Tiffany Tardy Finds Culture and Freedom in Her New Role as President and CEO of PEARLS for Teen Girls

PEARLS’ Newest President and CEO

She is just six weeks into her new role at PEARLS for Teen Girls, but Tiffany Tardy says the relationships she’s creating with her staff and the PEARLS community are genuine and will be ever-lasting.

Tardy – whose career is based on helping young women, youth empowerment, access to education, community engagement, and equal opportunity – transitioned from Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation Executive Director to the new PEARLS President and CEO. She said PEARLS is a combination of her entire career.

“PEARLS enhances all of these things,” she said.

PEARLS is a leadership development non-profit in Milwaukee serving girls in 5th through 12th grade. 2023 marks 30 years of service for an organization that originally started as volunteers.

“The foundation of PEARLS is so strong,” said Tardy who credits past leaders Gerry Howze and Colleen Fitzgerald for their hard work and commitment to the betterment of PEARLS girls.

“There is this passion and commitment that resonates from these leaders,” she added.

PEARLS President and CEO Tiffany Tardy.
PEARLS President and CEO Tiffany Tardy. (Picture by Alvin R Connor Jr.)

Being Able to Lead Authentically

Tardy has found herself in many leadership roles, but this one is the first where she feels comfortable being herself. As a Black woman, Tardy said it was a must that her next career move involved being surrounded by an extremely diverse team, and that’s what she found at PEARLS.

At PEARLS, Tardy can lead without the need for code-switching.

“You can just be you…It empowers me to lead authentically and be comfortable in that.”

-Tiffany Tardy

Being a Black woman in corporate comes with things that most don’t talk about, but to be in a workplace that feels like home is exactly what Tardy has been searching for.

“It just feels like I was set up for success,” said Tardy.

The Future of PEARLS

Since 1993, PEARLS has been serving the young women of Milwaukee. Tardy says there’s a misconception that PEARLS is just a pregancy prevention program, but it’s so much more.

“What we’re doing at PEARLS is transformational,” she said.

PEARLS is focused on improving the quality of life and strengthening the Milwaukee community through empowering young women. The organization strives to meet its mission by providing support groups, college career and readiness, and one-on-one coaching.

“I see PEARLS having a larger impact,” said Tardy who wants to double the amount of girls served by PEARLS within three years. PEARLS serves a little over 1,000 girls each year, totaling around 10,000 within its 30 years. Tardy would like to see those numbers reach 2,500-3,000 per year.

Although Milwaukee has always been their focus, Tardy eventually envisions PEARLS’ curriculum going global. Until then, she’s currently working to strengthen partnerships locally with community-based organizations and Milwaukee Public Schools.

With lots of new changes in leadership, PEARLS is spending the rest of the year regrouping to ensure its impact is bigger than ever.

“PEARLS is here to stay. PEARLS is stable and that there’s a lot more to come,” said Tardy.

Support PEARLS

Support the mission of PEARLS here.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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