Amna Sohail

The 500 Festival Princess Program has many bold ambitions. Among the most daring of which is to cultivate “Indiana’s next generation of leaders.” This year, the Program accepted 33 collegiate women leaders. It was a true honor for me to be selected with such an inspiring and driven group of women. We were all very lucky to be provided with a platform to challenge ourselves to become leaders grounded in the values of community and life-long learning.

We were exposed to so many unique experiences. A few examples included going through the 500 Festival Leadership Program, presented by BKD, mentorship provided by 33 500 Festival Board Directors, and exposure to influential community leaders. We had no shortage of opportunities to cultivate leadership by expanding our network and by intentionally building meaningful relationships. I was amazed and grateful to be surrounded by both female and male role models that not only made a big impact through their careers, but in their communities as well.

My 500 Festival Board Director, Zack Scott, a retired UPS Ohio Valley District President, has played a pivotal role in my personal and professional development. During our coffee chats and lunch meetings, Zack coached me on quantifying my value and taking initiative to grow in my leadership as I embarked on my journey as a young professional. His motto of “What gets measured gets done,” still runs through my head regularly. Through his lessons and personal network, I had the opportunity to meet and showcase my value to influential community leaders at United Way of Central Indiana. I now get to translate these relationship-building skills as a full-time Corporate Engagement Associate at United Way, where I get to engage corporate partners within our great community.

One of the most gratifying experiences of being a Princess was seeing other women leaders like 500 Festival Board Director, Allison Melangton, Senior Vice President of Events at Hulman Motorsports, be bold in their careers and let their work and results speak for themselves. Other inspirational experiences included the leadership development sessions; I remember the one with United Way of Central Indiana (UWCI) in particular. At this session, the 500 Festival Princesses and I had the chance to meet UWCI’s President and CEO, Ann Murtlow. I still remember when Ann was asked about the challenges she faced as a female CEO earlier on in a male-dominated industry, she simply said, “Don’t focus on barriers. Don’t be afraid to bet on yourself.”

Too often, women lack confidence in themselves and their capabilities on a professional level. Through changing our mindsets, we can be empowered to tap into our own potentials, to learn from failures, and to do things we never imagined. As a 500 Festival Princess, I am empowered to never focus on the barriers when it comes to the workplace.

If you are interested in being part of a program that challenges you to not only connect with your community on a deeper level but to also grow as an emerging leader on a personal and professional level, then the 500 Festival Princess Program is for you. As the popular saying goes, “you’re only as good as the people you surround yourself with.” When you are a 500 Festival Princess, you are choosing to be surrounded by 33 motivated, intelligent, and civic-minded Princesses as well as other impactful leaders in the community. Never be afraid to bet on yourself!

To learn more about the 500 Festival Princess Program, click here.