“If you want your life and words to truly make a difference, attach them to action.”
With those words, DeLores Pressley of Canton, an elementary school teacher in the city for nearly three decades, continues to be a mentor and an advocate for young women.
The founder and executive director of the nonprofit She Elevates also is the owner and operator of DeLores Pressley Worldwide, a personal and professional development company based in Canton that was created to empower women to achieve success in business.
“I love seeing people’s lives change,” explained Pressley, who parlayed a previous business—Dimensions Plus-Sized Modeling Agency—into a broader opportunity to do keynote speaking and become a trainer for personal and professional development through DeLores Pressley Worldwide. “I love seeing people take action to change their lives.
“My ideal client is a woman who has experienced success in her business or career, but she wants to take her life and business to another level.”
Pressley’s life in business was fostered long before the start of her
27-year teaching career for Canton City School District. It began, in a very real sense, when she herself was attending school.
“When I was a student in Canton schools, they had a program, I think it was in fifth grade, that gave us the opportunity to visit a business in downtown Canton,” she recalled. “I went to the Ohio Theater and talked to the owner. I didn’t know anything about entrepreneurship at the time.
“All these years, I had in the back of my mind the idea to teach young girls about entrepreneurship and help them develop a business. That’s what we’re all about.”
Pressley started She Elevates in 2018 following her operation of a women’s networking business called UP Woman—“Undeniably Powerful Woman.” She Elevates provides Pressley with a forum to train young women to be empowered and teach them to become successful entrepreneurs.
“My entire life has been about empowering women and girls.”
Part of the programming of She Elevates, which is funded through donations, is the She Elevates Academy. The Academy, which begins in June and for which girls can apply at the website SheElevates.org, allows young women to take a nine-week course in entrepreneurship. At the end of that course, participants will pitch ideas for businesses or speak about businesses they already started.
“From that, we want to give girls scholarships to develop or improve their businesses,” said Pressley. “We’ll take them under our wing for another nine weeks.”
Another training activity planned for She Elevates is a shadowing program which echoes the experiences of Pressley in her youth.
“The girls are going to visit businesses and talk to business owners,” said Pressley. “They’ll spend half a day with the owner.”
As she explains the offerings of She Elevates, Pressley is reminded of advice once offered by novelist Chuck Palahniuk. “We all die,” said Palahniuk. “The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.”
“I believe when I created She Elevates,” said Pressley, “I have created something that will live long past