hope I don’t get that job now, because that’s gonna be a

Ashli Fragomeni 7:45
shitshow. I’ve always worked in nonprofit. So I the reason I love nonprofit is because I feel like my personal mission and the mission of human service nonprofits serving organizations that run parallel. Yeah. So I’ve spent 13 or 14 years with the YMCA locally, a bunch of different YMCAs. And then I saw the job posting for girls. And I thought to myself, Okay, like, this mission is crazy aligned with who I want to be as a person. Yeah. So I applied and then was offered the job, actually, on March 13, of 2020. And that was when I’m sorry, that was my last interview. And then I was offered the job. And I was like, Are you sure? And they said, Yes. But they’re like, take some time. But then yeah, May of 2020. We started I was remote. I didn’t even go in the office until like the end of June.

Catherine Hover 8:27
Wow. Yeah. Okay, in a nutshell, what does what is Girls, Inc? And what do they do? So

Ashli Fragomeni 8:31
our mission is to inspire all girls to be strong, smart and bold. We do it in a variety of ways. My favorite ways that we do it are focusing on STEM based activities to keep girls interested in STEM, introducing them to the world of mentorship and having a healthy relationship with their own mental health. And then really focusing on their confidence and self esteem as they move through grade school, middle school, high school and then into career.

Catherine Hover 8:52
That’s awesome. Yeah. And is there after when I think girls think I think like after school program,

Ashli Fragomeni 8:57
yes, after school for K through seventh graders right now. Okay. And then college and career readiness for eighth through 12th graders

Catherine Hover 9:04
amazing. And so you said you just launched in Troy, where it was your office, and you’re utilizing like gyms and up schools.

Ashli Fragomeni 9:11
So we actually in Troy, I was in a leadership or a Chamber of Commerce event, like a networking event. And I was sitting next to Liz Reese, who’s the CEO at the Art Center. And I was giving my elevator pitch about what Girls Inc is and how I can’t wait to get into Rensselaer County and we’re just looking for space. And she kind of gave me like one of these and she was you can come to New York summer, I said was like it cannot be that easy. She’s like, Oh, it’s that easy. You can come to the Art Center. So

Catherine Hover 9:35
cool. And what’s next? Like? I mean, I think just when you started you’re like, having to get through COVID was an undertaking and then you set your eyes on, you know, expanding into this new area, Troy and I’m sure you know, you’re like me, you’re like, what’s next? What’s next? Right?

Ashli Fragomeni 9:49
I don’t like to be stagnant for long like I want to keep moving. I think the next thing is just continuing to push the fact that girls think is a brand and a resource and we want people to know about So if you’re a woman, we want you to know about it, because we want you to be connected to us so that you can inspire girls. If you’re a girl, we want you to know about the resource that we can be for you. And if you’re part of the community that we’re in, we want to be a community resource. And if we’re not in your community yet, we want to know you so that we can get into your committee.

Catherine Hover 10:14
Yeah, we’ve talked about this before, but we got to do some things in Saratoga. Yeah, he’s the girls in Saratoga to feel strong and smart and bold. Is that it? Yes, yes. I like that. Well, we

Ashli Fragomeni 10:24
did have our first event a pallet. Yes. Which was so awesome. Which was so successful. Yes. It was amazing. We had all the entrepreneurs under the age of 18 come in and sell their goods and wares. It was amazing.

Catherine Hover 10:36
I bought bracelets. I bought cookies. I bought a book. We had an author here. She was adorable. And I was just like so inspired. And I brought Posey Of course I have a nine year old, my oldest is nine and I brought Posey with me and I think it’s just so important for her to see examples. I mean of people kicking ass and like and doing the thing, you know, you don’t have to wait until you’re a certain age. I think it’s important for girls, not only girls, but also women. You know, you can start doing any of this work anytime. Absolutely. Like volunteer. Well, it’s never too late.

Ashli Fragomeni 11:05
It’s never too late. And I think it’s never too early.

Catherine Hover 11:07
It’s never too early and too or too late. Right?

Ashli Fragomeni 11:10
The time is now. Now,

Catherine Hover 11:12
he can take the action. Right? Okay, I did want to point out that you spent some time in New Orleans when people spend time in New Orleans like we have a connection now and we’ll we’ll be friends for life.

