To Top

Exploring Life & Business with Mary Harp of East Valley Leading Ladies

Today we’d like to introduce you to Mary Harp.

Hi Mary, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
The story of Leading Ladies actually starts with my friend Kayla – who lives in Southwest Florida.

As she and her husband were planning a move from Michigan to Naples, she was wanting to find other women like her leading in different industries, and in life. She desired genuine connection, and meaningful relationships that she could serve for a lifetime, and that would serve her for a lifetime.

But she couldn’t find what she was looking for. So instead, Kayla decided to create it! Kayla realized that if this wasn’t already out there, then there had to be other ladies looking for something like this, too. And Leading Ladies was born!

The dream was an environment that we experience every month at our events. Excellent, fun, and approachable. A place where ladies could meet other professionals who are leaders in their geographical area. It’s casual, relaxed, and fun.

When Kayla started in June 2021, she hoped to meet 10 new ladies. But instead, 49 women showed up! Proving how much ladies want and need this type of Networking.

I got to watch the beginning of Leading Ladies unfold from the sidelines. In the early days, I was Kayla’s biggest cheerleader. And in November of last year, I got the opportunity to visit the Leading Ladies community she created in Southwest Florida, After that visit, I had one question: How is this not everywhere!?!

I knew there were ladies in my own community just like me who desired this type of connection and community. A group where we could celebrate each other’s wins. Where we would show up as our authentic selves. Where we would represent ourselves, our business, and our brand in such a fun and natural way.

I also understood the science behind why this model works for personal and professional growth. My background is the people side of organizational leadership: how joy-based relational attachments and healthy group identity help us flourish in all areas of life.

At Leading Ladies, we really believe that you can develop meaningful relationships that last a lifetime, that is professional but are also really fun.

So in November of 2021, I partnered with Kayla to create the franchise model for Leading Ladies across the globe, starting right in my own backyard (Arizona’s East Valley). Our partnership pairs Kayla’s vision and passion with my strategic insight.

On January 12, 2022 – 50 Ladies leading in all different industries gathered for our first natural networking event at Palette Collective in Chandler. Since then, we’ve continued meeting monthly on the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 6-8 pm at different locations across the East Valley. We’ve also launched our first Mastermind for intentional business growth.

And will be adding several franchise locations across the country this year.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
I am very grateful that when I started East Valley Leading Ladies, there was another location operating in Southwest Florida for me to borrow wisdom & best practices. This gave me a soft place to land while I established my own footing. My husband will tell you that my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

I often commit to something before I internalize the scope of my “yes.” Once I’m in the process, I find a way to execute. A “smooth road” for me means staying curious, trying lots of different things, investing more in what works, pivoting quickly when something doesn’t, and then automating and delegating so I can keep building. That’s all par for the course.

What I did not expect was that I would be so afraid. Especially in the months leading up to our first event. When bedtime came – when the lights were off and it was just me and my thoughts, the pressure in my chest would build. What if I can’t do it? What if no one comes? What happens if they like the concept but not me? What happens if I’m successful and my whole life changes? Am I ready for it? Can I handle it? What if they think I’m a fraud?

I did not think that I would feel so insecure about my ability to execute the vision I had in my heart for the type of community we would create in Arizona’s East Valley.

Here’s the thing about fear: It can be a very helpful and healthy emotion. Fear is your body and mind signaling to you that you may be in danger. Ignoring or suppressing fear is like ignoring the maintenance light on your car. You have to acknowledge that it’s there so that you can learn what you need from it and move forward.

Fear lives in paralysis. Fear lives in the freeze. When we pretend that we aren’t afraid, we actually amplify our fear. But when we can acknowledge our fear, we can move in spite of it.

I had to admit that I was afraid. Once I admitted I was afraid, I could ask myself why. When I knew why then I could tell people I trusted about the fear. I would get reality from them and from my results. If after that, I still had a reason to be afraid, then I could make an action plan to stack the deck in my favor and prevent the threat from becoming reality.

This process helped me to take ownership of my feelings and get back into action. In my work with emerging leaders, I know that I’m not alone in feeling fear. The more successful a person becomes, the more there is to lose. And the more there is to lose, the more we can feel afraid.

That’s why Leading Ladies is so important to our community. When I participate in a healthy community, I learn that I am not alone in my fear. There are others just like me going through similar struggles and challenges. I can express my fear in the safety of a supportive community.

And I can work through it, so that the next time that it comes, I recover quicker. In the case that my fear came true and I suffered a failure or loss, I’m able to separate my identity and self-worth from the results. Because I know that I belong to a group that accepts me and welcomes me as I am. I am enough.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about East Valley Leading Ladies?
We like to say that we’re not your grandpa’s networking group.

We are a natural networking group for women who lead in business or in life. Our events are entertainment meets networking. And the purpose is to build relationships that will extend beyond the events into mutual business profitability.

Each month, we highlight different ladies in our Network as the featured venue and vendors. Rotating locations and activities each month gives these women the space to share what they do! It’s fun for us to experience new locations and activities and it keeps things exciting each month.

We believe there is so much talent in our area. By featuring different vendors and venues each month, we get a taste of the women-owned and operated businesses here in East Valley.

Our events happen on the 2nd Wednesday of the month from 6-8 pm. We don’t do monthly membership dues because we believe ladies on the go need the flexibility to come when they can and skip when they can’t. The group was designed once a month because we believe in having a low-cost, low-time commitment, and high ROI.

One event each month that leads to valuable 1:1 interactions over the next 3-4 weeks is a better process than weekly meetings with high annual fees.

Besides the monthly events, we also have a monthly Mastermind for more intentional business growth. Ladies who participate in the Mastermind have access to resources and accountability that will take their brand & business to the next level.

One of our core values is generosity, so once a quarter, we break from our traditional meetings and host a Charity Giveback open to the public. Each giveback features a local non-profit. Our next Charity Giveback is Saturday, June 25 from 10 to 1 pm at Mountain Park Church in Ahwatukee.

We’ve partnered with Arizona Mommies, a community of 40K moms to provide a Family Fun event benefitting Amanda Hope Rainbow Angels – a local non-profit meeting the here & now needs of families impacted by childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses.

We are currently looking for event sponsors and vendors for this event.

Where we are in life is often partly because of others. Who/what else deserves credit for how your story turned out?
Oh man, so many people, too many to name.

During my undergrad, the president of the university, Dr. Mark Rutland said “a turtle doesn’t get on top of a fencepost by itself.” That’s always stuck with me. Wherever we are in life, we didn’t get there by ourselves. It was in receiving the right relational nutrients from the right people at the right times that helped us become who we are today.

Besides my family, mentors, and colleagues, the greatest individuals that have impacted me are the people in my life team. A life team is like a personal board of advisors: a group of individuals with shared essential values who enjoy one another, are in it together, and have committed to growing together.

They accept me without judgment. They point to the good in me. They help me to avoid costly mistakes in life. They confront me when I need to make a change. In short, they help me to be more of who I really am. Because of them, I recover quicker from losses, I feel engaged and connected to the world around me, and I produce better results.

My life team includes my husband, key family members, my business partner Kayla, and several women who are in peer groups with me. It also includes several women I have met through Leading Ladies.


  • Monthly Event Tickets: Start at $30/person
  • Mastermind Group: Start at $100/month
  • Franchise Ownership: Reach out for Details

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Natalie Lynn Rockwall, Shaleena Danielle, and Shelly Ann Thompson

Suggest a Story: VoyagePhoenix is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

More in Local Stories