Leadership

Ketanji Brown Jackson Makes History

Ketanji_Brown_JacksonHistory was made on April 7, 2022, when a bipartisan group of Senators confirmed Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. The momentous vote was presided over by Vice President Kamala Harris, our nation’s first Black female vice president, and witnessed by members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Black female lawmakers sat together along the walls, while young people filled the visitor galleries, all present to witness the event. Vice President Harris called for the final vote on Jackson’s nomination with a smile on her face, and the chamber broke into loud applause when she was confirmed.

Georgia Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock said before the vote that “Ketanji Brown Jackson’s improbable journey to the nation’s highest court is a reflection of our own journey through fits and starts toward the nation’s highest ideals.”

“She embodies the arc of our history,” he added. “She is America at its best. That I believe in my heart after meeting with her in my office, talking to folks who I trust who know her and hearing her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

It was a bumpy road to the Senate chamber for Judge Jackson, and much of the nation. Under intense scrutiny for four days, Republicans on the Judiciary Committee attacked her as a progressive activist who was soft on crime, glossing over her exemplary qualifications and experience, even asking her how she would define the word “woman.” President Biden denounced those behaviors saying Judge Jackson displayed “the incredible character and integrity she possesses.”

“To be sure I have worked hard to get to this point in my career, and I have now achieved something far beyond anything my grandparents could have possibly ever imagined, but no one does this on our own,” Judge Jackson said in her remarks on the White House South Lawn following her historic confirmation. “In the poetic words of Dr. Maya Angelou, ‘I do so now while bringing the gifts my ancestors gave. I am the dream and the hope of the slave.’”

Judge Jackson thanked the Democratic Senate leaders, numerous White House staff involved in her confirmation process, and the many people who helped her along the way. “As I take on this new role, I strongly believe that this is a moment in which all Americans can take great pride. We have come a long way toward perfecting our Union.”

“In my family it took just one generation to go from segregation to the Supreme Court of the United States of America. And it is an honor – the honor of a lifetime – for me to have this chance to join the court,” she added. “To promote the rule of law at the highest level, and to do my part to carry our shared project of democracy and equal justice under law forward into the future.”

Ketanji Brown JacksonJudge Jackson is the first Black woman to be nominated to the nation’s highest court in its 233-year history. Born in Washington, DC, she grew up in Miami, Florida. Her parents attended segregated primary schools, then attended historically black colleges and universities, and her father attended law school. Both started their careers as public school teachers and became leaders and administrators in the Miami-Dade Public School System. She testified at her confirmation hearing that one of her earliest memories was watching her father study law. “He had his stack of law books on the kitchen table while I sat across from him with my stack of coloring books.”

Judge Jackson stood out as a high achiever throughout her childhood, serving as “mayor” of her junior high, and student body president of her high school. As class president, Judge Jackson was quoted in the 1988 Miami Palmetto Senior High School yearbook as saying, “I want to go into law and eventually have a judicial appointment.”

However, when she told her high school guidance counselor she wanted to attend Harvard, she was warned not to set her “sights so high.” She remained focused and in fact, she not only made her way to Harvard, she graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, then attended Harvard Law School, where she graduated cum laude and was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Today, Judge Jackson lives with her husband Patrick – who she married in 1996 – and their two daughters, in Washington, DC.

Prior to her confirmation to the Supreme Court, Judge Jackson clerked for the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts, the United States Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit and for Justice Breyer. She worked in private practice before joining the U.S. Sentencing Commission in 2003. Then she became a federal public defender in 2005 before her confirmation as a U.S. district court judge in 2007. Just last year, the Senate confirmed Jackson 53-44 to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Judge Jackson has set the bar – no pun intended – and is serving as an example to young girls around the world. You have to see it to be it, and she’s “being” it with grace, dignity, and deserving qualifications galore. New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker summed it up best when he said to Judge Jackson during her confirmation hearing, “You deserve to be here, at this place, at this time, and you have made us all so proud…”

Women’s Leadership Challenge Creates Transformative Change

Samantha Karlin Samantha Karlin’s passion to help women become phenomenal leaders drove her to develop the Women’s Leadership Challenge to give women the tools to create transformative change. Samantha is an entrepreneur at heart and excels when it comes to finding a need and meeting it with results-driven solutions. As the host of Samanthropolitics and CEO of Empower Global, she has built a career around analyzing women’s needs and consistently meeting them with whatever it takes, whether it be for information or inspiration–providing training on everything from inclusive and feminist leadership to diversity and inclusion.

