Chamber Insider Blog

Spotlight on the 2023 SBA Finalists: Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls (LCWAG)

Congratulations to LCWAG Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls for being a finalist in the Nonprofit Organization of the Year category! Check out all of the finalists here. These responses are written from the perspective of Coalition Chair Ferri Riar.

Tell us the story of your business/nonprofit and how it’s evolved.

The inception of our non-profit is credited to a group of visionary women who, with keen insight, recognized the pressing needs of women and girls in our community. Their leadership stands as a pillar of strength, serving as an enduring beacon and role model for all who aspire to make a difference for women and girls in our county.

Although originally established as the Loudoun Commission on Women and Girls in 2017, our vision is that every Loudoun County woman and girl will have equitable opportunities to achieve personal and professional growth. To enhance our ability to best serve our community, we transitioned to the Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls, elected a board of directors, and set a strategic direction for the organization.With the generosity of our donors and passionate volunteers over the last seven years, we have launched several pillar programs that have positively impacted the lives of thousands of Loudoun residents, including our:

  • Research & Impact Hub
  • Entrepreneurship & Employment Resources
  • Girl emPower Initiative
  • Loudoun Women’s Hall of Fame.

With continued community support, we remain actively dedicated to collaborate on initiatives that address the needs of women and girls in Loudoun, ultimately creating a more inclusive community for all.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your team?

LCWAG would not exist today without the resolute vision and passionate perseverance of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. As a mission-driven organization, we are most proud of the impact and quality of programming provided by a passionate, all-volunteer operation

This has been the biggest year ever for LCWAG, and we’re excited to keep the momentum going! In May, we announced the inaugural class of the Loudoun Women’s Hall of Fame, honoring women who have made and continue to make a heroic impact in our community. We also kicked off the summer with the Loudoun Entrepreneurial Women’s Business Seminar, drawing broad support from the community and welcoming women from as far away as Georgia!

This fall, we were featured on Great Day Washington in advance of the fourth annual Girl emPower Summit, which celebrated Inner Radiance and Self-Empowerment. This year’s Summit was attended by approximately 100 young women from local middle schools and high schools, and showcased how learning, entrepreneurship, mindfulness, creative coping, and community building are all tools for building confidence in the future. Better yet, it marked the fourth-straight year in which more than 95% of attendees surveyed after the event said they felt more confident about their future goals. 

In what ways do you give back to the Loudoun community?

Our entire purpose is to give back to the community, both in assessing the needs of women and girls, and developing collaborative solutions. Even in a community as prosperous as Loudoun County, there are real and growing gaps, big enough for our women and girls to fall into. 

The most recent LCWAG community survey shows that 49% of survey respondents (all women) are experiencing major challenges in the areas of employment, healthcare, childcare, housing, food, and/or domestic violence. 

This research has informed the design of programs that better fit the needs of our community, including the Girl emPower Summit, which drew record sign-ups, attendance, and sponsor participation this year. Over the years, LCWAG has also assisted 300+ women in career opportunities and entrepreneurship

Our local research assessment has engaged more than 800 women, elevating their realities into actionable feedback. Through education, collaboration, and empowerment, LCWAG has changed lives, creating equitable pathways and a more inclusive community for all women and girls in Loudoun County. Our research has also helped shape public policy, and has been cited by community leaders when gauging the importance of issues like childcare and healthcare that need coordinated, county-level support. 

Lastly, women and girls have shaped the Loudoun community for hundreds of years and deserve space to be celebrated. In May 2023, we launched the first Loudoun Women’s Hall of Fame and enshrined the legacy of 10 extraordinary women in its inaugural inductee class. Programs like this not only recognize and celebrate the achievements of our women, but give girls a set of local role models and mentors to help shape their futures.

As we continue to grow our coalition of stakeholders and program areas, our team and network of support is totally aligned with maintaining this high level of quality impact in our community.

What would it mean to you and your business to win a Small Business Award?

Despite growing rapidly from our inception seven years ago, we are just scratching the surface on supporting women and girls in our community. We have much to celebrate, and much still left to do.

Winning a Small Business Award from the Loudoun Chamber recognizes our dedication, hard work, and the tangible impact we have made in our community. It not only validates the efforts of our volunteers, board members, and supporters but also amplifies our mission. This award would provide us with a broader platform to raise awareness, drive funding, and attract volunteers to take the next steps in our growth.

While the Loudoun Chamber’s coveted Small Business Awards are a celebration of the measurable impact LCWAG has had, being recognized as a finalist motivates us to continue serving and striving towards a higher level of community impact.

Who is the one person that has influenced you the most in your career?

While it’s challenging to single out just one person, the combined strength and wisdom of two incredible women in my life stand out: my mother and my daughter. My mother, with her amazing determination and compassion, has been my lifelong mentor and inspiration. She instilled in me values that have been my guiding light in my professional and personal endeavors, including strong commitment to community service.

On the other hand, my daughter, with her youthful energy and fresh perspectives, constantly reminds me of the importance of adaptability and resilience in today’s changing world. She represents the future and renews my hope and drive to create a better world for the coming generations.

Yet, as the chair of LCWAG, I cannot overlook the immense inspiration I draw from the amazing women who serve on our board of directors. Comprising a team of incredible women, their collective spirit, dedication, and mutual upliftment make our dream work possible.

How do you see your business evolving in the next 5 years?

A lot can happen in five years – consider that less than a decade ago, LCWAG didn’t exist. Since then, we’ve organized a team that can both assess and address the challenges faced by women and girls.

In the next five years we would like to focus on growth, innovation, and maximizing our impact further. It starts with awareness of the good work we do, and a commitment to work with anyone who is aligned with our mission of improving the lives of women and girls in our community.

We will strengthen our partnerships with other community-based organizations and businesses to expand outreach and amplify the expertise needed to turn our research into action.

Using insights from the LCWAG Voices of Loudoun Women annual community assessment series, we will introduce new programs and refine existing offerings that maximize our impact. We also believe in the power and potential of our youth; their fresh perspectives play an active role in our mission. Insights and energy from the next generation is essential to our path forward. 

Realizing our vision also requires ensuring the sustainability of our programs and organization. This recognition will propel LCWAG to explore new funding opportunities and resources, and we are excited about the journey ahead!


Ferri Riar,

Chair, Loudoun Coalition on Women and Girls