Ashli Fragomeni 11:23
Yes, I went to New Orleans area. So I was actually on the West Bank. So I may say

Catherine Hover 11:27
the best thing. They do the best thing but I’m not West. I’m not I’m not one of those people. Where did you actually grow? I grew up in New Orleans East. Oh, okay. Oh, yeah. Oh hum of Master P. And and me. And probably little Wayne and maybe little Wayne. He’s and he was a Ninth Ward Ward, but different neighborhoods.

Ashli Fragomeni 11:44
So yeah. So I was on the West Bank and beltway specifically and I helped open a YMCA there. They had never had one. So it was part of the Greater New Orleans Association. And I spent three and a half years down there. Wow. Did

Catherine Hover 11:56
you like out of nowhere did you like just find a job apply for it got it. You like moving to New Orleans. So

Ashli Fragomeni 12:01
I had been working for the YMCA. And I had gone to high school here in college here that I was working locally. And I was like, Oh man, I’m 20 whatever I need to experience life outside of the greater capital region. So I applied nationally to a few different associations. And I landed in New Orleans and that was it. I was like this was a great place to land.

Catherine Hover 12:20
Did Katrina move you away? Like what moves you back?

Ashli Fragomeni 12:23
I came back, honestly, because I’m a Family girl. And I really miss

Catherine Hover 12:27
you miss your mama. My mama. Yeah, yeah, home is where your mama live. No, it’s

Ashli Fragomeni 12:32
so true.

Catherine Hover 12:32
It’s hard. It’s hard to be away. I mean, I’m away from home. And it’s really, really hard. I mean, I get very homesick especially on like, Sundays like Sunday is such a big family day when you know, growing up, it was a revolving door. And we I grew up on the same street as all my cousins. So it’s like if you didn’t like what you were being served for dinner, on any particular night, you could just go next door or across the street and get something else. And I don’t know, it was just like that. I don’t have that here. And it’s hard. Yeah, to be away. Yeah. I mean, there’s nothing like New Orleans.

Ashli Fragomeni 13:02
No, it’s the best place to really learn that you can work hard and play hard and slow down and move at a fast pace. Like you can do it all. Yeah, if you can survive New Orleans, you can do it

Catherine Hover 13:11
all. Yeah, and you can you can eat healthy there. It’s very hard. I

Ashli Fragomeni 13:15
didn’t learn that until I started visiting after I lived there. Then

Catherine Hover 13:19
you boomerang back. I love good boomerang story.

Ashli Fragomeni 13:22
Yes, I came back I worked in Glens Falls, I was actually just telling the story to somebody earlier, I was hired for a job that I probably could have done with my eyes closed. But they were interviewing, I was down to the final two and they hired me and the man that they were interviewing, they split the job in half. So I did that for a little while. What

Catherine Hover 13:39
was that about? Do you think they had to choose both of you like you’re just both so remarkable. It was a two person job.

Ashli Fragomeni 13:45
So I love the guy that got hired now. Okay, so his name is Tyler. But I will say that at the time that we both got hired, I think what happened was the leadership was an old boys club. And so they looked at Tyler and his personality, which was fun and charismatic and you’re drawn to it and they thought, that’s gold, we have to have that. And then they looked at me and thought, wow, she could do this job with her eyes closed. And they had to have that too. So I think it was the best of both worlds. Like if they could have taken those parts of each of us and made one or Megatron, they would have done that. So they had to hire both of us to get what they wanted at the time. Yeah.

Catherine Hover 14:18
Okay. I guess I accept that when Tyler now he is he the executive director of a successful nonprofit?

Ashli Fragomeni 14:25
I don’t think he’s the executive director of one but he does work for one. Okay, cool. That’s good. All right.

Catherine Hover 14:30
We’d like Tyler. Yeah, we’d like to Alright, fine.

Ashli Fragomeni 14:32
I learned a lot because I had to share an office with him too.

