To donate to Dress for Success and support women around the world, head here.

We never knew that a surge of inspiration could come from a Zoom call between the hours of 9 and 5, until we hit “Join Meeting” with Natalie Borneo, Senior Director of Program Operations for Dress for Success.

The global non-profit’s mission is to empower women through providing resources needed to achieve economic independence.

“My encouragement to women is take up that mantle, run with it and lead from wherever you are.”

We recently sat down with the director to talk leadership, the importance of serving your community and why clothing plays a big role in both.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I’m the Senior Director of Program Operations at Dress for Success. I volunteered for 12 years before officially joining the team in 2018. I live with my incredible husband and two amazing kids in West Hempstead, NY. I consider myself a very supportive and collaborative person with a knack for getting things done. Outside of my day job, I serve local community and national organizations focused on girls, women, social justice and equality.

How did you become involved with Dress for Success?

I actually met the CEO Joi Gordon when at the Black Achievers In Industry Award Leadership Conference. After hearing her speak, I became a volunteer. It was one of the most rewarding experiences, to sit with women and help them navigate the world of work, create a healthy work-life balance and learn financial strategies for success.

Tell us about Dress for Success.

We  are a community that provides positive emotional support and professional and personal development opportunities to women across the globe. As long as a woman has access to the internet and a smartphone or computer, she can get access to 1:1 coaching and virtual workshops covering everything from career kickstart and professional relaunch, to skills and personal growth.

Empowered women are not just interested in their own success, but in strengthening their families and shaping their communities.


What does a day in your life look like?

My day is definitely filled with ‘connecting the dots’ between programming needs and resources. I do strategic outreach, host  introductory meetings and facilitate various virtual workshops.

Why is this work important?

We know that women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. They represent the majority of frontline workers in areas of retail, hospitality, business, hospitality, education and travel. Many have experienced paycheck shrinkage, extensive furloughs or down-sized positions.  

Studies show that as of September 2020, roughly 800,000 women left the workforce (for various reasons) but mostly because of the disruption of the pandemic. Women already faced barriers and were waging an admirable battle to close the gender wage gap, and the pandemic has set the clock back, erasing decades of progress. Women need us now more than ever before.

Why is it important to you personally?

As a woman, I am passionate about being a part of this movement. With everything that is going on in the world today, I have never been more motivated to be there for women and their families.

In your own opinion, what role does clothing play in empowering women, specifically in helping them achieve financial independence?

Women come alive when they are in the right attire. Regardless of the type of clothing, women have always used style to channel their confidence and passion.

We understand that the right outfit gives people the tenacity needed to succeed. We’ve seen it happen firsthand and shed many tears with clients who have seen their own transformation by simply looking in the mirror.  

Women come alive when they are in clothes that they love.


How do you live out your passion in your professional and personal lives?

When you see how you can contribute to a woman’s growth, it’s life-changing. You realize that there are so many other women who just need a hand-up, and that’s what I try to do — be positive, empathetic, respectful of everyone’s journey, make room for others and always extend grace.

To donate to Dress for Success and support women around the world, head here.