During the height of the initial COVID wave, Samantha took time to really look around and listen. Paying attention to the isolation people were feeling and how many were struggling, she realized there was a need among women for meaningful connections and community. At the same time, she saw that women’s progress toward leadership was going backwards; a trend that continues today. She also realized the only solution that can reverse that is more women leaders.

“I believe we need women leaders who don’t reinforce the patriarchy, women leaders who lead in innovative, creative, courageous ways that are true to who they are.” Samantha said, “It’s not just about having more women leaders; it’s having women leaders who are committed to change. It takes women at the top who are not afraid to speak out.”

Through her company, Empower Global, Samantha created and launched the Women’s Leadership Challenge to call out to women around the world who have similar commitments and need help to lead in ways to create transformational change. The Women’s Leadership Challenge gives participants the skills practiced by the great feminist leaders of today – Jacinda Ardern, Christine LaGarde, Stacey Abrams, and Angela Merkel among others. It also equips them with the tools they need to counter imposter syndrome and self-doubt and discover what is most unique about them as a leader. Each session also explores gender-specific challenges and delivers strategies to help women navigate them and change the system. Overall, participants gain the courage to advocate for themselves and others, learn to speak truth to power, utilize their strengths, and become agents for change.

“When women graduate from the program, they absolutely and truly believe in themselves as leaders and have crafted their leadership mission and vision,” Samantha said. “They are committed to creating workplaces where women and marginalized voices are able to rise, while supercharging their own career growth simultaneously. They are ready to lead, to move forward, and to be vocal.”

Each Challenge class, or cohort, is limited to just 8-10 participants, some virtual – generally international – and some in person, limited so far to the Washington, DC area. Samantha usually has one of each going at the same time, and while she has generally done four per year, this year may result in five or six due to increased demand. The Challenge consists of 14 sessions covering everything from “Deconstructing Your Inner Patriarchy” to “Speaking Truth to Power” and “Building Your Own Damn Table.” There is also a bonus session for final presentations. Samantha routinely brings in speakers during the sessions – social entrepreneurs like Rachel Kiddell-Monroe, founder and executive director of See Change Initiative; and Hasina Kharbhih – who’s Impulse NGO was selected as one of the top three models in the world for its innovative development and practice, and has transformed the way Southeast Asia confronts human trafficking; women in Senior Executive Service positions in government like Jennifer Miller, acting Assistant Secretary of the Airforce; heads of DEI like Dr. Naomi Mercer, Senior Vice President, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the American Bankers Association; and entrepreneurs like Tory Graf, CEO of Trillium Creative Solutions.

“I really like to have people across borders. You gain perspective on the lives of women far different than yours, from other countries, industries, races, and religions, increasing your ability to lead diverse teams,” Samantha said. “By taking this course, women join a global community of women leaders who will encourage them, support them, and supercharge their growth.”

The Empower Network

The Challenge does not end for participants once they complete the curriculum, graduates transition to The Empower Network where they can continue networking, connecting in referral circles, a soon-so-be launched women’s leadership mastermind, and even virtual and in-person parties. While women have had the time to bond with others in their own cohort, once they reach The Network, they are also intentionally paired with other members of the Empower community for one-on-one networking meetings based on what they want to achieve in their lives. These meetings expand their world views, foster collaboration opportunities. While the program is still young, Samantha envisions growth and partnerships throughout multiple cohorts happening as a result.

Samantha described the course as intensive with amazing results. She said, “Women are getting salary raises, promotions, winning leadership awards, becoming CEOs, starting their own businesses, shifting policy. I’ve seen so many amazing results from the women who go through this program.”

For example, Samantha is especially proud of one Challenge graduate who is putting together a humanitarian action network to change the humanitarian aid industry to be more human focused and gender equitable. The graduate has put together a task force of women from across the different cohorts who are all in the humanitarian aid space.

