Dallas chamber forms female group

DALLAS — Since JD Shinn took over as executive director of the Dallas Area Chamber of Commerce, membership is up from 121 to 154.

“That is 100 percent Ashley (Kahl),” Shinn said. “We’ve been making more efforts on a broad scale. Rather than going out and asking for membership, we’ve been trying to engage the community.”

Kahl said one of her biggest focuses has been on quality over quantity.

“Our members are happier than they were before,” she said. “We want to make sure who we have currently are satisfied and their needs are being met.”

One way Kahl is filling a need for chamber members is through a new monthly meeting aimed at woman, Women Engaging.

The group meets on the third Wednesday of the month from 8 to 9 a.m. at Pressed Coffee & Wine Bar.

“It’s for women at any level of business,” Kahl said. “If you have a job, come.”

The group, which will meet for its third time on June 21, is a safe place for women who work to “have coffee, eat treats, and talk about our struggles and our triumphs over the last month,” Kahl said.

Networking is not prohibited, but not the focus, either, Kahl said.

“I want everyone to find their new best friend in this group,” she said. “Networking will happen organically, but first, let’s find out how long have you been married; where do your kids go to school, and then just connecting people, having people available who’s gone before you, who’s been there.”

Two women have agreed to be mentors for others, Nancy Adams and Sue Dunham.

“They’re available for all the women to call and say, ‘I’ve had a bad day, do you have a minute?’ or ‘Can you go over this with me?’” Kahl said.

When she was beginning her business, Crunchy Mamas, she said she longed for the guidance of a mentor.

“There were so many elements to the business, I didn’t know where to start,” Kahl recalled.

Dunham and Adams can help point others in the right direction or be a listening ear, Kahl said.

“We need people; we need a community; and that’s what it’s about,” she said. “Yes, it’s business, and supporting each other in that aspect, but just in life in general. Just being able to run into each other and say, ‘How are you?’”

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