Catherine Hover 14:34
Oh,

Ashli Fragomeni 14:35
I’ll tell you what, you want to learn something about yourself. She shared an office with a man

Catherine Hover 14:39
with somebody else. Yeah. Yeah. So let’s talk about the the girls who make up girls saying about you know, the students. Yeah, students is a great way to where to put it. Yeah, yeah. What What’s that experience? Like? I mean, is it like I’m joining like a club. So when a student

Ashli Fragomeni 14:52
or a family comes to us and says, you know, I want my daughter to come here. What does it look like? The first thing we do is kind of get their stats. What do they need? Right? because we’re serving a girl today, that’s not the same girls, they were five years ago. So their age is really important. Making sure that we have people around them that are that same age, we don’t usually have this, but we want to make sure that we have enough of an age group that we’re serving. So that’s really important to us. But then it’s really making sure that the parents understand that they’re coming in here for an after school program that’s curriculum based. So they’re going to get media literacy, financial literacy, healthy sexuality, Healthy Mind, Body Spirit, where it’s like, all encompassing. So it’s important that they know that because it’s not just your average after school program. Yeah. And it’s free for the participants. So my job is to fundraise for all of that, and to make sure that that can stay free for everybody. But that’s obviously an attractor, right? Because if you’ve ever paid for childcare, free childcare, it’s insane to pay for it, like it’s so much money. So having a knowledge base with the parents is really like the first and foremost piece of it. And then it’s really making sure that they feel comfortable there and that they feel like they’re getting what they need out of it. We can’t serve everybody. It’s not realistic to say that we’re going to be the right space for every single person. So making sure a girl really, truly can thrive in our programs is so important. Do

Catherine Hover 16:02
you need like mentors? Because why is childcare so expensive? It’s payroll. It’s like, you know, having people responsible people watching your children, you know, so you have staff or is all volunteer base.

Ashli Fragomeni 16:13
So we have staff and it’s really important to me and my leadership staff that we’re hiring staff that work in the communities we serve. So the Troy staff live in Troy, the Schenectady, Southland, Schenectady, Albany staff live in Albany, I think that’s super important to the development of the girl as well. And then outside of that, once they become middle school aged, we have our Council of Women for girls, which is made up of those powerhouse women from the Capital Region, who mentor the girls through the Eureka program, which college and career readiness, yes,

Catherine Hover 16:35
and you have some events coming up, which I’m really excited about. And I want to say you’ve been thinking outside of the box and training events that are like very engaging and pulling people in, which is amazing, and it’s not easy to do.

Ashli Fragomeni 16:48
It’s not easy to do. And I’m very lucky to have a very innovative very special director of philanthropic impact that just joined our team, mr. Duncan. Yeah, how our house Yeah, and so she is really pushing me to to think outside the box and get a little bit more innovative. But we also have really great board members, like the first person that comes to mind when I think about our events is Jennifer Murphy thing. Yep, who put together our Toro event. And that’s all volunteer run. That is gold that is so priceless to nonprofits to have a group of women who are like, yeah, we’ll run this event. Yeah.

Catherine Hover 17:16
And man, are you doing that you must be collaborating with already the Black Chamber right? Because the Shauna was a girl’s being short with

Ashli Fragomeni 17:23
girls and girl. Yep, we’ve collaborated with her on some keynotes. And she’s toured our girls around the facility. So it’s great. It’s a great point. She’s

Catherine Hover 17:29
another boomerang there.

Ashli Fragomeni 17:30
Yep. Yeah. So

Catherine Hover 17:31
I like talking to people who I mean are from here, left area came back. I really love talking to transplants who have chosen to live here and build their their businesses and raise families here and stuff. I just think it gives you a unique perspective on how amazing this community is. And the capital region is where it’s at. There’s so many resources, it’s a great place to live and work and play. I love talking to people with that. I love a good boomerang story.

Ashli Fragomeni 17:56
Yeah. So and it’s nice to be able to serve the community in which I’m from. Yeah, there’s nothing really like that. Yeah, you know. So what I love about the capital region and being from here and serving the community in which I’m from is also the partnerships that come with it. So we have so many great partners, especially lately, we’ve been working with WIPO on an event where we’re going to be recipients of a fundraiser that they’re running. We are working with the Kinect center to host and Walter Thorne to host bingo for the first time ever. Yeah, at the Connect Center. It’s gonna be so fun seat centers providing the food so it’s like an ultra collaboration and I’m so excited about that. And it’s on March 8, which is International Women’s Day.