“Another woman was doing work with indigenous communities, and I had a feeling about two other women who would be interested so I matched them all at different times,” Samantha added. “Now they are all working together on a sustainable finance initiative for indigenous communities.”

Samantha plans to continue to grow the Challenge, do more with her alumni community, and expand the program further with additional trainers focused on specific geographic regions. She is also in discussion with several corporate clients about bringing the Challenge to their workplace and is working to secure additional fiscal sponsorships so she can continue to offer partial scholarships. If your company would be interested in sponsoring the program and reserving a few spots for female leaders and rising stars, reach out to info@empowerglobal.net for sponsorship options.

Cohorts are forming now. To learn more about The Women’s Leadership Challenge or to register for an upcoming cohort, go to WomensLeadershipChallenge.com.

 

“Why Not” Is a Movement and a Mission

Why_Not_IncubatorJacqueline L. Sanderlin, Ed.D., is an inspiring international speaker and visionary leader whose “Why Not” attitude has led to dramatic improvements in some of Southern California’s most under-resourced schools. Dr. Jackie has served over 30 years as a special education teacher, curriculum specialist, assistant principal, principal, after-school administrator, program coordinator, district administrator and executive director of school and community engagement. She is currently the U.S. Board Chairman for WE Charity, blogs for Scholastic magazine, serves as an Executive Board Member for the Goldie Hawn Foundation – MindUp, and is a steering committee member for the Social Emotional Learning Alliance for California. Having developed meaningful community partnerships between 350+ corporations, local businesses, and underserved schools, she appeared as a guest on The Ellen Show, which positioned her for the consulting producer role of the NBC reality show, School Pride.

In a time of vitriol and division, Dr. Jackie has been outspoken about her “Why Not?” message, which is to build community, unity, equity, and partnerships. She currently serves as K-12 National Education Leadership Executive Manager at Apple, Inc., and is founder and CEO of the “Why Not?” Incubator, a nonprofit organization designed to provide leadership coaching to executives, educational leaders and teams. Dr. Jackie offers virtual and in-person interactive sessions on building and sustaining community partnerships, school community wellness, empowering student youth, race and equity, and how to support teachers and students in an online setting.

Here is what “Why Not” means to Dr. Jackie, in her own words:

For me, “Why Not” is more like a movement AND a mission. I am on a mission. I want to empower all youth to use their voices to open doors, create opportunities and invent possibilities. As an educator in very challenging school districts, I have learned about the power of asking the “Why Not?” question.

My schools lacked the resources other schools had in different zip codes and it was my goal to ensure they had the best afforded to them. That is what they deserved. I was never looking for a hand out, rather than a hand up! I wanted to empower my scholars and teachers to think bigger and broader. We did this with the help of community partnerships. We also learned the power of community.

When we began to invite others to the table to help us co-create, dream possibilities and reimagine what could be, we were able to bring music, theatre, dance and photography to our school with the help of community partners. One partner gave each scholar a bicycle to help us focus on the importance of play and health. This is something we could not do, but because of the partnership we were able to give a gift to each scholar for Christmas! After that, we developed a wellness team that included more community partners, stakeholders and local politicians.

Now, I provide workshops to educators called, Building Bridges, to help them identify ways to engage their community and empower their scholars. I wrote my book, The “Why Not?” Challenge: Say Yes to Success with School-Community Partnerships, to provide action steps for schools to engage their community partners in a real way.

The three key actions to my work are:

1.) Dream possibilities

2.) Embrace your community

3.) Find your hook (cause).

Our schools are the hub of all communities and can be a catalyst for college and career pathways. More than that, when we allow others to co-create with us, it broadens our perspectives, which helps us to provide a platform for success for our scholars! Everyone benefits–from the neighbors who own property in the communities where the schools are located to the companies that employ the talent being developed in our schools. We owe it to the next generation to give them this foundation of learning and understand that they matter and we depend on them to be all they can be.

Are You Ready for Smart, Amazing Conversations?

podcastIf you are you ready to advance to the next level, you need Smart, Amazing Conversations with Dr. Nancy, a podcast that looks closely at stories of life and leadership, for smart, amazing women (and men) like you. Every person has their own special and unique story that can help empower other women. In fact, Dr. Nancy realizes how much power we have in sharing our stories. They connect us and help us understand one another, which is why she shares her passion and purpose through her podcast.

