Esq. Chief Executive Officer Dress for Success Worldwide,
New York City
Joi Gordon, chief executive of Dress for Success Worldwide, is carrying out her personal mission to help women improve their lives.
“Women’s issues were interesting to me and it was an area that I felt like I could get involved with and make a difference,” Gordon says.
Those feelings surfaced when she was an assistant district attorney in the Bronx and propelled her into the nonprofit sector.
Dress for Success is a global not-for-profit organization that provides professional attire, support and career services to women re-entering the work force.
Gordon oversees an affiliate network that spans 96 cities in nine countries. Using her business acumen, she leads the organization as if it were a commercial enterprise, surrounding herself with a team that has strengthened the Dress for Success brand, implementing innovative programs and developing collaborative relationships with corporations that share the DFS mission.
Since 1997, more than 450,000 women have benefited from the work of Gordon, her team and volunteers.
Gordon attributes her professional success to the example set by her mother, Joyce Palmer, who sometimes worked three jobs to make sure her daughter received the best private education.
One job took the family to Tulsa, Okla., where Gordon earned a bachelor’s degree in radio and television broadcasting from the University of Oklahoma and a law degree from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Law.
Back then, she dreamt of hosting her own Court TV program, but today she can’t think of greater justice than seeing a disadvantaged woman take back control of her life when she lands a job and becomes economically independent.
In the current economic recession, some foresee doom for nonprofits, to which Gordon-the-eternal-optimist objects.
“This is a time when people who do well and have integrity shine and that is what I’m about,” she says.
She expects 2009 to be one of the best years for Dress for Success.
“Women’s lives depend on it and I’m focused,” she says.