Catherine Hover 18:32
So Bingo is my jam. It’s Walter’s orange jam. I am so you know, I like to be involved the kids with my kids in the school so I signed up like two years ago to be like the bingo lady. Yes. And so last year, I had so much fun, more fun than any of the kids like calling the numbers. It was so fun. We got to old school bingo like call machine and it was so much fun. That’s the night of it’s actually Mardi Gras day. But yeah, we don’t know about Mardi Gras PR

Ashli Fragomeni 19:00
we do a little bit know about Mardi Gras up here. We do a little bit.

Catherine Hover 19:05
At last year’s Mardi Gras acted like it was Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Yeah. And I respect I don’t know if anybody else respected that. That’s a

Ashli Fragomeni 19:15
great event, though. It’s pretty true to form. I mean, it felt like Margarita does

Catherine Hover 19:18
the foods there. Yeah, it says the food this is what I really love about Capitol Region is that all the leaders in the capitol region are super accessible. You know, like no one is like too busy or too important to meet you for coffee or something. I love that it’s a community that you can really get engaged in. You can know all the players, you can work with them, you can support them vice versa, I think when I started to lean into the capital region as a whole, like I remember when I first moved here, I moved to Saratoga and I hadn’t gone to Schenectady unless I was going to practice you know, I’m saying like, I had to really get out of that bubble. And when I did oh man, oh man, did we start to like have a really good time? You know, so I think like that was also during COVID When I started to like really open up and be like, Okay, well we got some They’re really special here. So that’s what I love about it.

Ashli Fragomeni 20:02
It’s great. And I think to your point about the leaders all being accessible, they’re also willing to share like nobody’s gatekeeping. Right? I think for me, it’s been as a newer executive, let me put it this way. I have been made to feel like I can ask a question,

Catherine Hover 20:16
right? Like, you don’t feel like oh, like, Who’s this broad coming along? In thinking she’s gonna run Girls Inc? And there’s no, there’s like, there’s support. There’s optimism, and there’s a forward path.

Ashli Fragomeni 20:27
Yeah. And I probably feel comfortable saying that to you, because you’ve been one of the people who hasn’t, like, kept anything from me like you’re willing to have the conversation. Oh, yeah. I think like an open book. Yeah. And I think that there’s enough people that are willing to have the conversation that outweigh the people who are not,

Catherine Hover 20:41
I just think about this, like, what’s the harm that it can do for me to introduce you to somebody that’s going to be that’s going to help you right? Oh, no harm in that. Like, if anything, that person would be like, thanks for letting me help this person that made me feel good. I’m all about helping people help more people, because that’s what makes me feel good, like help a sister out here, here, here, here. Hey, man, can I get an amen? So as an executive director of Girls, Inc, I’m sure you experience and see a lot of hardship, and you’re helping girls through their adolescence at a time when they’re just so sensitive and impressionable. And how do you manage that? And what do you what would you say is like your biggest challenge?

Ashli Fragomeni 21:19
My biggest challenge, I think, or a no, my biggest challenge is that I represent an organization where a majority of the girls 84% of them specifically identify as girls of color, and 63% of them live at or below the poverty level. I am a white woman who grew up with two parents that lived in wine and skill and a house who never went hungry. Yeah, all of the things. There’s a lot of imposter syndrome to use a hot button word that comes with that, because how can I go out in the community and represent a girl that I have never walked in their shoes? Yeah. So I spent a lot of time talking to other leaders, specifically Walter Thorne, Dakota Jones about that, and and they were super helpful. And the whole like, this is a transferable skill, like you work in human service. And you can go out there and you can represent the girls because you at least know how to be a girl. Right? Yeah. And I think that that’s the thing that always ties me back to the work is we’ve all been in middle school. We’re all we’ve all gone through adolescence, we’ve all been scared of something. We’ve all had crazy body issues that you know, we have to overcome our mental health, all of it. What scares me about the work? Is that all of the resources that do exist, we’re still so needed, like, when is it gonna go away? You know, never,

Catherine Hover 22:35
never, never. We just need more people helping more people supporting and more people yet being of support. Yeah. to the cause. Yeah, it’s exasperated, right. Yeah, as time goes on, and we continue, you know, just the economy. Right, right. It’s hard.