Every two weeks, Dr. Nancy hosts fascinating women and men who write books,  or have developed programs to help others, either by overcoming turmoil in their own lives, or discovering ways to be resilient and succeed at their chosen path. Many are nationally recognizable figures (or internationally, like Sarah, Duchess of York). Among them are bestselling authors, social justice activists, diversity and inclusion leaders, gender equality advocates, and humanitarians whose words of wisdom spark inspiration, ah-ha moments of realization, and further understanding through their insightful points of view.

Dr. Nancy chooses every single guest for their important contribution based on their unique point of view. From friends of the show Dr. Sheila Robinson and Gloria Feldt and thought leaders like Tiffany Schlain and Pat Mitchell to our first male guest Ed Martin, or our first video guest Elissa Fisher Harris – each is chosen based on their work and contributions to expand the conversation of how we can all become a positive force that impacts the greater good. (If you are or know someone who meets that criteria, email us here.)

PodcastSmart Amazing Conversations with Dr. Nancy is not a new podcast. Dr. Nancy was an early adopter and a pioneer in her field when she launched it over 10 years ago. She originally spearheaded topics like the invisibility felt by women as they age, media hype that steers women into thinking they have to stay young and beautiful to have value to society, and the struggles women face as they try to ascend the career ladder into leadership. Those conversations continue today, and with hundreds of episodes featuring so many fascinating guests under her belt, she also examines ways to overcome the cultural obstacles that attempt to block women from becoming leaders throughout our communities and businesses. While many other podcasts, books and blogs cover these same topics, Dr. Nancy’s conversations are both smart and amazing because of the guests they feature and the relaxed spontaneous tone of the interviews. They truly are conversational, making the listeners (and now viewers) feel like they are part of the conversation.

There cannot be enough voices on behalf of women and girls. We need all the podcasts, blogs and books—every one of them. In fact, it is key to the mission of Dr. Nancy’s foundation, Women Connect4Good, women supporting other women (and men), because it is going to take all of us working together for everyone to have a fair and equal share of the opportunities for leadership and benefits of living and working in our world today.

Dr. Nancy is as excited about meeting her guests and sharing their stories now as the day she began doing them under the “WomenSpeak” banner. Her experience and solid belief that we always find a connection when we hear each other’s stories make each podcast an individual journey into some aspect of a smart amazing person’s life.

That’s why we invite you to check out Smart, Amazing Conversations with Dr. Nancy not only on our website, but on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts, or watch on YouTube and to like, subscribe, and share with your friends!

 

Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge Grows Women Leaders

Katie Steele Danner is the Executive Director of the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, and as a graduate alumnus of the third class of the Leadership Challenge, she has personally experienced how the statewide program grows women leaders in many careers throughout the state. Now in its 32nd year, the Challenge has grown 1,300 alumni that have spread their wings internationally. Katie describes it as a traveling symposium with a class of 30-40 women who meet for a dozen days in four, three-day sessions. Each session does a deep dive into a specific community’s issues, often discovering problems needing solutions in that area are relative to the entire state and intersect with what is happening nationally and globally. It focuses on emerging women leaders, educating them about the state of Missouri and helping them realize where their strengths and leadership can make a difference. Katie says that the Foundation hopes their eyes are open to possibility, not only to their own careers, but also how they can be more engaged in their communities.

In Katie’s case, she was a young Missouri State Representative when she accepted the challenge. While still in her 20’s she ran for office, thinking that she could do a better job than the three men running in her district, and she won. She went on to serve three terms and says that she, “had the opportunity to get to know the state of Missouri in a way that without that experience, I never would have learned the vast diversity of opportunities, and frankly, the challenges of the state of Missouri.”  However, her experience with the Challenge and the Foundation has introduced her to a vast array of expertise among the women in Missouri, including the woman engineer who runs the Callaway nuclear power plant, who is a Challenge alumnus. She says that the networking is phenomenal when you think about over a thousand women leaders now serving on boards and in leadership positions where their voices are heard, literally around the world. Katie says, “We have many women that are working with large corporate firms that are currently based in Brazil, Germany or England, etc.”

