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Governor Spotlight: Julie Wade

By Kelli Walker

Julie Wade is a connector—one of those rare human beings who not only sees the potential of connecting one opportunity with another, but takes action to bring ideas and people together, creating a multiplying power that leads to something meaningful, effective, and exciting.

Julie has worked and volunteered for nonprofit organizations throughout her life. When she and her family lived in Hinsdale, IL, Opportunity International’s headquarters were close to home. Almost twenty years ago, one of the first Opportunity people she met was Lillian Covington, originally from Kenya and today a vice president of philanthropy at the organization. Julie and several of her friends had the chance to learn about our work; she remembers visiting with daughters of women who had received business loans, training, and support through Opportunity Trust Groups in Africa. These young women had traveled to the US to share their stories of hope and purpose; Trust Groups were a key factor in the success of the women loan recipients – success that rippled to their daughters’ generation.

Around that same time, Julie became a stylist with cabi, a fashion company committed to social responsibility. The Heart of cabi Foundation works to empower women through restoration, vocation, and education; they have been a longtime, loyal partner of Opportunity International. For every new cabi stylist, cabi provides funding to help a woman entrepreneur in a developing country. Cabi customers can choose to round up their order total, supporting Opportunity’s work. Through cabi, Julie’s entrepreneurial skills and her heart for supporting impactful nonprofits found a wonderful place to flourish.

Like any good connector, Julie sees “the next possibility.” She notes the critical importance of human-centered interventions and adapting to the specific needs of the people we serve; she remembers learning that, as Opportunity listened to our microloan clients, we heard that a common challenge was repaying the loan while needing to pay school fees to send their children to school. We spotted the opportunity—the chance for connection—and launched Opportunity’s Education Finance program that connects both parents and schools to financial resources, training, and support—one of very few nonprofit organizations to do so.

Seeking deeper and broader connections always, Julie’s community of friends and family continues to support Opportunity with their time, talent, and treasures. Julie cherishes the chance to “open people’s eyes” to our vast and diverse world. She traveled to China with Opportunity and has an upcoming Insight Trip to Colombia; she has attended several Opportunity Summits around the country; she graciously has hosted events that bring together new and old friends to learn more about our work from Opportunity senior leaders. She has volunteered to review applications for the Women and Girls Opportunity (WeGO) Awards. Julie has committed to supporting Opportunity as a Governor, with gifts and service as an Opportunity advocate to friends and colleagues.

Julie continues to volunteer in her communities in Florida and Michigan; she has raised her children to have the same commitment to making our world a better place. When the pandemic forced a local nonprofit to cancel their “fun run,” Julie convinced her family to do their own run and sent the donation to the nonprofit. It was so rewarding, they created their own ten week “fun run” tour, choosing to support a different nonprofit every week.

We are so grateful for literal and figurative “go-getters” like Julie and her family, friends, and colleagues. As an Opportunity International Governor, she leads by action, by example, by heart—motivated to help enable people to build lives of dignity and purpose.

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