Ashli Fragomeni 22:49
And we talk, you know, we talked about how the capital region is so dense with nonprofits, there’s a reason that it’s so dense with nonprofits, because every single resource is necessary. Yeah.

Catherine Hover 22:58
And they’re all Yeah, they’re also needed. And they’re also wonderful. And that’s why I love the opportunity to demonstrate what it looks like to collaborate and to help each other and not reinvent the wheel, but like, take these two organizations and do an event together and have the proceeds and the exposure, because the other part of the resources too, is that there’s only so many people who live in the capital region, you know, we can’t all give to everything. And we can’t all volunteer for every organization, we can’t all attend every event, you know, so how is it can we sort of like close the gap and support each other in ways that are more creative and outside of the box? And I mean, you’re doing that it’s incredible to see, I’m seeing girls in everywhere. And it’s cool to see it in with different organizations, and you’re doing such a great job of the collaboration piece. And that should ain’t easy. You know, like, there are some people who were like, you know, what, yeah, I’m just not going to play in the sandbox with you. Right?

Ashli Fragomeni 23:42
And you have to know what you want. Like I was just having this conversation with a partner, they said, you know, in lieu of kind of all of the work that it takes to do this one specific thing with the girls, what if we just write you a check? Now, there’s a point in time at a nonprofit where that is a dream to hear, right? Like, just write me the check. Yes, thank you so much. I looked square in that person’s face. And I was like, No way, I cannot sacrifice the experience that the girls get from the type of partner you are for a check. Like there’s no dollar that’s worth that. So I think what’s really cool about the the density of nonprofits and the people that are willing to collaborate, is that you can know what you want. And you can ask for it with each other. And you can have each partnership is unique to itself. Yeah. So what does it look like for me to work with you versus what does it look like for me to work with someone else? And how does all of that tie back to the bigger picture of inspiring and empowering the girls?

Catherine Hover 24:31
Yeah, yeah, I think I mean, shit, I will take a track. I know, I know. But a lot of times, you get the check, and it comes with strings, right? It’s like, I’m paying you for this particular program. And a lot of times it’s like this program doesn’t exist. That’s not what I need the money for. So you know, I think it’s yeah, it’s really important to be clear on what you need and why you need it and what you’re gonna do with it. And I mean, it’s the same like Junior Achievement. They call me all the time because they need people to come into the classrooms and talk about a different way of doing it right. They don’t want to have like the same example go to medical school like that’s not the reality for most of the people, I need it in just a different example of what it looks like to to be a successful person, right? If we not, I’m gonna say all stay in our lane because I think all these lanes advanced simultaneously, but recognize what the people around you are doing and what they’re working on so that you can help advance them as well. Right? I don’t know if this any of this is making any sense whatsoever. But my point is like, yes, the money, it’s not all about the money, right? Engagement, it’s about the the mentorship. Sure you need a lot of right

