Recently I listened to a NPR interview with a retiring correspondent and was struck by his observation that he would like to see more women in power around the world. As someone who, unintentionally at first, focused on advancing women’s leadership, I would love to hear your thoughts about women’s leadership and how we might open the way for more women change-makers.
As you’ll see below, this is a topic dear to my heart.
After a successful executive career, I became the fourth leader of the Institute for Career Advancement (ICAN) in Omaha, an organization founded to advance the careers of women and people of color. During my tenure, astronaut Mae Jemison, activist Gloria Steinem and journalist Lisa Ling were just a few of the notable women we featured at the organization’s annual women’s leadership conference. While serving at ICAN, I had the honor of introducing Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg at a by-invitation only event ICAN hosted with Union Pacific’s LEAD network. I also identified the need for and led the creation of ICAN’S Defining Leadership programs, single gender programs for women and men for mid-level managers.
Looking back, I’m pleased with the wise women and men we brought to expand the heads and hearts of current and future leaders. Meg Wheatley, one of the American Society of Training & Development’s Living Legends, presented twice. Futurist Jennifer James spoke to our Break-Through Thinking Series audience shortly after she had addressed some of the world’s wealthiest at a European conference. The Center for Strategic and International Studies shared the Seven Revolutions leaders in government, business and society needed to understand in order to begin to think, plan and act for a better future. Gail Evans, an early CNN exec and author of She Wins, You Wins spoke at our annual leadership conference on the fundamental principle of women advancing women. Carol Frohlinger, one of the authors of Her Place at the Table: A Woman’s Guide to Negotiating Five Key Challenges to Leadership Success spoke to ICAN participants just days after sharing the stage with Hillary Clinton.
After relocating to the Pacific Northwest, I worked with The Berkana Institute to host Women’s Leadership Revivals in New York City and St. Louis, Missouri featuring Meg Wheatley and author, voice teacher, and organizational consultant Barbara McAfee. At Catherine Place in Tacoma, I led the creation of the successful We-Can and Si, Se Puede Women’s Circles, leadership development circles for immigrant, refugee and low-income women that were featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. A bicycle lover, I organized the first team of women riders from Catherine Place to take part in Cycle the Wave in Bellevue, WA in 2013.
As a volunteer, I inspire support and funding for Maher in India, an organization led by Founder & Director Sr. Lucy Kurien and Maher Board Trust Chair Hirabegum Mulla. A Chicago leadership retreat I organized resulted in a Pilgrimage to Maher involving 17 women leaders and producing significant ongoing volunteer and financial support for Maher’s work with the battered and destitute in India. I have spent 10 ½ months with leaders in India on trips in 2006, 2010, 2016 & 2017.
I’m currently in retreat and writing Walking to the Light: A Woman’s Journey Home.