A Look into Spinsters’ Professional Development: Book Club and Skill-Building Workshops


Alexandra Casas


As Spinsters of San Francisco (SOSF) has been around for almost 90 years, the role of women in the workplace has transformed. In addition to being a women’s philanthropic and social organization, Spinsters have embraced a focus on professional development to support members’ ever-growing careers.  SOSF has traditionally been an organization where members can volunteer and raise funds for important grantee-partners in our San Francisco community as well as create lifelong friendships. With this new professional development pillar added to the organization, members have a more formal place to share ideas with other driven, successful women and build skills to help them meet their goals.

To support this initiative, SOSF created a Professional Development Committee, co-chaired by Claire Callahan and Marisa Corona, to organize a quarterly book club and skill building workshop series for members to participate in throughout the year. The Committee focuses on topics that are relevant across professional fields such as public speaking, work-life balance, mindfulness and creative problem solving.


Quarterly Book Club


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“To live the lives we truly want and deserve, and not just the lives we settle for, we need a Third Metric, a third measure of success that goes beyond the two metrics of money and power, and consists of four pillars: well-being, wisdom, wonder, and giving.”

— Arianna Huffington, Thrive


On February 1, 2018 the Professional Development Committee hosted a book club meeting featuring Arianna Huffington’s Thrive. Arianna’s book is a personal account of the publishing giant’s journey towards finding a new metric for success that goes beyond money and power and prioritizes health, learning, amazement and community. Spinsters had an engaging discussion about how to embrace career highs and lows, align careers with values, and prioritize self-care.


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“The small group setting allowed us to get personal. I loved how every story about the highs and lows of life-career integration resonated with everyone in the room.”

— SOSF Member, Alexandra Casas


In April, the book club reconvened to discuss Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom and David Kelley. Claire Callahan, a second year member, was struck by how often people misunderstand creativity and its importance in problem solving.  “I truly enjoyed talking with fellow Spinsters in the early to mid stages of their careers to explore what creativity actually is, and how we can all embrace it in our work, whether you work in a stereotypical creative field or a more analytical one. Through our discussion, it became clear that whether you worked in social media or finance, creativity plays an important role in the work you do, and there are things you can do to build creativity like any other skill.”

Later this year, the Professional Development Book Club will discuss Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage their Careers by Lois P. Frankel. The Committee looks forward to an engaging discussion about the challenges women face in the workplace and how to overcome them.


Workshop Series


In Spinsters, we believe in learning from one another.  Fourth year Spinster, Kelsey Luoma, led the Public Speaking Workshop on February 6, 2018. Public speaking can often be a daunting experience, but Kelsey broke down how to make it a breeze! Pulling from her experiences training executives on effective communication at Decker Communications, Kelsey shared important concepts and tools to strengthen members’ public speaking skills. She emphasized the importance of using pauses and gestures to punctuate speech, and encouraged workshop attendees to practice public speaking often to gain confidence and self awareness.

Spinsters then paired up for several activities in engaging audiences and being effective listeners. Members also shared their challenges and gave each other advice from their different professional backgrounds, ranging from speaking on panels to removing qualifiers from our speech, to how best to prepare for a successful presentation. Listening to other members’ reflections was inspiring to watch. Each member brought valuable experience and advice to each other across a spectra of careers and experience.

Later this Spring, the Committee will host two additional skill building workshops. The next workshop will be on May 12th on Mindfulness to help members mindfully connect to their work, their teams, and achieve their long-term goals. The final workshop of the year will be a two night SQL training on queries hosted at Google.

Interested in learning more about our professional development work? Learn more about becoming a member below.