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The Paradigm Scholarship for Working Women

The Paradigm Scholarship for Working Women has awarded $872,000 since 2000 to women working to complete their undergraduate degrees. The merit-based scholarship is awarded annually to women working full-time at Chamber member companies with up to $5,000 for tuition and course-related expenses required for enrollment or course instruction such as fees, books, computers, and other supplies. You can help support this scholarship with a tax-deductible donation here.


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Watch the acceptance speech

WATCH: Sue Jacobson on Going For It

The businesswoman and former Chamber of Commerce board chair won the Chamber’s prestigious Paradigm Award for women last month. Her speech is a font of leadership wisdom we should all heed

WATCH: Sue Jacobson on Going For It

The businesswoman and former Chamber of Commerce board chair won the Chamber’s prestigious Paradigm Award for women last month. Her speech is a font of leadership wisdom we should all heed

When Sue Jacobson took the helm of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia board in 2020 — the first woman in 20 years to do so — she had to abandon whatever plans she’d made for the job of leading the organization that represents 1,600 businesses and over 600,000 employees in the region.

Instead, she had to face — as we all did — Covid. Lucky for us, we had Jacobson steering the city’s business community during the unprecedented health and civic disaster. The founder and CEO of 14-year-old Jacobson Communications, a PR, communications and crisis management firm, Jacobson handled the catastrophe the way she has handled professional challenges her whole career, starting with a stint in Mayor Rendell’s office: She called her friends and colleagues for help — in getting people back to work, keeping the economy going and helping the city recover from Covid.

“And no one,” she told a crowd at the Chamber’s Paradigm Award celebration in late March, “ever said no. Ever. Yes, some might say that I did drive them a little crazy. Yes, I also had the Chamber platform, and I did have a historic crisis to help get things done. But the key to it was doing something I believe we all need to be intentional about: I empowered others and I made sure they were recognized and they were thanked.”

For her work as the Chamber’s board chair, her decades as a Philly businesswoman, and her legacy of mentorship and civic involvement, Jacobson was honored with this year’s Paradigm Award, given each year to the “businesswoman whose outstanding professional and personal achievements serve as a model for success.”

Her speech at a luncheon in her honor was full of lessons for women at every stage of their career, from just starting out to launching their own business, including this gem: “I vowed when I started Jacobson that no one would ever come to work with a sick feeling in their stomach, because of office politics, or maybe an unintended mistake. Like who makes a mistake on purpose?”

It’s hard to imagine — but also kind of a comfort — that Jacobson might still have to convince herself to be brave and believe in herself. That makes her lessons all the more salient:

1. “Just stop telling yourself you’re a fraud. And if you don’t quite believe in yourself, just push against your fears and just go for it anyway.”

2. “On the way, always be there for your friends. And here’s why. When they need you, they’ll be there for you too. And you’ll be there for them.”

3. “Great leaders … lift and empower others. Through all of my experiences, I’ve learned that lifting yourself up means nothing in comparison to lifting up the people around you.”

4. “It is okay to feel frightened.”

5. “I don’t think it works to tell people what to do instead. Listening to all the voices around the table, collaborating, checking egos at the door, is what really gets things done and gets the best out of people. And this is important and particularly important for the women in this room.”

Watch Jacobson’s full speech below:


Sue Jacobson speaks at the 2024 Paradigm Awards. Photo courtesy of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.

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