Polished Pebbles Programs Lead to Full-Time Employment for BIPOC Young Women

Three Polished Pebbles “Every Girl Is A CEO” Program Alumni Thrive in Full-Time Positions at SOPHY Hyde Park

For nearly 15 years, Chicago-based nonprofit organization Polished Pebbles, has invested in young women of color to provide them with opportunities, skills and pathways for long term career opportunities. The organization is proud to share an impact story in the Hyde Park neighborhood, as three of the program’s alumni are working full-time at SOPHY Hyde Park. First introduced through the program’s internship and mentoring “Every Girl is A CEO” program, the young women are a testament to the power of investing in women for a diverse future. 

Kelly Fair, Founder of Polished Pebbles, hosted a Black History Month Fireside Chat at SOPHY Hotel this past week. Fair highlighted the existing hope gap crisis and discussed with Sara Masterson, President of Olympia Hotel Management, the importance of investing in girls for a diverse future workplace.

“Seeing the success of young, driven women like Diamond, Teja, and Tiara reaffirms why we do what we do,” says Kelly Fair, Founder of Polished Pebbles. “These young women have been in our program for years, building confidence and gaining leadership and adaptability skills that they can take into any workplace. Through these fireside chats, the goal is to encourage brands and companies to invest in girls early — realizing and actioning the school-to-career pipeline.” 

Polished Pebbles offers mentorship programs that help young women develop life skills, career readiness, and leadership abilities. The organization has reached more than 10,000 Black and brown girls from age 7 – 17 through diverse programming offerings. This year, the organization looks to create even more opportunities in Chicago and across the country through expanded efforts. 


SOPHY Hotel is a longstanding partner of Polished Pebbles, working with the organization in many different capacities. The hotel has partnered with the organization on Polished Pebbles’ custom internships and job shadow programming which provide aspiring, young executives with the opportunity to learn from members of the SOPHY Hyde Park team and gain first-hand experience and a behind-the-scenes look into hospitality careers. Additionally, leadership representatives have participated in the Polished Pebbles ‘Every Girl Is a CEO Global Career Conference,’ sharing career advice as part of the hospitality career panel. Olympia, SOPHY, and Hyatt are also program sponsors and have contributed to the 2022 Annual Fundraiser; currently they offer 15 percent off their best available room rate with a donation of $25 per night to Polished Pebbles.

“We are pleased to be working alongside Polished Pebbles in their incredible work to find meaningful job shadowing opportunities and internships for young women of color through the Every Girl Is a CEO program,” says Sara Masterson, President of Olympia Hotel Management. “We are grateful to have Diamond, Teja, and Tiara as part of our team and wish them continued success in their new careers.” 

As one of the lifeline industries in the city of Chicago, learning skills in hospitality is a worthwhile investment that can be applied to any professional area. Thanks to the mentorship and guidance they received during their internships, Polished Pebbles alumni Diamonique (Diamond) Halsell, Teja Syers, and Tiara Syers have secured full-time employment in the hotel’s Marketing, Sales and Guest Services departments. 


For young girls in Chicago, society often starts to pass down gender roles as early as elementary school and young Black women are often overlooked when it comes to opportunities for career development, as they can be pulled into various family roles at a young age. When Black women are able to find gainful employment in Illinois, they make just 56 cents for every dollar earned by their White male counterparts. When corporations partner with organizations like Polished Pebbles to provide early career and professional development opportunities, it can  make a significant impact on a young girl’s future, and most importantly, the way she sees herself. 

For more information, please visit www.PolishedPebbles.com

About Polished Pebbles

Polished Pebbles is a Chicago-based mentoring initiative that increases the communication skills and employability of young women for the future workplace. Polished Pebbles helps girls ages 7-17 become effective communicators at home, school, and their future careers. The organization currently serves 1,500+ girls and young women per school year in Chicagoland, Indiana, Texas, and North Carolina. Since its inception in 2009, Polished Pebbles has worked with over 10,000 African-American and Latinx girls and provided over 600 mentors to girls in more than 125 school and community sites.

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