Arizona State University - Bachelor of Arts in Journalism
Carrie Severson believes — strongly — in inspiring girls to live their lives as their authentic, awesome, super, selves while developing stronger sisterhoods among their peers. So, she started Severson Sisters, a nonprofit in Phoenix, that was founded out of the belief that girls can support one another without bullying each other. She loves her job so much, in fact, that she says it has brought her goose bumps, laughter and energy.
For the majority of her childhood Carrie and was teased and bullied because she was overweight. She entered her 20s with a lot of unresolved resentment and body image issues because of all the pain she faced early on in life. She worked through it, released all of it but still felt as though something was missing. Finally, in the middle of 2009, she realized that she was afraid to live the life she really wanted to.
So, after a lot of soul searching and self-development, she began the long road toward developing Severson Sisters. In the development phrase she realized how big of a mission she was taking on, and her personal strength developed in a way she had never experienced before. Her job, as the founder and chair of the organization, is to inspire girls to live without limits, fear or pain. Her personal mission is to instill in girls the understanding that every girl is a super girl and every girl is a super sister. Every girl deserves to feel beautiful, loved, appreciated and understood throughout life.
The goal of Severson Sisters is to teach girls at an early age the importance of building self-esteem as a fundamental tool that will help young girls develop, enhance and deepen their relationships with other females, inspiring them to keep powerful relationships as a way to defeat bullying in schools and establish sisterhoods throughout life.
Be one of the movers in life who change the world.
How did you discover your current job?
I created it! I wanted to create an organization that provided me with the opportunity to encourage girls to stay true to their unique identity as they move through life.
I saw a need for a local youth development program that focuses on a girl’s immediate life and her day-to-day exchange with her female peers.
What is your typical day like?
As the founder, I am the champion of Severson Sisters and its mission. That’s my umbrella. Everything from moving the vision of the organization forward, leading the board and committee members in the right direction, and talking to the parents of participants falls under my umbrella.
What types of things do you do in your job?
I’m a huge believer in the power of positive thinking. My day starts with meditation and intention. I believe Severson Sisters will succeed because of the leaders involved in it. I provide those leaders with the tools they need to serve their board or committee position in their highest good. A lot of my day is spent planning, strategizing, developing and writing policies and procedures. The other part of my day is talking to parents, our partners and volunteers. Everyone involved with Severson Sisters is here because of the mission. I talk about the mission a lot throughout my day.
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Watching the girls connect to the program sends chills down my spine every time I see it happen.
The most challenging?
Neither a parent nor myself can force a girl to come to our self-esteem super girl program. What is challenging is knowing that she would benefit from it, but she resists it because it’s unknown to her.
What is the biggest personal sacrifice you have to make because of your job?
As a start-up nonprofit, I’ve had to fund a lot of the upfront costs personally. I believe in this organization and have received validation for the program. Having so much invested in the program does drain my vacation funds though. It’s been awhile since I had the luxury of a week away. Soon I’ll have that back in my life. I believe in Severson Sisters that much.
What is one lesson you've learned in your job that sticks with you?
If I’m true to my soul purpose, everything else will fall into place.
What do you feel is the biggest challenge for women today, particularly females in your industry?
I believe in abundance. I’m neither a glass is half empty nor half full kind of girl. I’m someone who will go find a new glass when it’s time. That being said, I’m going to change the word challenge to opportunity.
I don’t know about other women, but let me tell you what my biggest opportunity is today as a female in the nonprofit industry.
I see talkers and I see movers.
The talkers are still on the high dive, afraid to take the leap. They talk about leaping. They want to leap. They want to help, donate and get involved. But when asked, given the opportunity, shown the way to step up their own game, they decline the invite. They’re too busy to do something bigger with their life.
The movers move forward and lead.
There is a great amount of work to get done. We’re at the beginning of our journey, and we can go in whatever direction we feel will serve the girls and our organization in the best way.
The biggest opportunity for me and for Severson Sisters is attracting more movers. Talk alone changes nothing.
Who are your role models?
My parents have been married for 30-something years. My business coach launched a successful nonprofit. My spiritual gurus guide me to be a more trusting, grounded and soulful woman. I’m surrounded by really amazing people.
What are some of the rules you live by?
My rules all come down to words: joy, light, love, grace and gratitude. If I live each day as a joyful, light, loving, graceful, gracious woman, I think I’ve led a pretty good day.
What advice do you have for girls who want to be in your industry?
Everyone you meet will tell you not to launch a nonprofit. If you’re guided every day you wake up to do something bigger with your life, do it. Be one of the movers in life who change the world. If what you want to do is created with clarity, sound research and from a place of truth, it’ll work. Give me a call. We’ll talk.
Where do you see yourself five years from now?
In five years Severson Sisters will have offices in Arizona, California, Wisconsin and New York. I’ll step into the role as CEO and bring on executive directors to manage each market.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Be a mover.