Readying women for success through development, networking, and workwear

Read Time: 4 Min

Supporting programs that advance women and equality is part of what Huntington does to help ensure inclusivity for all. An example of our commitment to this work is the bank's support of Dress for Success, a global non-profit organization that helps women from all walks of life achieve economic independence. With the mission to help women gain financial freedom and empowerment in the workforce, this organization provides a support network, professional attire, and development tools to help women thrive in work and life.

The work of Melony Butler, CEO of Dress for Success Cleveland, is evidenced as a testament to their endeavors. Her journey to the organization is an inspiring story of professional awakening and following one's passion.

Melony Butler, CEO of Dress for Success Cleveland

"I came from a family where you stayed strong, mustered through whatever you encountered, and didn't let anything break you. When you have that background, even though it is a good background, you don't exactly indulge in your self-care or feelings. You just learn how to keep going. But I was broken inside because I kept going for such a long time."

When a life-altering experience prompted her career transformation, she began to deal with her brokenness and self-confidence. She was referred to Dress for Success Cleveland in 1999 and became a client. Butler says she found a safe place to explore and rebuild herself. She fell in love with the organization's mission and became a volunteer. About a year later, she resigned from her corporate job and joined the Dress for Success Cleveland staff.

"For the first time, I took a job that wasn't getting me to the next ladder up as far as position, title, or money. When I joined Dress for Success Cleveland, I found purpose more valuable than the purse. I learned how to bring my whole self to the table, and I was challenged to think and allowed to be who I was and explore that space."

Ultimately, Butler became the affiliate's executive director in 2011 and was named CEO in 2021. The leader is proud that Dress for Success Cleveland is celebrating 25 years and has empowered over 24,000 women in Greater Cleveland.

How Huntington shows up

Dress for Success is near and dear to the hearts of many Huntington colleagues.

Carrie Carpenter, Huntington's regional corporate affairs manager and a Dress for Success Cleveland volunteer, says she loves the organization's Your Hour Her Power campaign because it inspires women to donate an hour of their pay to help Dress for Success provide services for other women. "I've long been committed to empowering women in the workplace and gender equality," says Carpenter. "We all could be doing more to help address pay equity issues, and projects like Your Hour Her Power allow us to achieve this goal."

(L-R) Christina McLemore, Carrie Carpenter, Carolyn Gorman

(L-R) Christina McLemore, Carrie Carpenter, Carolyn Gorman

For Carolyn Gorman, mortgage lending director at Huntington, supporting Dress for Success is about more than providing clothing for women who need appropriate work attire – one of the biggest misperceptions about their purpose. It's about providing a pathway toward economic self-sufficiency. "I love being part of something that enables women to achieve financial security and stability and seeing the impact they can have as they further invest in their families and communities," says Gorman. "The mission of Dress for Success perfectly aligns with Huntington's purpose of improving people's lives as well as my personal passion." She adds that it's a privilege to represent Huntington in her work as a board member with Dress for Success Cincinnati.

Christina McLemore, specialty banking sales support director at Huntington, has been involved with Dress for Success Columbus for nearly 10 years. She started as a volunteer and became board president of the affiliate in 2021. "As the late Shirley Chisholm once said, 'Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.' I truly get as much from this organization as I give, and I am grateful to have the opportunity to support women starting fresh and to help guide them along their new career journey." For the past three years, McLemore has supported the affiliate's Women2Women mentoring program, which pairs new career women with experienced professionals who provide one-on-one guidance to help women achieve their career goals.

Helping women grow further

Since starting operations in 1997, Dress for Success Worldwide has expanded to 143 cities in 23 countries and has helped more than 1.3 million women work towards self-sufficiency.

Learn more about Huntington's commitment to community.