Almost nine years after founding the first Dress for Success affiliate in the Quad-Cities, Regina Haddock is stepping down as executive director, with plans to have a successor in place by Aug. 1.
“It has been an intense and thrilling ride,” the 60-year-old wrote in her resignation letter this week. “Together we have created transformative experiences for women and families in the Quad-Cities and beyond. I have treasured the opportunity to lead and grow alongside the organization, our clients, staff, and volunteers but when the time is right, you know it. It will be difficult to turn the page on such a defining chapter of my own life and unconventional career journey.”
Based at 311 E. 2nd St., Davenport, the nonprofit organization — part of a worldwide program — serves under-employed and unemployed area women by providing a network of support, professional attire (which is donated and purchased), and development tools to help them thrive in work and life, at no charge to clients, who must be referred by partner agencies.
It moved to its present spot in 2013, which includes a second floor for meetings, offices and the Career Services Center. Dress for Success Quad-Cities has served 1,500 women and raised $1.1 million since it started in July 2010, Haddock said.
“A lot of the priorities in the last nine years have focused on how do we get the organization stable,” she said Thursday, noting the time is right to leave partly because she's felt her age and started losing friends. “I have that knowledge that life is short,” Haddock said. “I am leaving my options open.”
“I'm very passionate, I built up all this expertise with the organization,” she said. “It's kind of time to take the training wheels off, thanks to capacity-building grants, fundraising professionals, what helps the board be successful. We've got a ways to go for sure; the board can really take their rightful place as co-leaders for the vision and future of the organization. It's up to them. It's time to do it.”
The board and staff of five part-time employees “are committed to the work ahead — they are a hardworking, cohesive team dedicated to empowering all women to achieve economic independence,” Haddock wrote.
Cheryl Kung, board president, said of the founder in the letter: “Her tireless energy, enthusiasm in establishing and building Dress for Success Quad Cities to what it is today, is in short, simply amazing.”
“We are so grateful for Regina’s leadership, laying the foundation for Dress for Success Quad-Cities and impacting so many more than just the women we’ve suited so far,” Kung wrote. “She has empowered the Quad-Cities to support their community, as you all have helped over 1,500 women reach their next step to success.”
Haddock hopes to stay involved helping to raise money for the organization. Her move comes a week before their largest fundraiser of the year, the fifth-annual "Recycle the Runway," Thursday, April 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the RiverCenter Great River Hall, 136 E. 3rd St., Davenport.
Last year's event raised $55,000 with attendance of 525, and Haddock hopes to raise $65,000 this year. Designers use recycled clothing to create for the fashion show and compete for prizes.
Haddock pointed to their clients as keys to the group success.
“They came through something, lifted themselves up, got back in the workforce, dreaming bigger for themselves,” she said. “You can't understate the importance of confidence for women. There are so many mixed messages on what we should be in the world — boys are pushed to get ahead, girls pushed to get along. It's up to you to make the future secure, safe and financially rewarding.
“The women who come back, join our professional women's group, that feels really good,” Haddock said. “What I'm really hopeful for, proud of, to the best of our ability, is egalitarian. It doesn't matter, in these divided times, this is not a mission to play off one side or another. We want all people to be able to come together, give women a hand up, free clothes, and capacity building to keep a job.”
Dress for Success needs to serve Latinas better, she added, partly with bilingual materials. The Q-C website can be instantly translated to Spanish.
For “Recycle the Runway” tickets ($65) and more info, visit quadcities.dressforsuccess.org/get-involved/events/recycle-the-runway-2019.