As I think about this concept of “International Women’s Day,” I contemplate how far we have come as a nation, and marvel at the distance we still need to cover. I can say the same thing for myself in my life and my career.
As a gender, we have made strides toward parity in educational and professional opportunities. We have gained rights under the law and within social expectations. Some of us lucky ladies have even “chosen” to be married (or not) knowing that we are not tied in by circumstance, but rather a genuine love for our mate.
Personally, I have grown from a girl dependent on her parents, friends, and fate to form the future; into a strong and capable woman who is not only a leader in her community but a successful mother and role model. I note that I did not get here by accident. On this International Women’s Day I pay tribute to those strong women who entered into my life, however briefly, to help me become the person I am proud to be today.
It goes without saying that I have many qualities: strength, determination, work ethic and drive, inherited and modeled from my mother. Those traits I held on to as I met many other women who dared me to be better, stronger and more accomplished. To the woman who was like a mother to me during my first move away from home, Carolyn, who was not only a co-worker but a trusted confidant. A woman who taught me to be perceptive, discerning and astute. I salute you! To my first female boss for allowing me to see that not all playing fields are equal and that you cannot always believe what is told to you. Always live and work outside of the box to be better than you think you can be and do more than is expected. I recognize you! To the best business leader, motivator and all things Chamber to ever cross my path, Nancy. A woman who took me under her wing and schooled me in the concepts of professionalism, corporate networking, and business relationships – with a drive to be the best ALWAYS! I will never forget you! Lastly, to a small group of professional women that blessed me with their friendship (I hope you know who you are.) From you, I have learned the constant juggle of motherhood, community leader, and consummate career woman. Without you I could not have survived, let alone thrived, ending up where I am today. I love you!
I cannot thank these strong and confident women enough for their guidance and encouragement. My experiences have led to actions. Some may be BOLD, many may be minimal, all are from the heart. I know I impact my own daughter and challenge her to be strong, wise and bold. As she grows into an accomplished woman of her own, I see the enormity of my minimal acts and recognize the monumental impact. I have had the pleasure of being a mentor, coach, teacher, counselor, advisor and cheerleader for many women in my life and career, but none so important as my own daughter. Together she and I can be the “change makers.”
I know that so many changes and progressions still need to occur for our region, nation, and the world to rise to the point of parity for us all, but I think we can all begin to influence that within our own little sphere. Encouraging change with your own child, within your own neighborhood, throughout your own community will influence others to follow suit. If every one of us works together this day, and every other day, to be bold and make an impact, maybe we will see change. A lasting change that is one we can all be proud of. For today, I thank those that have helped me change and vow to continue to be there for those that need something from me.