why NextGroup?

Some basic misconceptions stand in the way of women rejoining the workforce. Employers often believe that time away from a career means lost ability or skill, or that the need for flexibility means a desire for less responsibility. Women often fear that without 100% of the skills listed in a job description, they aren’t qualified to apply.  All of these add up to the very real challenges for women, the most significant of which is the gender pay gap, otherwise known as the “Mommy Tax”.

Today, 43% of highly-qualified women leave the paid workforce, yet only 74% of those who leave will rejoin the workforce in any capacity, 40% with full-time jobs.

With a growing job market, aging workforce and lower work participation, greater opportunities for women are within reach. But sometimes finding them is a challenge. 
As one expert put it, “There’s this industry that says, ‘We don’t have enough talent,’ and there’s this talent that is just waiting to get back to work.” 

So now's the time to get started!
Our Community     |     Our Story     |     Our Team

Our community 

Why are we focused locally at NextGroup?  You. That’s why!
In Evanston, 2/3 of women hold bachelor’s degrees or higher, and at least 2/3 of public officials and individuals in leadership positions on boards, nonprofits, and civic initiatives are women.  
Evanston has a greater percentage of women-owned businesses and self-employed women, with a greater degree of diverse career and educational experiences than neighboring communities.
What does this translate into:  a highly-qualified, diverse, leadership-focused workforce!

Our Story

We’re Evanston moms. We’ve worked together for years, on PTAs, at fundraisers, raising kids and driving carpools. We also put careers on hold, professional lives we worked hard to create. 

Ready to return to the workforce, we didn’t anticipate the challenges we would face. And looking around, we recognized we weren’t alone.  In sharing the stories of our own journeys, the unexpected obstacles and setbacks, we realized our greatest resource was each other. 

Harnessing the wealth and strength of the community of women we've build over the years, we founded NextGroup. At NextGroup, we’re committed to making things easier for you. 

By connecting women relaunching careers to businesses searching for talent, we want to ensure that a career break doesn’t need to be the end of a career.

Meet Our Team

Candance Chow is dedicated to empowering women to be valued both in and out of the paid workforce. She started her career advocating for gender equity and the advancement of women in the workplace, serving as Deputy Executive Director of Business and Professional Women/USA. After earning her M.B.A, Candance owned InSight Consulting Group, a management consulting firm focused on growth and innovation strategy. As an Evanston community leader, Candance served on the District 65 School Board and ran as a Democrat for IL State House of Representatives. Candance holds a B.A. from American University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. 

Melanie Wright has a passion for coaching and career development and has served in both admissions and career-coaching roles at Kellogg School of Management. She was instrumental in rolling out career development programming at Kellogg before taking on the role of Director for the MS in Management Studies program. She started her career as a systems analyst at Eli Lilly before entering the world of management consulting at Diamond Technology Partners. Melanie currently serves on the Chiaravalle Montessori Board and as Treasurer for Evanston Dance Ensemble. Melanie holds a B.S. from Indiana University and an M.B.A. from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.

Joan Sherman is a program, strategy, and evaluation consultant working across a wide range of sectors, including women's empowerment and gender equity, girls education, micro-finance, public health, and philanthropy. Joan worked for CARE International in Haiti and India, at the MacArthur Foundation, Northwestern University, and The Libra Foundation. For 12 years, she was on the Board of Directors for the Women’s Global Education Project, has served as an advisory board member for Children's Place International, and is a founding board member of the Grand'Anse Health and Development Association. Joan has a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and a M.A. from George Washington University.