YWRC Supporter Spotlight: Maggie Glisan

This month we are excited to feature a supporter that has joined alongside our journey for the past 14 years: Maggie Glisan! Maggie first learned about us back in 2010 as an active young professional and through our Sex Trivia and Celebrity Servers Night events. Learning about our mission and work is what has kept her coming back and engaged for more than a decade.

“I love the work that the YWRC does in Des Moines Public Schools for adolescent girls. Those years—6th, 7th, 8th grade—are such a rollercoaster and you can just see the bright spark fade from girls when body image and self-esteem start to become part of the equation. And now, with social media, girls are under even more pressure to fit in, to perform, to be liked, to be exceptional, etc. In a world where women are still earning 84 cents to the dollar compared to their male counterparts and are increasingly in jeopardy or losing their bodily autonomy, we need to do everything we can to empower young girls to understand their worth and encourage them to shine as their brightest selves.”

Most recently, Maggie volunteered as a Celebrity Server and as our YWRC Empower Gala co-chair for the past two years. In this role she promoted the event through her networks and TV appearance, encouraged guests to attend, connected us with more supporters, and helped to host the evening. We consider ourselves fortunate to have such a strong role model chair this event and were curious to learn what she thinks about when she hears the word “empower”:

“I think about community and connection. When we give others the tools, the support, the encouragement, it’s amazing what can flourish. But none of that happens in a vacuum. We have to be willing to meet with one another, listen to one another, and empathize with one another. When we do that, we all rise.”

As a child, Maggie had several role models that bestowed upon her this commitment to encouraging others and building community.

“I was lucky enough to have an amazing mother and two aunts who modeled what strong, independent women could look like with three very different life paths. They saw the gifts I had inside of me and nurtured my spark without every dictating where I needed to go. They were also open about their own struggles and encouraged me to see my own not as a weakness to overcome but as an important part of who I am.”

Lessons learned with her family have continued to grow throughout her life as she works alongside her peers.

“Today, I see many of my peers as role models. Many of my dear friends are also entrepreneurs, and I’ve looked to many of them for encouragement when I’m thinking about starting something new but am afraid it won’t be perfect or that I might fail. They’ve taught me what I have to offer the world matters, and what a shame it would be to not to share my gifts because of fear.”

Reflecting on the impact of her childhood role models, Maggie has the following advice she’d like to share with today’s youth (which is great advice for folks of any age):

“Don’t be afraid to ask for help. No one expects you to do everything yourself. No one expects you to know everything. No one wants you to go it alone. Too often—and I think girls especially—are afraid to ask for what they need for fear of being a burden or they afraid to put themselves out there for fear of embarrassment. Problems or obstacles tend to be a whole lot more overwhelming in your head. Share them. When they see the light, they’re a lot more manageable.”

Maggie has always been an active member of the Des Moines community. She spends time volunteering for the Des Moines Art Center and is also active in the Des Moines chapter of Les Dames Escoffier International, a philanthropic organization of women in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries.

When she’s not volunteering her time, Maggie enjoys a variety of activities.

“I have a 10-month-old son (Jack), so most of my days are currently filled running after a newly crawling baby! Being a mom wasn’t something I was sure was going to happen for me, so I’m really soaking in every moment. I’m fortunate enough to have flexible work—I’m a freelance editor and designer—so I do that in the margins (aka super early mornings and naptimes).

Otherwise, I love spending time with my little family (Jack, my husband Justin, and our rescue pup George), going on long walks in my neighborhood (Beaverdale), connecting with friends over coffee, getting in a good yoga session or Peloton ride, cooking, baking, and hosting parties, and doing all manner of artsy things like watercolor and calligraphy.”

We’re sure some of you are familiar with Maggie through her involvement with the YWRC and throughout the community, but here are three things you may not know about her:

  • I never met a dance floor I couldn’t dominate. I’m pretty sure I’ve been invited to a wedding or two solely based on my stellar enthusiastic moves.
  • I took up cookie decorating during the pandemic. Now I teach cookie decorating classes out at Rose Farm in Norwalk and do the occasional custom order when I have the time (wish I had more of it!)
  • I started playing tennis when I was 33. Even though I’m decidedly not very good at it, I love playing and it brings me so much joy. (A great reminder not to let fear keep you from trying something new!)

In addition to her variety skills, hard work, and support, we are also grateful for Maggie’s warm, friendly, and positive persona. It has been our pleasure to work alongside her as YWRC Empower Gala co-chair and we look forward to continued partnerships down the road. Thank you, Maggie, for gifting us your passion and time in support of the local girls and young women we serve!