Ashli Fragomeni 25:31
and right. So to take it a step further from from the nonprofit perspective, like when someone comes to me and says, I want you to run this program. There was a time in my career where I where I would have said yes, because I would have been worried that the board would have said, why would you turn down that checker? Why would you turn down that opportunity? I have learned through saying yes, too much that no is a complete sentence. And sometimes I don’t have to necessarily justify it. Sometimes we just can’t coming to that conclusion has helped us with staff retention, it’s helped decrease staff burnout, it’s helped increase engagement with the girls a really great example of a partnership that has a lot of different kinds of areas of impact. But to your point, sometimes it’s a check. And sometimes it’s the engagement is Bank of America. So Bank of America, their employees do a coat drive for us every year. So since COVID, what it’s been as they’ve gone and they’ve purchased the coats they’ve sent them to us. And then we set up this kind of like impromptu store. And now employees come in and they volunteer with the girls and they shop right what’s really cool about that is not only that the girls are getting this kind of shopping experience inside of Girls Inc. But the employees are getting touchpoints. And the employees that aren’t able to come in in person are still getting the touch point of don’t do that they provided a coat for a girl. So now in June when I go into a Bank of America to make a deposit for Girls, Inc. and the teller sees that I’m from Girls Inc, they have this touch point in their mind of I bought a call for a girl that works. Oh, you work at girls bank, I bought a coat for her, you know. So it’s this whole idea that that event that engagement is not one dime comes from Bank of America. Yeah, it’s the employee saying I want to purchase a coat for a girl. It’s a need. It’s impactful. The girls get the experience of shopping, the employee now has this thing that they hold on to all year. And now when they do go to think about writing an unrestricted check to someplace maybe girls think is top of mind. Yeah, because as we know, unrestricted dollars go further because they can be used right away. Right. So that’s been that’s really positive for us to have people that are ready to do the the engagement work and not necessarily just write the check. And then there’s the people that we do need the sponsorship dollars. Now the difference now, I think then maybe five years ago is when someone comes to you and says I want to sponsor an event, they no longer want the step and repeat. They don’t need the table signs. Like they want to know who the girls are, that they’re they’re working with, which to your point can get a little hairy because they want their specific financial literacy thing or their specific stem activity to be the activity that you’re doing or the curriculum you’re running. And we’re like, we can’t always do that. Right. You know, so how do we work together in the existing world of what we know we can do what our capacity is, how can you come in and impact that and if it means that you write us a check, and you let us keep doing our thing, cool. If it means that this is our thing, and you’re going to not write a check, but you’re going to come in and you’re going to teach this piece of the curriculum. Great. Yeah. But I think it’s for the nonprofit side. For us. It’s been reimagining who we are, or rebranding us as who we are now, knowing that that’s different from five years ago and being comfortable with that. Yeah. And that’s a lot of growing pain, because people were comfortable with the way things were right. And then COVID happened. And that was like shake it up. And now it’s like, no, this is who we are. I don’t have to say yes to you. Yeah. And if you do want to work with us, I’m going to provide you with the menu of options of ways you can do that.

Catherine Hover 28:30
Yes, yes. I mean, I think it’s, you’re doing a great job. And I think like you’re building such a great team. And I think being like that servant leader too, is like giving your team the autonomy to go run with things that they want to that they’re passionate about, right? It’s hard work. It’s emotionally exhausting on a multitude of levels. But you’re doing an amazing job. And I love you and anything I can do. I think we don’t want to do another girls market. Yes. Like we should do that recurring, right? Like how do we get more girls in Saratoga.

Ashli Fragomeni 28:58
So we’re always looking for ways to have a footprint, if you will. So we’re right now we’re talking about pop up activities. The girls market was the first time we did something in Saratoga County like this. So we’re just always like, so talking to you like you want to host the patents up great. Let’s you know, have a unique ignite there. Yeah, so it’s just kind of just small. We don’t want to be like overpowering to people. Because at the end of the day, if I, I was just having this conversation and mechanic felt like I can’t come in and run five days of afterschool programming, because I don’t have the staff for that. And you don’t have the capacity. So let’s slow down. How can we do one event, get the community to know who we are? Right. Get comfortable with the fact that we have resources, and we were not trying to take rob Peter to pay Paul? The thing? Yeah.

Catherine Hover 29:39
And the slow and steady is yes, a totally great, like, I need to take a page out of your playbook. Yeah, because a lot of times I just like go all in and you burn out and you know, you certainly waste a lot of resources that way. So I kudos to you. I think you’re awesome.

Ashli Fragomeni 29:54
Thank you. I think you’re awesome.

Catherine Hover 29:55
What else do you want to point out or bring up should we talk about Taylor So if because

Ashli Fragomeni 30:00
I would love to talk about don’t make my day or anything. Okay, so

Catherine Hover 30:04
you had a Taylor Swift birthday party, which I was hoping and praying that Ruby would let me have a birthday a Taylor Swift birthday party for her. But she said negative she said maybe next year. So what what you first of all, tell us about your Taylor Swift birthday party.

