Cheryl Rice of Erdenheim (second from left), who ran her own consulting company for 11 years, insists that “A lot of times women are more likely to be championing other people than themselves.” Cheryl is seen here during one of her female empowerment sessions with, from left, Linda Kneeland of Worcester, Susan Meier of center city and Sophia Almy of Lafayette Hill.

by Lou Mancinelli

After running her own consulting company for 11 years that brought her into Fortune 500 companies like AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, Campbell’s Soup and Citizen’s Bank to help empower executives, Erdenheim resident Cheryl Rice is opening her home for 8-week-long “Women’s Coaching Circles” geared towards empowering women.

The class is designed to bring women together who are interested in making a positive change in their lives. Rice serves as a conduit of information and change. She helps the women develop their own voices. According to Rice, her goal is to help each woman become a champion of herself.

“A lot of times women are more likely to be championing other people than themselves,” said Rice, 48.

After spending 20 years in-house and as a consultant helping Fortune 500 companies’ executives develop their voices and their staffs develop stronger teams, Rice wanted to shift her work towards helping women develop their selves and improve their daily lives.

The women who enroll in her coaching circles may be at a crossroads. They may want to make a significant change in their lives but may not know how to begin. Maybe they are satisfied financially but want more time to spend with their families and need support during the transition.

“The key word is permission,” said Rice. “A lot of times women feel they need to give themselves permission to do what they want.”

Through exercises like writing a letter to oneself or to oneself 20 years from now, Rice helps women first think about, then visualize where they want to be and what they want to do. Sometimes these simple exercises yield fruitful results. When someone starts identifying 50 things that make her happy, the results “can be startling.”

Early in her career Rice, who was raised in King of Prussia and graduated from Upper Merion High School in 1983, worked in counseling. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from Monmouth University in New Jersey in 1987 and a year later earned her master’s degree in counseling from the University of Pennsylvania.

She worked at Widener College and thought she wanted to be a psychologist. When she gained on-the-floor experience, she realized she liked the work but that she preferred to help people maximize their potential.

In the early 1990s she started to work in training, development and team-building. She worked for NovaCare as director of organization development for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, as a vice-president of leadership development at ACE International and elsewhere in other leadership roles.

The number one problem Rice recognized that hampered executives and teams in corporations was communication. “I was really curious about looking at how organizations promote or inhibit behavior,” she said, “and how individuals make changes and grow within the context of a group setting.”

Rice earned a second master’s degree in organizational development from Pepperdine University in California in 1999. While she studied for the degree, Rice worked full-time in Philadelphia for Cigna, a global health insurance company. She flew to Pepperdine’s campus in California for eight days of class every eight weeks for two years to complete the program.

The power of the group setting is a key element of her Women’s Coaching Circles. Its power is something she realized during her two decades of consulting experience in Fortune 500 companies. “People come in with this big inner-critic on their shoulder,” said Rice. Her job is to help expose that critic and reduce its power. The goal of the class is to overcome that doubt.

The power of the group setting is that it provides a place where women can come together and talk with other women in a place where they feel safe, accepted, strong and free to express themselves. It’s a place to bring concern that will be met with receptivity and compassion.

Rice runs a spring and fall session each year. The spring session is now underway through the end of May. The fall session begins September 24. “The magic is that the women end up supporting each other,” Rice said.

For more information, visit YourVoiceYourVision.com or call 484-557-8846.

  • Lois Seeligsohnh

    This is an old concept. Women have always gathered to comfort one another and to gain ears for their own gripes and fears. These coffee klatches never really get anywhere – just venting. But Cheryl Rice approaches the women’s group as a qualified facilitator, with years of successful experience – and a trusted ally. Her technique appears to be a focused, organized approach to women’s unique challenges in reaching their personal and professional goals.