The energy was palpable in the room as Pearl Galbraith called the Inspired Women meeting to order on June 8 at noon exactly, quieting the 70 or so women who were busy chatting, networking and catching up with one another.
Inspired Women meetings — aimed at connecting, celebrating and empowering working women, run on a tight, one-hour format specifically designed to nurture women in an uplifting setting before getting them back to work on time. But they also offer networking time before and after meetings if women choose to come early or linger afterward.
“I want women to leave with an enhanced skill set,” said Galbraith, a financial adviser for Edward Jones.
She started Inspired Women in October 2015 because she saw a need to bring working women together.
“It was birthed out of a gap I felt,” she said.
Galbraith and her husband Mark relocated from Seattle to the Flathead Valley in 1998. She spent many years in Vancouver, British Columbia, before that.
“The Flathead is a fun place to vacation in, but a hard place [in which] to live,” she observed. “I’m a city girl … I couldn’t find my tribe.”
Galbraith was sure there were other entrepreneurial, “A-type” personality women in the Flathead with a desire to achieve, much like herself. She just needed to find them.
“Women in general here [often] settle for what they have, thinking there’s nothing else,” she said. Galbraith worked in corporate finance before moving to the Flathead and thrived in that environment.
There aren’t a lot of top-tier white-collar jobs for women in the Flathead, she said, and while there are lots of small businesses, they “rarely pay to send employees to self-improvement courses.”
Galbraith brought her idea for a working women’s group to Canvas Church in Kalispell, which opened the door to the program. Inspired Women Inc. just received its nonprofit status. She credits her hardworking board of directors and other volunteers for the growing organization.
Inspired Women intentionally is not politically correct, she pointed out. It’s founded and led by Christian principles.
“We say grace,” she said. “And the speaker doesn’t have to treat her faith as taboo.”
The overriding goal is to provide “tangible information” for working women.
Galbraith loved big-city life, but her roots are completely rural. She was born and raised on a farm in wind-swept Saskatchewan, Canada, about two hours north of Malta on the Montana Hi-Line.
When she was 13 her father sold the farm and moved the family to Vancouver, B.C. Galbraith left a school of 27 students in grades K-8 and was plopped into a school of 400 students. She immediately found her niche in sports. Basketball dominated her high school years, and she still checks once in a while to see if her records are still intact.
Galbraith’s father opened a candy store in Vancouver and she helped out with the family business.
“I loved to work,” she stated unequivocally.
When it came to leadership, Galbraith always rose to the top, whether it was in school or at work. For about a decade, including her years at Trinity Western University where she studied business, she worked for her cousins’ family-owned restaurant chain. Galbraith became the lead trainer for the franchise.
In 1991 her networking savvy led to a job offer in corporate finance and she jumped at the opportunity. Galbraith flourished in that world, but then was laid off and offered a severance package of a year’s pay in 1998. Her husband had sold his retail sporting-goods stores and accepted an offer to build a second home in the Flathead for some acquaintances.
“We came here for one year,” and that was supposed to be it, she recalled. Then the home burned down and the owners begged Mark to rebuild it. That meant staying in the Flathead another year.
“Two years is now nearly 20,” she reflected.
They settled in Whitefish, where they raised their sons, Joe, 26, and Drew, 24, and are still raising their daughter, Samantha, who is 14.
Galbraith has always wanted to return to Seattle.
“I pushed from 2011 to 2015 to move back to Seattle. I was missing the culture and the energy, but my family revolted on me,” she said with a smile.
The rest of her family was “anchored” in Montana with no intention of returning to big-city life, so Galbraith had to develop a plan for what to do for the rest of her career. She loved finance, so she began pursuing opportunities in personal finance. That led her to the Edward Jones financial services firm, a company she “handpicked.”
“They allow me to create the business focus I want,” Galbraith said. “They have a phenomenal support staff and their partnership philosophy complements my philosophy.”
She began work with Edward Jones in January 2016, partnering at first with Jon Jordan in South Kalispell. A month ago she moved into her own office at 1874 U.S. 93 N. in Kalispell.
“Managing money is the least taught life skill,” Galbraith stressed.
Helping people manage their money and plan for the future falls directly in line with her mission of helping women create opportunities for themselves. At Galbraith’s core is a born leader and mentor.
“I want to be grounded and do things that make a contribution,” she said.
For more information about Inspired Women and meeting information, go online to inspired-women.org or find Inspired on Facebook.
Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or firstname.lastname@example.org.