Mary Lee: Cofounder & President of Nonprofit for Women

Name: Mary Lee Caldwell

Age: 34

City: Tuscaloosa

Main Hustle: Higher Eduction Administration – Student Life Administrator at The University of Alabama

Side Hustle: President and Co-Founder of Lean On: Alabama, a non-profit designed to empower women in the state through intergenerational relationships.

How did you get started?: I started Lean On: Alabama because I was inspired by the women of our state. I saw how passionately so many of us cared about our communities, our families and friends, and our state. I cherish the relationships that I have formed in my life, and I wanted to create opportunities for women to connect with one another in meaningful and authentic ways.

When/where do you work on your Side Hustle?: Whenever I can 🙂 Mostly nights and weekends.

What are the challenges of your Side Hustle?: Finding time; building and maintaining momentum.

What are the rewards of your Side Hustle?:

Seeing the power that comes from a connection or spark of inspiration. Knowing that the results of our work may not be felt immediately, but that they will come as we help others cultivate their own connections and inspirations.

Who is your greatest supporter?: My mother

Who/what is your greatest source of inspiration?: The women who are involved with Alabama Girls State. This group of women represents everything I want to help others create with Lean On: Alabama.

We range in age from 18-80, but we truly care about one another, and we trust one another to be there in the highs and lows of life. We laugh more than we cry and believe that the best gifts (friendships) should be passed on to others.

Have you received recognition for your work?: I was named one of Alabama Media Group’s 30 Women Who Shape the State in 2017.

What is your dream for your Side Hustle?: For Lean On: Alabama to have a strong presence throughout the state, so that all women in Alabama can connect through a network that supports and encourages them and challenges them to be their best self. To promote our values of wisdom, hope, faith, and friendship, so that women will see and experience the importance of collaboration over competition.

Do you have any advice for others working on a Side Hustle?:

Stay focused and don’t lose hope. To not be afraid to pivot, but never lose site of the big picture.

Check out Lean On: Alabama’s website, follow along on Facebook or Instagram, or reach out to Mary Lee via email to connect or collaborate!


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