How to Apply for The Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge

There are two ways to become an applicant: an alum can refer you, or you can nominate yourself. The referral would introduce the applicant, list her strengths and what she is doing personally and professionally, and describe her as an emerging woman leader who would be successful in the program. To self-nominate, an applicant would say something like, “I’m really interested in learning more about the state of Missouri.” Then list her strengths and describe why she thinks of herself as an emerging leader, and how the Challenge would help her hone her leadership skills and grow her leadership into new areas of potential.

Katie says that the awards luncheon event that Dr. Nancy and Women Connect4Good helped sponsor in Springfield, Missouri, this year resulted in a number of women self-nominating from throughout Southwest Missouri. “And that helps us because we want diverse women, not only diverse industries, diverse experience, but diverse in geography and obviously diversity across the entire spectrum.” She encourages anyone interested to apply on their website at GreaterMo.org, and she will follow up with them.

More Benefits of the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge

Katie says that she is amazed at the number of industries she has learned about through her years of being an alum of the Challenge. And she encourages others to step up, because even if you feel you don’t know enough, there are women to help you along the way. That’s the purpose of the Challenge – to empower each other to lead. She tells the story of a young Challenge alum named Fatima who immigrated from Bosnia as a five-year-old with her parents and is now a US citizen. St. Louis, Missouri, is the largest resettlement area for Bosnian refugees, a fact Katie also wasn’t aware of until she worked with Fatima and others volunteering for the International Institute helping resettle the Afghanistan refugees in St. Louis. Fatima’s personal story as a Muslim child in a Christian sponsoring family helped with understanding the refugees in the current crisis. Fatima’s job is managing staffing for the mayor pro tem of Kansas City where she uses her experience to talk about homelessness and how partnerships with corporate America work to help fill hunger needs in rural Missouri.

Listen or watch this interview to learn more about how Katie sees the fluctuation to more remote work can benefit women and provide opportunities for women to lead in their communities where they are needed most. Stay in touch with their activities and events on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter. And go the website for more information about the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, a fascinating organization growing more women leaders in Missouri every year.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Diversity Woman Media is Empowering Women to Lead!

Diversity_WomanIf there’s one thing that Dr. Sheila Robinson believes, it’s that every woman is a leader–EVERY woman. We lead in our families, with our children, and in our communities. Women also lead in the workplace, and now more than ever we need to empower them to do just that, and give them the tools and support they need to step up and redefine corporate America. That’s why she chose “Empowered to Lead” as the theme for this year’s national 16th annual Diversity Woman Media Business Leadership Conference.

Sheila founded Diversity Woman Media and currently serves as its publisher and CEO. Diversity Woman is nationally recognized as a leading multi- platform enterprise with program offerings that advance all dimensions of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Through publishing two magazines, and producing regular Leadership Development Academy workshops and national conferences, the organization’s businesswomen’s network and membership directory provide a forum for established and aspiring women in leadership roles, including mobility of all women and marginalized professionals. They work to empower women as leaders to help them achieve their career goals through real-world experiences with sage advice, information, and mentorship.

Diversity Woman’s flagship event, the annual Business Leadership Conference, is around the corner (November 4-5), and this year’s theme personifies the organization’s focus. The opening keynote from Tara Jaye Frank – “Making a Way” – will recognize how difficult the past months have been (and still are) for many women in the workplace, and will guide participants through “what leaders of the future must believe, know, and do differently to unleash their own power while unlocking the potential of every ONE.”

Sheila_RobinsonTara’s compelling keynote will kick off two action packed days where attendees will be front and center to experience powerful speakers, a fireside chat with Sheila and Ruchika Tulshyan, panel discussions, peer discussion roundtables, breakout sessions, executive coaching, and the conveyance of the organization’s Mosaic Awards to Subha Barry, CEO of Seramount; Lorraine Hariton, President & CEO of Catalyst; Carla Harris, Vice Chairman, Managing Director and Senior Client Advisor with Morgan Stanley; and our very own Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Founder and President of Women Connect4Good, Inc.

Once again, Diversity Woman Media’s Business Leadership Conference is attracting women business leaders of all races, cultures and backgrounds from the world’s largest corporations and entrepreneurs from successful women-owned businesses. Following last year’s event, with continued commitment to the safety of community and staff, the event will also be virtual, and promises to deliver the same innovative opportunities for engagement and networking experience with a similar outcome attendees are accustomed to experiencing in-person.

