The Alzenia Project x Polished Pebbles: Empowering Young Women through Mentorship and Communication - Cynthia Plouché & Kelly Fair

Point of View
4 min readOct 19, 2023

In the contemporary corporate landscape, the significance of effective communication skills for young girls and women cannot be overstated. These skills serve as the bedrock for success across all domains of life — enabling women to forge connections, assert their interests, and attain their aspirations. Recognizing the pivotal role of communication in fostering inclusivity, the Alzenia Project is resolutely committed to facilitating avenues of positive influence and fulfillment that can catalyze societal transformation.

Our core values are centered around the dynamic interplay of people and ideas. Our pursuit of partnerships with organizations that share our ethos exemplifies this commitment. One remarkable collaborator welcomed into the fold of our beneficiaries is the Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program. This initiative is a veritable bastion of communication proficiency and mentorship initiatives designed to equip young women with the skills requisite for future employability, empowering them to shape the contours of the evolving workplace. My interaction with Kelly Fair, the visionary behind Polished Pebbles, has been inspiring as we delve into their mission and explore the synergies between our organizations.

At the heart of Polished Pebbles’ mission lies the unwavering commitment to arming girls in the greater Chicago area with tools to nurture self-assurance and fully engage in their academic and professional pursuits. Kelly’s inspiration for founding Polished Pebbles is a testament to the transformative influence of mentors who believed in her potential. Reflecting on her formative experiences, Kelly recounted how she was mentored during her early days, working on a beauty college’s floors and cash registers. The camaraderie and guidance she received propelled her to dream of an organization that would empower girls and women, imbuing them with confidence and leadership capabilities. Today, Polished Pebbles is a testament to that vision, having positively impacted over 10,000 African American and Latinx girls through mentorship initiatives spanning over a decade.

Polished Pebbles Alum and current Student Ambassador, Ja’Kayla Lewis writes, “I started Polished Pebbles as a student who mostly sat in the back of the classroom and just listened. I was encouraged and so much was poured into me by my mentor that I decided to step outside of my comfort zone to become who I am today. I see a big difference in myself today compared to when I first started the program in 7th grade. I have been able to build an international network of peers, speak at large events, be more involved in my community, research career industries and learn how to become an entrepreneur. My job shadow experience almost three years ago has impacted me to become a Real Estate Broker and Agent. I will be the 2023–2024 Every Girl Is A CEO Global Career Conference and Real Estate Student Ambassador for Polished Pebbles Girls Mentoring Program. Mentoring matters, and if you don’t believe me… my story tells it all.”

Shared values of community engagement, giving back, and mentorship form the cornerstone of Kelly’s journey and mine. As we delve into the reasons behind the nomenclature of Polished Pebbles, Kelly recalls a moment of revelation during her transition from corporate America to her entrepreneurial pursuit. An editorial by Susan Taylor in Essence, resonated deeply with her, highlighting the transformative potential of relationships. The metaphor of pebbles polishing one another through mutual support encapsulates the essence of their work.

The alignment between the Alzenia Project and Polished Pebbles is rooted in our collective commitment to enhancing the prospects and lives of young women of color. Through mentorship and a drive for inclusivity, our partnership extends the legacy of collaboration among black women in support of their communities. Kelly articulates the significance of this partnership in fostering a robust support network that will, in turn, amplify its positive impact on countless more girls. Moreover, she underlines the broader message this collaboration sends — that sustained financial backing is essential for the growth of Black-led organizations. We hope to inspire others to rally behind and co-create a more sustainable future for such organizations by setting this precedent.

Our partnership embodies the confluence of strategic vision and shared values. Through our collaborative efforts, we are honing young women’s communication skills and forging a path toward empowerment, equity, and a future where these exceptional girls can stand tall as the architects of their success stories.

If you want to learn more about Polished Pebbles, contact Nia Lackland, Marketing Manager,

To meet other Alzenia Project grantees, visit the Alzenia Project website, or to get involved, connect with Cynthia Plouché on LinkedIn.



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