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DeLores Pressley

Nothing motivates DeLores Pressley faster than telling her she can’t do something. Six-year-old DeLores knew she wanted to be a ballerina and 60-year-old DeLores took ballet lessons knee brace and all.

“They said I couldn’t be a ballerina because of my weight, and they made me take tap,” said the Founder and CEO of She Elevates TM, a nonprofit organization created to empower women and girl entrepreneurs.

DeLores has been a founder-level member of Women’s Impact, Inc. since the early days of the organization. It’s a natural fit for DeLores who is committed to empowering women and girls while encouraging them to realize their career goals. Women’s Impact, Inc. is committed to helping women unleash their power and realize their potential through connection, education, and recognition, a mission that DeLores embodies in her work as an entrepreneur, teacher, and mentor. One way that she encourages others is to make available opportunities to others who want to engage in helping to lift others by volunteering at one of the She ElevatesTM programs.

“Dreams do not come with age limits,” DeLores says. So many people don’t feel their worth, she said, noting that she knew her value even as a child “when they robbed me of being a ballerina.”

In retrospect, that childhood experience was a gift. Each time she is told that she “can’t” she shows that she can. “I wanted to be a model,” she said, but again, she was discouraged due to her size. After winning an international modeling competition, she opened Dimensions Plus Modeling Agency, where she still found it difficult to break through the body image stereotypes that she doesn’t fit. 

Women tend not to talk about our accomplishments. Each person needs to believe in the power of you, she said. Like others, DeLores said she has dealt with imposter syndrome and that she followed family expectations when it came to her education. Although she went to Timken Vocational High School – because her father was all things Timken – she knew that she wanted to go to college and become a teacher.

GalaAll her life, DeLores has been heavily influenced by Lathrop Elementary School teacher Marilyn Swain, and by her mother who always told her that she is enough and that she can do whatever she wants to do. Because of Ms. Swain, DeLores became a teacher and began empowering young people.

Noticed for her empowering approach DeLores was invited by The Oprah Winfrey Show ostensibly to speak on “No Child Left Behind;” however, when she and her colleague arrived, she learned that she was going to speak about being a teacher on the “My Favorite Things” teacher episode. As a result of that appearance, her speaking career took off.  After 27 years, DeLores retired from her public-school teaching career and became a motivational speaker, a role that took her around the world and allowed her to continue empowering women and young girls.

On her travels, she kept hearing a divine voice telling her it was time to give up the limos and 5-star hotels. A woman of faith, DeLores felt the presence of God telling her to create a safe space for girls to help them live their best lives. Six years ago, she founded She ElevatesTM to serve 8-14-year-olds who are learning to follow their dreams, to recognize their value, and to be strong, independent women. Her offerings continue to grow with the help of a volunteer team who mentor, instruct, and befriend young girls through the She Elevates Academy, the She Shadows mentoring experience, and the newest middle-school-based program, She Elevates Life.

If you are interested in learning about more ways that you can help empower womenFood Bank and girls, visit www.shelevates.org and continue to explore womensimpactinc.com, where you will learn about the many ways that Women’s Impact, Inc. and its members advance women in the workplace by helping them unleash power and realize potential through connection, education, and recognition. 

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