Ashli Fragomeni 30:17
Okay, so I first of all, I’m a December baby. Okay, this is important to note. It’s not December 13. It’s December 12. Okay, day before, so we’re in the vicinity. But I’m a December baby, which I think is important because people are always like, Oh, your birthday is in December. That’s Christmas, blah, blah, blah. Not for me, like my parents never. I always made me feel so special, which I love. So I grew up with a sense of like, my birthday is something to be celebrated. Absolutely. So as I became an adult, I’m like, Well, no one’s gonna throw a party for me. Right? Or throw one myself. Yeah. So for years. I mean, I think it was like three years in a row. We went to the night owl right down here, run it out the back room. It was amazing. And then COVID hit and I was like talking about depressed. Yeah. It couldn’t have a party. It was terrible. So this year, I was like, Alright, last year, I had a girls night at my house. And it was great. This year. I was like, we’re back. Like, let’s do it. So my best friend Callie was like, What do you want to do? Like, I think I want a party bus. And I want to listen to Taylor Swift and look at Christmas lights. So they all met in Ballston spa, they came to my house picked me up, you know, the music’s blaring, the confetti, poppers are going, it was amazing. So we were on the bus for maybe like two I curated a playlist. So we were on the bus for maybe two songs. And I said, everybody, that performative piece of the evening as I was about to start, and I just basically performed Taylor Swift. Next two hours after that, Oh, my God, and my friends were cheering me

Catherine Hover 31:36
on, of course. So much fun. I love that. I love that you just took the reins, and you were like, I’m leaning into this. That’s what she did. She was like, Yeah, I’m gonna go on tour. I’m gonna literally perform all the albums. meet you there. Yeah, you went. Did you go see the movie?

Ashli Fragomeni 31:50
I went to the movie twice. And I’ve now rented it three times.

Catherine Hover 31:53
I love it. Have you seen her in concert? No, I

Ashli Fragomeni 31:56
am not that rich. Okay. Did you hear the news that people say that there’s more females watching football now because obviously because she’s at the games, but specifically more daughter’s spending time with their dads. Oh,

Catherine Hover 32:08
no, I didn’t hear that. But that’s so cute. That makes sense. I think it’s funny like people are so triggered by this whole thing. Like so there’s like the guys really going to door to your photo swept you know, but it’s like she is a mastermind. I’m not Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if it was all a just a fun little social experiment that he’s you don’t think they’re gonna get married? I don’t know. I just I feel like I wouldn’t be shocked if like they broke up and I wouldn’t be shocked if they got married. Now I think it’s like the puppy love is so adorable to watch.

Ashli Fragomeni 32:37
I think the social experiment was this last week when Jason was at the game too. And because people were getting so like you said triggered about her being at the games and her cheering and her being so excited. But then Jason’s like jumping out of the suite with no shirt on and everyone’s like, Wow, he’s so funny. And He’s so charismatic. And it’s like, she can’t even like, yeah, cheer for her man without being told like she’s too much. Right?

Catherine Hover 32:57
I think we give them too much credit. Sometimes. Like, I don’t think Jason was like, I’m gonna steal the show, just to point out that I you know, like that Taylor is not so bad or whatever. I think that they’re just like being themselves. They’re just like, they’re acting like who they are. And they’re being social. And he’s just a dude, get amped up. Just because his brother got a touchdown. He’s like, just, you know, took a shirt off. And he’s wasted, I’m sure because he’s like, No, not playing football. Right? I can’t get enough. So I mean, after listening to this episode, people are gonna be like, how, how can I work with girls saying, So what sort of like partnerships? Are you looking to forge in the future near future. So

