Dear Friends,

Happy NYE As we reflect on the first year of Changemaker Chats, we want to thank you for helping build this network of women who support each other in advancing our careers and making a positive impact in the world around us.

We loved seeing you at the Chats. We loved hearing how they taught you new things and encouraged you to go after what you want. We loved learning about the new connections that helped land a job or negotiate a raise or start a project. And we loved your input for how to continue to improve the Chats.

Like you, we care deeply about excelling in our careers and in our personal lives. Yet, we are also familiar with the barriers to our pursuits, including a lack of role models, practical guidance, and supportive environments to advance our goals.

This is why we started these Chats.

In the spirit of sharing lessons learned, here are a few of our reflections from this inaugural year. We hope they inspire you for a successful 2016.

If a solution doesn’t exist, create it
A little over a year ago, we didn’t feel like we were getting the answers we needed. They felt generic at best and disingenuous at worst. We wanted to hear real stories from the women we respect, in an open and honest forum. When we didn’t find this, we went ahead and created it ourselves. The Chats were a response to our need, but sure enough other women shared this need and the rest is history.

Paying it forward pays off
And while we started the Chats looking for answers to our own questions, we discovered that sharing this experience was more powerful and rewarding than we ever anticipated. Somewhere along the way, a secondary mission was revealed—connecting and supporting women who strive to be forces for good and conduits for change. We want to thank each and every one of you for helping us pay it forward.

Inspiration is a two-way street
It has been at times earthshattering to hear Changemakers share their stories and guidance. We were honored to be let in on their secrets. Unsurprisingly, Changmakers have also admired the ambition, attitude, and work of women in the room. They are inspired by all of you to fight even harder to break down barriers for women.

The greatest risk is not taking a chance
It sounds cliché but the best way to start something new is with an unyielding faith in your ability to make it work. Knowing that we were partners-in-crime who believed in one another and could shoulder the burden when things got unwieldy helped us jump in headfirst and not look back.

We’ve never been as motivated as we are today to build Changemaker Chats with women in NYC and now in cities across the US and the world. We hope you’ve enjoyed the ride so far and we look forward to seeing you again soon.

Here’s to a great New Year.

–Your friends Briana and Jessica at Changemaker Chats