Join one of Alabama’s most powerful women’s networks—apply for Momentum Upward by Aug. 31


Andrea McCaskey at the Momentum Conference
Andrea McCaskey serves as Momentum’s Director of Statewide Programs. (Brian DeMarco)

Early and mid-level women leaders, are you ready to take your career and life to new heights? Momentum is a Birmingham-based nonprofit that’s been offering leadership development programs since 2002, and now they’re accepting applications for the fifth-ever Momentum Upward Program through August 31. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.

Get to know Momentum

Momentum staff
Some of Momentum’s current + former staff members. (Momentum)

This women’s leadership development network just celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Momentum Leadership Conference in March 2022 . When they were first getting started, they developed an Executive Leadership Program to build women’s leadership throughout the state. Later, after enough women said “I wish I’d had this information at the start of my career,” Upward was born.

Who’s behind the Momentum Upward program + who it’s for

Upward graduates
2022 Upward grads. (Momentum)

We spoke with April Benetollo, Momentum’s CEO and two past participants to learn more about Upward: Alicja Foksinska, with Protective Life Corporation, and Monique Shorts, with the City of Birmingham.

Who Upward is for:

  • Aspiring women leaders at the beginning stages of their careers.
  • Women with a bit of experience, including some management experience.
  • Women who are just beginning their leadership journey after a long period of formal schooling, or re-entering the workforce. 

There’s no specific age requirement, and this year, Momentum’s Upward Program will be dividing into two cohorts of 30 participants each, for a total of 60 participants—one early-career, and one mid-level.

What you need to know about the Momentum Upward Program before you apply

McDonald Graham teaching a Momentum Upward class
Dr. Julie McDonald + Dr. Lisa Graham are favorite teachers on the Upward program. (Momentum)
  • Meetings: You’ll meet—in person—every month for half a day from February-October 2023.
  • Location: Meetings take place at the Birmingham Bar Association on 2nd Avenue North.
  • Cost: $2000 per participant—usually borne by a company or a combination of a company and participant.
  • Scholarships: limited partial and full scholarships available, with no guarantee of getting one. Simply indicate on your application if you need a scholarship to participate.
  • Apply: Upward is accepting applications now through August 31

What you’ll get out of the Momentum Upward program

  • Tools that will help you understand the value you bring to your organization and how better to navigate your career. 
  • A powerful and deeply engaged alumnae network, with 565 women who have completed Momentum’s flagship Executive Leadership Program, and 240 women who have completed Upward.
  • The benefit of knowing that whatever you’re going through, you’re not alone.

Alicja Foksinska’s takeaways

Alicja Foksinska
Alicja Foksinska (Tyler Furgerson)

Alicja Foksinska is the Lead IT Auditor at Protective Life Corporation, right here in Birmingham. Since completing the Upward program, she’s received numerous accolades and has achieved some major career milestones. Here are her top takeaways:

  • “Professionally, it helped me develop my career plan and taught me that ‘YOU are the one who is in the driver’s seat of your career—the one who takes control and navigates it. YOU own your career growth.’  
  • I dove deep into learning more about my strengths and weaknesses and how to fill my weaknesses with a team who will support me and uplift me to perform at my best potential.
  • I learned how self-care is a necessity—it’s not selfish; it’s replenishing. Most directly, the session with Dr. Julie McDonald and Dr. Lisa Graham helped me understand that work-life is not a balance, but rather a blend.
  • I learned to let go of things that don’t bring me joy, and to choose things which fill my time with intention.  
  • I discovered and fine-tuned my WHY.”

In terms of her own leadership style, she’s grown more confident as a leader with a clear roadmap she revisits at least once a year as her life and priorities shift and change.

“Learning from this group of women was inspiring, and I’m forever thankful for meeting them.” 

Alicja Foksinska

Monique “Mo” Shorts’ takeaways

Upward graduate Monique Shorts
Monique “Mo” Shorts (Monique Shorts)

Monique Shorts is another Upward graduate who has achieved significant professional success since completing the program, including a promotion and several nonprofit leadership roles.

“By obtaining insights from experienced leaders, Momentum staff, speakers, and my amazing co-mentoring group, I was empowered to develop, set and successfully meet several professional goals throughout and after graduation from Upward. On a more personal level, Upward encouraged me to recognize and celebrate myself, reminding me that self-care is never selfish. Upward has truly set my life on an upward trajectory, and I am still picking up momentum!”

Mo Shorts, Senior Program Manager, Department of Innovation and Economic Opportunity, Office of Business Diversity and Opportunity, City of Birmingham

In terms of her own leadership style, she now feels that she is much more versatile, with the ability to adapt to the situation or the needs of the team.

Other ways you can get involved with Momentum

Momentum mentors
Mentor-mentee pairs are a great way to be a part of Momentum. (Momentum)

Momentum provides multiple professional development opportunities, including the following:

Know you want to be a part of Momentum’s next Upward class? Apply before August 31 to reserve your spot.

Sponsored by:

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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