THE BLOG
11/19/2014 01:22 pm ET Updated Jan 19, 2015

Changing the World One Woman at a Time

If we are to live a life of purpose, we must dream big dreams and develop big visions. I have learned to think of dreams and visions as distinct from one another, but both equally important in making a life comprised of progress and meaning.

Whenever I discuss dreams with friends and colleagues, I've found they often revolve around a very specific goal for ourselves or for our families. These are what propel us forward in the day-to-day. A vision, on the other hand, is a dream that's been amplified to a rallying cry that speaks to the hearts and desires of many and attracts numerous people to see it realized. A vision is a force to be reckoned with.

Vicki Escarra, CEO of Opportunity International, is enabling women around the world to realize their dreams and, in the process, create positive economic visions for whole communities. Millions of women lacking resources and opportunities have come to Opportunity International with a dream of starting a business to support themselves and their families and, through microloans that enable entrepreneurial opportunities, they become visionaries who lead their communities to live bigger and better lives -- together.

Vicki herself has achieved many dreams, as she scaled up the corporate ladder at Delta Airlines over the course of 30 years, ultimately becoming the CMO. With changes in the airline industry after 9/11, she began asking, "Is this all there is? Is this the rest of my life?" And, as so many of her vocational dreams came to fruition, she developed a vision to be part of something with greater impact on people's lives, far beyond herself. She began working in the non-profit sector, seeking to make a difference for those lacking in opportunities for education and vocation. In 2012, she joined Opportunity International and has dramatically increased the number of loans provided and is expanding the scope of the organization's work through education loans for impoverished families.

She shared with me the story of a woman who experienced unimaginable trauma and loss following the genocide of her family. This incredible woman not only survived, but had the courage to dream of a business that would enable a better future for her family. Opportunity International provided the loan and mentorship that transformed this dream into a thriving business that today employs 20 people and has become a vision for transforming grief into forgiveness and possibility for an entire community.

Vicki reminds us that by pursuing our dreams and developing a vision others will also be passionate about, we can positively impact many lives.

My chat with Vicki was transformational for me. I was inspired to find new ways to contribute to the dreams of others and evolve my own vision. I know you too will be stirred and can't wait to hear your dreams and ideas to encourage more women to pursue their dreams.

To hear more from Vicki, check out the longer version of our chat.