Meet Abby, Our Executive Director

Connect with our new Executive Director, Abby Guyer.

This July, Xcelerate officially welcomed Abby Guyer as our new Executive Director. Abby had served as the interim Executive Director since December 2022. We asked Abby a few short questions about her professional journey and the vision she brings to Xcelerate.

What inspires you about Xcelerate's work/mission? 

At Xcelerate, we help women and gender expansive business owners overcome systemic inequities to grow their businesses and build economic power now. I love that the emphasis is on collective economic power for women not someday, but right now, and on changing the face of success in business to be more inclusive, authentic, and sustainable. Xcelerate is shifting the narrative to value the ways women show up in business, on their own terms. Sure, women want professional success for themselves as individuals, but we also come to entrepreneurship as a path to economic freedom for our families and our communities. By providing access to gender and culturally competent business advising, peer mentorship, and growth education resources, we amplify women, increase their self-efficacy, and build their social capital in both urban and rural communities. We pay our coaches for their expertise, creating a circular economy of women supporting women. We work with brilliant women and incredible community partners every day. There is so much to be inspired by in our work!

How has your identity as a woman and any and all other intersectional identities impacted your career journey? 

I spent the first half of my career working for global consumer brands first in action sports and later in fashion and trend marketing in Portland and NYC. When my kids were little, I decided to try my hand at freelancing but missed the sense of belonging to and learning from a global team. I reentered the full-time job market to find myself “over qualified” and stuck in a mom-zone I hadn’t fully acknowledged existed. I finally took the “VP” title off of my resume and took a substantial pay cut just to get my foot back in the door. A few years later I was recruited to nonprofit leadership and it’s been a great path for me. Wouldn’t it be nice though if more corporate retention programs existed to support new parents? And if societal expectations - our own included - around work/life balance didn’t push women into a false decision making matrix? It’s been interesting to see companies struggle over “return to office” mandates over the last several months - women of all ages and career stages have realized they don’t necessarily need to live with pay gaps, biases, and broken ladders. Entrepreneurship is one way to opt out of a system that may not be working for all of us. 

If you could pick any superpower, what would it be and why? 

I might like to live in parallel universes at the same time - to be able to see the paths not taken and what those outcomes might have been. Or to get to live all the options at once. Oh wait - isn’t that Everything, Everywhere, All at Once? Being a kung fu sifu would be nice too.

What are you most excited about working as the next Executive Director with Xcelearate Women? 

I served in an interim ED capacity over the last six months and really focused on Xcelerate’s internal systems and making sure team members were supported during a period of transition. Now that I’m in a permanent leadership role, I’m excited to engage more deeply with our community partners and women business owners across the state. I just got back from a trip to Roseburg and visited the amazing Women in Business group facilitated by our partners at Coos, Curry, Douglas Business Development Corp (CCD). Right now we are digging into growth strategies for Washington County, proactively recruiting Spanish speaking coaches, and reintroducing Mental Wellness Support services with our newest partners, Holistic Community Therapy. We are also working on a pilot Women in Construction peer group for this fall in partnership with Professional Business Development Group (PDBG). I’m excited to keep delivering our highest value programs - one-on-one coaching and peer mentorship - and to explore flexible, stackable growth education options for 2024 that center the specific needs of women entrepreneurs. Next month we’ll be rolling out a community-wide survey to inform multi-year planning and ensure Xcelerate continues to be responsive to the needs of women-business owners across the state.

What are three things that supporters can do now to best impact women business owners? 

Hire women of all ages/stages and pay them what they are worth. List the salary range on job postings! Support women-owned small businesses with investment dollars, access to capital, and your day to day business. Be generous with your contacts. And of course, contribute to organizations like Xcelerate who are helping women create economic power, build generational wealth, and positively impact their communities. I think that’s more than three!

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