Ashli Fragomeni 33:31
the best types of partnerships are ones that come with engagement opportunities. So we really want all women and men in this area who have positive experiences and positive opportunities to share with the girls to do that for our Eureka girls, which is our high school girls, specifically 10th 11th and 12th graders, they are in need of internships. I didn’t talk about this as much as I usually do. But the thing about our internship program that’s so cool, is we’re giving girls an opportunity to try something and not like it, which is not normally what people think about when they think about an internship, like we want girls to try it and say, you know, no, I don’t like this. So I’m not going to pursue this field in college, you know, like, so let me try something else kind of thing. We had a girl that wanted to be a vet. So she said to Kelly, are you recommended? Or can you get me an internship at a veterinarian’s office? She said, Yes. So she got her the internship at just cats on Route nine. So the first day of the internship, Kelly calls the girl and she says, how was it? And she goes, I forgot to tell you that I’m terrified of cats. And so Kelly goes, Oh, my gosh, what are we going to do? And the girl says, Well, I’m gonna stick it out. But I don’t think I want to be a vet. So she stuck it out. But can you imagine if she hadn’t tried then she went and paid for vet school and all the things and then she’s finally like, you know, getting her clinical hours and she’s like, Oh, my God, I hate cats. Oh, yeah. So it’s so false. So we’re always looking for internships, which is really a great way to get involved. We’re always looking for speakers to come talk to the community or talk to the girls come meet them, spend time with them, hosting event, whatever that looks like. Yeah, it’s just the girls or whether it’s us coming in and talking to your employees about what girls think is what we do. I’m all I’m personally always looking for ways to will spread the mission. Yeah, and awareness around it. Because in girls, we’re trusting

Catherine Hover 35:03
girls. So you trust and you’re so passionate about that it’s undeniable. We need to

Ashli Fragomeni 35:08
make sure that we have positive male role models in front of them as well and just the same as female. So I think it’s important because at the end of the day, they’re going to be working side by side. Yeah, you know, so it’s important to know what that looks like. And sounds like it feels like awesome.

Catherine Hover 35:18
Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming. And if you want to get in touch with Ashley, she is an open book and super accessible just like we were talking about and you’re on Instagram and serum girls and girls saying GCR GCR dash frog org. Yeah. Okay. Ash, frag s frog on Instagram. Oh, I love it.

Ashli Fragomeni 35:37
I think girls VR on Instagram. And then our website is Girls Inc. Capital. region.org.

Catherine Hover 35:42
Okay, yeah, you heard it here. Thank you. My facepalm moment of the week also revolves around the Super Bowl. So backstory is that I had a party to go to Saturday night it was a Mardi Gras themed party at the Adel fi and I may have had one too many hurricanes. And I was like shoving king cake into people’s mouths at a Delphi at the bar after the event because they had King Cake. And so I took it upon myself like I was obligated to demonstrate to people what a king cake is and how you eat it. And I kept on telling them there’s a plastic baby inside the king cake. I woke up very hungover, I pretty much stayed on the couch horizontal all day. I think I watched 12 hours of Super Bowl pregame show the game I mean, all of it. I was committed fully to the Super Bowl. And Ryan and Sonia actually had my kids at the bowling alley for some of the Super Bowl game. Anyway, they got home and I let them stay up and watch this game, which is such a stupid move. Like why why? So this morning, they all slept in. And I don’t usually have to wake my kids up to go to school on like, get ready and have breakfast and everything. They usually they’re waking me up. I’m not a morning person. But this morning, I had to do that. And it was miserable. So yeah, it was tough. But you know, maybe they will always remember the over time. Anyway, my whole facepalm moment was just the fact that I was just so sad. I was hung over I was still hung over like a 10pm I paid the price the next morning it was I just couldn’t wait to get to Padlet because I was already exhausted from the first shift of work that I had this morning as a mother. All right, moms and dads, I got a parenting hack for you. And it’s called the Hoffman carwash. If you are a member of the unlimited Car Wash club, you’re in for a real treat because you can go for free essentially, if you’re paying the monthly fee. I don’t know if we’re doing any girl math or mom math here, but you pay the fee and you can go get a car wash as many times as you want. And it’s one of those things that’s like a multifaceted experience. If I’m with the kids, they love to ask the car guy like if he can draw a little design on the window. They always play ball. They always do something fun. And then we go on through the carwash and it’s almost like this thing comes over my kids like they’re not psychopaths. When we leave the carwash. It’s like some sense of like therapy for them also a form of therapy when I’m by myself and I need to go to the carwash because it’s the only place that can scream out loud with no judgment. So if you are not already a member of the unlimited carwash club at Hoffman, you are missing out on a treat. Thank you for listening to this podcast and if you want to connect with me slide into my DMs on Instagram. My handle is Catherine hoever

Transcribed by https://otter.ai