To learn more about the event, and the participating speakers and coaches, or to reserve your spot, go to the Diversity Woman website today!

 

Gloria Feldt’s Intentioning and How Women Will Take The Lead

IntentioningIn 2010 Gloria Feldt, author, and cofounder and president of Take The Lead, redefined the way women look at power in No Excuses – Nine Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, by putting it into a historical context and showing the ways in which women have made huge leaps forward in the past, only to pull back right when they were at the threshold. Gloria argued that there’s no excuse for women today not to own their power, whether it’s the way women are socialized, or pressured to conform, or work/life balance issues. Women are still facing unequal pay, being passed over for promotions, entering public office at a much lower rate than men, and often still struggle with traditional power dynamics in their interpersonal relationships. Gloria’s solution to all these places where women face inequality is the same: we must shift the way we think about power to achieve true parity with our male counterparts.

The 9 Leadership Power Tools (chapters) outlined in No Excuses serve as a guide for women from every walk of life and have helped them “change the way they think, and therefore the way they act.” Gloria’s power tools are rooted in a sophisticated concept of power. Women redefine it so they can embrace it with intention and use it effectively. This shift from the outdated, oppressive “power over” to the expansive, positive, and innovative “power to” cracks the code that has held women back from leadership parity. For more than a decade the 9 Power Tools have given countless women immediate, usable ways to navigate the world as it is while changing aspects of their world that keep them from advancing.

Fast forward 11 years, and one catastrophic pandemic later, and Gloria is once again sharing her experiences and inspiring women to embrace their personal power to lead with intention, confidence, and joy. In her latest book, Intentioning: Sex, Power, Pandemics, and How Women Will Take The Lead for (Everyone’s) GoodGloria not only unveils the next step in advancing gender parity in all spheres of business and life, she also lays out the vital next steps in the overall advancement of our economy and our civilization.

Gloria’s latest book is not written with the pandemic as a side note or brief historical fact, but instead looks at how recent events have revealed deep fault lines in our culture and the systemic inequities that have always held women back. It comes as no surprise to her that women flexed their formidable muscles when needed most, representing a disproportionate number of essential workers during the darkest days of the coronavirus global outbreak and leading the charge against racism in the U.S. That being said, this book is decidedly about the future, taking the leadership lessons learned from this disruption and creating a better world for all through the power of intention.

In addition to preparing women to lead change, be change, and sustain change, improve their impact, turn obstacles into assets, apply their power to energies, using their ambition as fuel to achieve their intentions, Intentioning also shares the stories of “Intentional Women” (including Dr. Nancy O’Reilly) teaching readers 9 Leadership Intentioning Tools, with tips for implementing them and practice exercises for each.

Through the lens of women’s stories, Intentioning delivers a fresh set of leadership tools, skills, and concepts that help all women reach their own highest intentions. Gloria purposefully creates new norms, while guiding institutions to break through the remaining barriers to gender and racial parity for everyone’s good. It’s a must-read for every woman who is ready to reach for more and help move women’s progress forward in the workplace and in the world. Learn more at www.intentioningbook.com.

 

Greater Missouri Celebrating Women Leaders

On Wednesday, July 21, women leaders from across the state of Missouri came together to celebrate women at the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge’s Women of the Year Awards. The in-person/virtual event is the highlight of the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation’s annual calendar, and a way for those connected to the organization and the community at large to celebrate women leaders and honor outstanding Greater Missouri Women. The Greater Missouri Woman of the Year Award recognizes a prominent female in Missouri who exemplifies the definition of the Greater Missouri Woman who is, “recognized as accomplished in her field.” This extraordinary professional woman has reached a level of success, which is demonstrated by her leadership, civic contributions and ability to inspire and support others.

For 32 years, the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation has trained and championed well over a thousand women, providing them with increased leadership, civic, and educational opportunities, becoming the premier leadership experience for exceptional women across the state, with a long and established track record of support.

