Erica Ehm offers women the tools to be ‘fearles
By Louise Rachlis
Former MuchMusic VJ and entrepreneur Erica Ehm will be the keynote speaker at Sisters on Board, a new event for women, hosted by the Ottawa Jewish Community Foundation.
Taking place on Thursday, October 24, 7:15 pm, at Orange Art Gallery, 290 City Centre Avenue, the event was created to promote the benefits of women taking leadership roles by participating on the boards of community organizations. The event is already sold-out.
The title of Ehm’s talk is “Courageous Leadership: Put Your Bold Face On.” In the process of writing a new book, Bold Face, Ehm’s goal for events like Sisters on Board is “to give women the tools that I’ve picked up through the years that have helped me achieve my goals.”
“It’s different for all of us,” Ehm told the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. “It doesn’t necessarily mean going high on the corporate ladder… It could mean sitting on boards and having the self-confidence to do that. The thread that ties it all together is having the courage to pursue what you want to do in life.”
“We were brainstorming strong women with recognizable names,” said event chair Adina Libin, and her committee members were attracted by Ehm’s YMC – www.yummymummyclub.ca – website and her name recognition.
“When I spoke to her and she told me what she wanted to talk to us about – boldness – I thought it was a perfect fit,” said Libin. “She was a MuchMusic VJ through my formative years.” Erica is also “a good representative of our demographic,” Libin added, “a busy, working mom who finds time to volunteer.”
The purpose of the event is to “show women the benefits that being on a board can provide for them,” said Libin. “We talk about it as a selfless thing to do, but it’s actually a selfish thing to do. There are so many benefits… I don’t think a lot of people think of that. “I’m hoping that people come and see the time is worth it sitting on boards... I’m really gearing it towards professional women with busy lives.”
Being “bold” isn’t easy, said Ehm. “I feel like every day I have to summon up the courage to get through all the obstacles we all have to face on a daily basis. I thought a good metaphor would be ‘putting on a bold face,’ like wearing armour. Like a football player who puts on all his equipment so he can crash through his opponent.
“In this world we women are all on the same footing as men. We need to almost physically emulate that surge of strength in order to create that internal feeling of confidence and perseverance… I think that’s really helpful.” Growing up, Ehm said she had that perseverance, and “when I wanted to achieve something, I went for it.”
“From a very young age, I never associated myself with a specific gender, in terms of my ability,” she said. “I was DJing in clubs at the age of 15 until 3 in the morning. My parents raised a very fierce young woman and I think it probably scared them sometimes, but they let me be who I was. They let me be bold. I’m really grateful I was raised like that.” Ehm feels the information she conveys is important for women.
“When I’m invited to speak to groups, I tell my story and I give my examples… The stories that I tell and the tools I give women are really quite simple – but you need a specific mindset, and that’s what I try to provide. My mother did that for me… She helped me to be fearless and now I’m passing her legacy on to other women.”
The mother of two teenagers, Ehm has partnered with some of the world’s top brands over the past 13 years through her pioneering work in content marketing and social media. In addition to YMC, she founded a digital agency, Ehm & Co., which is also focused on the “mom market.”
“I felt that there was a need for someone to speak for moms who are treated as second class citizens and who are patronized by the advertising business… The business grew and now we’re the most well-known digital agency in Canada that helps brands connect to parents.”
Federation’s Volunteer Centre, which helps connect people in the community with Jewish community agencies and organizations in need of board members and volunteers will be present at the Sisters on Board event.
“At Federation, our most valuable resource are our volunteers. Individuals with a passion for translating Jewish values into social action donate numerous hours and resources to realize our vision of creating a thriving, inclusive and engaged Ottawa Jewish community. To accomplish our mission, we need you,” said Anne Read, Federation’s community engagement specialist.
For more information on volunteering and becoming involved with boards in the Jewish community, contact Anne Read at firstname.lastname@example.org or 613-798-4696, ext. 355.