Empowering Change: Susan Kyles on Leading with Vision at Dress for Success Washington, DC

At Noetic, we love highlighting strong women leaders who inspire us personally and professionally – as leaders, collaborators and humans. They are influential in their respective fields, and they leverage their leadership positions to uplift, encourage and support other women.

March, especially, is a time to celebrate the power of women’s efforts to drive positive change. We are proud to feature Susan Kyles, Executive Director at Dress for Success Washington, DC (DFSWDC), on the Noetic Blog. Dress for Success empowers women to achieve economic independence, and it was an absolute pleasure learning how Susan continues to drive forward progress.


Q: Welcome Susan! Let’s start with your thoughts on how your diverse business background has been beneficial in leading DFSWDC.

A: My experience in the corporate world has proved helpful in many ways. As an Executive Director of any organization, it’s important to have business acumen and skills in finance and project management. You also need to balance the strategic vision to innovate and the analytical mindset to solve problems. As important, though, my passion for the work is most beneficial. My father would always say, “All she needs is a cause,” and that persistent attitude drives me to think creatively about more resources, more opportunities, and more ways to ensure women are able to really provide for their families and children.

 “First and foremost, my heart for the purpose and mission of the organization keeps me fully immersed in the cause and the community.”


Q: How has your vision for the organization changed through the years?

A: My vision has changed significantly over the years. At first, the priority was dressing women, helping women secure a job, get training, or move from one position to another. While those things remain imperative, we are now also focused on making sure women not only have these opportunities, but that there are policies in place that help make the pathway easier. For example, childcare laws and leave policies are instrumental in ensuring economic self-sufficiency.

“Women have to contend with many different things to be successful in the workplace and it’s our job to identify those hurdles and help overcome them.”


Q: Success has such a different meaning for everyone, especially the women that this organization serves. What are your thoughts on the word success?

A: Success is personal and self-defined. Nobody can tell you what drives you and makes you happy. Every year we do a vision-boarding exercise, giving women the opportunity to sit back and think about where they see themselves in 5 years. What would that look like? What do you need to get there? At the end of the day, we work with our clients to ensure they can figure out what success means to them.

“Trying on your model for success and having the ability to change your mind and explore something else is the very definition of the word.”


Q: What is your advice for women regarding agility and resilience?

A: Being agile and resilient are two of the most important qualities for women today. As we have all witnessed in the last few years, things can change quickly and significantly, and sometimes without warning or notice. We must practice agility and let go of a rigid mindset. What the workplace looks like today is very different than what it was, and you need to figure out how you fit in.

“Resilience means adapting to tough times. Everyone gets knocked down. It’s what happens when you get back up that matters most.”


Q: Can you share some recent Dress for Success initiatives and how people can get involved?

A: In celebration of Women’s History Month, we are running our “Your Hour ~ Her Power” campaign and amplifying our clients’ voices weekly on our social channels. Another important DFSWDC initiative is the Grow with Google certification program. We offer scholarships in 6 areas: Cybersecurity, Project Management, Data Analytics, Digital Marketing & E-Commerce, IT Support and User Experience Design. These are all certifications necessary for future jobs and they pay 2-3 times more than a living wage. I am so excited about this certification program because it truly changes the trajectory of the women’s lives.


As we reflect on Susan’s leadership’s impact and the significant strides made by Dress for Success Washington, DC, we are reminded of the collective power of individuals working towards a common goal. The success stories woven through the fabric of DFSWDC are not just testaments to individual triumphs but also a call to action for all of us to support, uplift, and empower women in our communities.

If you want to learn more about volunteering, visit DCdressforsuccess.org, navigate to the volunteering page and complete the application.