This year’s honorees include Susan Block, lawyer and former circuit judge, who was named 2021 Community Leader of the Year; Dr. Kimberly Beatty, Chancellor, Metropolitan Community College, named 2021 Inspirational Leader of the Year; Anne Precythe, Director, Missouri Department of Corrections, named 2021 Civic Leader of the Year; and Suzanne Rothwell, Vice President of the Advancement Division, Columbia College, who was named 2021 Alumna Leader of the Year.

“Women’s Leadership is what is called for at this moment in America. As all of our honorees know, leadership is increasingly complicated and challenging. It requires both head and heart, compassion and creativity, skill and perseverance,” Executive Director Katie Steele Danner said during the event’s welcome. “Leaders are called upon to teach, consult, and coach those on the front-lines of the private and public sector – to strengthen their competencies and enhance their skills to adapt to a wide spectrum of scenarios. Including the challenges presented by a world-wide pandemic. Kudos to these women we honor today – in fact to all of you joining us today – for your perseverance in navigating these unprecedented times.”

Through their Leadership Challenge, the Foundation welcomes a limited number of outstanding women leaders into their program This select group of women leaders, chosen by the organization’s board of directors, reflect a balance of ethnic, cultural, geographic, career and philanthropic experiences and represent a diverse cross-section of women from Missouri and its contiguous states. The participants meet for four, three-day sessions combining continuing education in leadership development, information and major discussion of state policy issues, and exposure to the philosophies and thoughts of the state’s business, cultural, educational and political leaders. With the wealth of talented women in the state, Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge provides an enriching experience for both the participants and the state and provides new channels of communication to broaden the participation of women in addressing the critical issues facing Missouri.

The Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge’s theory of change is focused on four main assumptions:

  • The presence of women in leadership positions has a predictive effect on next-generation leadership among women.
  • Women with expansive social networks are more likely to experience career advancement.
  • Diversity in the workplace leads to increased creativity, problem solving, and profitability.
  • Mentoring in the workplace leads to a wide range of favorable career outcomes.

As Dr. Nancy stated during her welcome remarks, “These assumptions matter, and are the basis of the work that we do through Women Connect4Good. Today, we are all perfectly positioned to become leaders in the communities we call home, in the workplace, and in the world.”

By working together, we can help one another step into our power, increase our impact, and build an environment where every person is valued, respected, and equally compensated. As many noted during the celebratory event, we achieve more influence and create greater change when we act together.

To find out more about the Greater Missouri Leadership Foundation, or to apply for their 2022 Challenge Class, go to https://greatermo.org.

When Our Stories Are Banned

Banned_BooksBooks are a form of political action. Books are knowledge. Books are reflection. Books change your mind. – Toni Morrison

Books tell our stories. And when our stories are banned, our truths are hidden from one another and our ability to understand each other’s life experiences and perspectives is blocked. It is a violation of the foundation of a free society, our first amendment, freedom of speech. Yet every year, new books are banned and challenged in schools and libraries around the world. In fact, the American Library Association’s Office of Intellectual Freedom tracked 156 challenges to books, materials, and services in 2020 alone. While some of banned titles have been on various lists for years, like To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Toni Morrison’s Beloved or Maya Angelou’s I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, many others are routinely challenged. The majority of censured or banned books are generally children’s books and fiction books. However, no list of banned or challenged books would be complete without a smattering of nonfiction titles, usually contested due to themes of political ideology, racial inequalities, and high school appropriateness.

The American Library Association’s “Freedom to Read Statement” points out that a number of private groups and public authorities throughout the country continuously attack our freedom to read by working to remove or limit access to reading materials. The actions are not singular, but by censoring content in schools, labeling controversial views, distributing lists of books they deem objectionable, and purging libraries, they give rise to a view that, “our national tradition of free expression is no longer valid; that censorship and suppression are needed to counter threats to safety or national security, as well as to avoid the subversion of politics and the corruption of morals.”

Just as our political and community landscapes have changed, the reasons for challenging titles has shifted too. In the early 90’s it was often titles with “objectionable” language and sexual content that topped the lists. However, James LaRue, director of the ALA’s Office for Intellectual Freedom was quoted in TIME Magazine as saying that there’s been a shift toward seeking to ban books “focused on issues of diversity—things that are by or about people of color, or LGBT, or disabilities, or religious and cultural minorities.”

A phenomenal book was recently brought to our attention, and recent actions have shown that some believe it falls in the “controversial” category, Vanguard – How Black Women Broke Barriers, Won the Vote, and Insisted on Equality for All. The author Martha S. Jones, a historian at Johns Hopkins University, wrote in The Washington Post that the Lafayette Parish library board rejected a previously offered grant and refused to host a discussion on voting rights that included her book. Jones wrote, “What precisely troubled the board?  Vanguard foregrounds the Black women who, for 200-plus years, struggled to expand access to political rights for all. It argues that they are among the architects of American democracy.”

First of all, Vanguard isn’t stirring up controversy, it is a thoroughly researched and critically acclaimed retelling of the history of suffrage in America, and truly a must-read. It is a look at the vibrant history and struggle of the women who have come before us and paved the way for all women to move forward. Winner of the 2020 L.A. Times Book Prize for History, Vanguard is an “examination of the racism and sexism Black women endured in their pursuit of political participation and power. It also closely examines how Black women used that power to secure equality and representation for others, arguing that Black women have been wrongfully overlooked as forebears of democratic ideals in America.”

Jones offers readers a slice of history we may not (yet) be familiar with and introduces us to a number of formidable women. She shares their stories, their struggles and their wins, and helps reshape our perceptions in the process. Ibram X. Kendi says that “all Americans would be better off learning this history” and I couldn’t agree more. We don’t need to limit access to her book or discussions of topics some may find uncomfortable or “objectionable.” We need to make sure all of our stories – and the stories of those who came before us – are told.

The books that take us out of our own experience, those that educate, engage, and inspire us are often targeted and will probably continue to be banned in pockets of our country. Thankfully, in a majority of the cases, those books are still available thanks to librarians, teachers, students, community members, and the women and men that still demand access to the stories that shape us as a people, a nation, and a world. But we must all continue to speak up and demand it because as Jones says in her article, “People forget that history is not merely a recounting of past events but also a battle over who writes it, from which perspective and what those stories teach about who we are as a nation.”

9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career

Take_The_LeadImagine your ideal leadership role where you – and the you who you’ve always known you were meant to be – can fully thrive – using a combination of only nine tools. Well, imagine no more…Take The Lead’s 9 Leadership Power Tools to Advance Your Career [online course] is back!

Take The Lead prepares, develops, inspires and propels all women of all diversities and intersectionalities to take their fair and equal share of leadership positions across all sectors by 2025. The 9 Leadership Power Tools course teaches participants nine very specific, female-oriented tactics that allows you to find and channel your inner strength and power.

Gloria Feldt, author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power and cofounder and president of Take The Lead, says that the 9 Leadership Power Tools course is not your typical leadership program, but is “more introspective because I believe the best leaders know themselves well. They know their value in the workplace and their personal values. So they can embrace their power with authenticity, confidence, and joy. They also get the skills to thrive in the workplace culture as it is while changing it to be more inclusive and equitable.”

Participants can expect to gain proven, real-world, and actionable tools – and the accompanying mindset – to accomplish your goals and thrive in any profession, at any career level. You will also learn to break out of negative patterns in order to elevate your intentions. Then, hone the practical skills needed to be a highly successful leader, aligning your career and values, and leave behind the Imposter Syndrome and take the lead, boosting your confidence, authenticity, intentionality and joy.

“You will reframe power and embrace power you never realized you have,” Gloria says. “That in turn will release your energy to choose power over fear and identify exactly how you want to use it so you can lead and live without limits.”

The course includes 13 modules covering all 9 Leadership Power Tools and skill-building exercises, a Strategic Leadership Action plan that can be immediately implemented, access to the #SisterCourage Community, a private community of other ambitious and like-minded women, and a Leadership Certificate proving you have the skills, intention and courage to lead change.

If you enroll today you also get several bonuses including 10 follow up “Power Sheets” emailed to you monthly to support your inspiration and motivation to achieve your goals, the opportunity to go deeper into the power tools with the 9 Ways Power Journal based on the bestselling book by Gloria, No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think, full access to the Kajabi community where Gloria Feldt herself will answer your questions weekly, bonus downloads and videos to enrich your learning, and the opportunity for discounts on additional coaching.

Click HERE to learn more or to reserve your spot today.

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