Speak Up

Who You ARE Makes a Difference

Founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide

Helise “Sparky” Bridges

Helice “Sparky” Bridges had it all – a big house on the Pacific Ocean, fancy cars, beautiful sons and an emotionally abusive husband – when she hit the wall. She fell to her knees and cried, “Stop the world I want to get off!” and a voice answered,” You can’t end your life because you are going to sing and dance and write.”Later on she also understood that she must also make a difference in the world. The fact that she couldn’t sing, had never danced a step or written much beyond a real estate contract didn’t stop her. She left home with a potted plant and some clothes and did those very things in spite of apparent shortcomings because of what she IS–outrageous.
Sparky realized that everyone just tries to be the best mom or dad or teacher, but what everyone really needs is to be recognized and loved, just like she did.  She created a symbolic hug in the Blue Ribbon ceremony in 1980, now called “Blue Ribbons Worldwide” with a goal of uniting humanity through the power of love and within three months 35,000 people were honored with it. Sparky’s goal is to reach one billion people by 2020. That’s one in seven people in the world, the mathematical tipping point for social change.

“Bing!” is the sound of making dreams come true.

With over 40 million people and counting, Blue Ribbons Worldwide is working hard on its goal to unite the world through the power of love. Sparky calls it the glue that’s missing from our lives. The blue ribbon she created says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference” and the ceremony requires seven steps, beginning with looking the person in the eye and honoring them for the qualities that make them special, asking permission to place the ribbon over their heart and for them to receive the honor, and finally “Bing!” to signify making their dreams come true. Each blue ribbon presented is followed by two more with a request for that person to pay it forward to two others.
Blue Ribbons
Sparky tells her own story and the inspiring stories of how the Blue Ribbon Ceremony made a difference in people’s lives in her book, Who I am Makes a Difference: The Power of Acknowledgement, Stories that Connect People Heart-to-Heart and Ignite the Human Spirit. One story on how the blue ribbon prevented a teen suicide is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. That is at the heart of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to end teen suicide, heal the world by helping one person at a time understand how much she/he matters. Today more than 40 million people have been honored with blue ribbons, but 2020 is only a couple of years away.


Sparky says that people need to have personal connections and not be in such a “doing” world, but in a “being” world, where we can see each other’s hearts and the beauty in people. She is inviting others  to join her in becoming sponsors of a new initiative to train 40,000 middle and high school students to discover who they are, why they were born and the difference they make. The students will be honoring each other, honoring their parents and writing stories about it to unite the community in supporting everyone else’s dreams. Besides reducing teen suicides, bullying and the other epidemics that are infecting our teens, Sparky says that it will elevate education in America by developing social and emotional literacy. Instead of concentrating our efforts on conflict resolution, the Blue Ribbon Ceremony will focus on elevating our relationships to a higher bond of respect and love. To learn more about Blue Ribbons Worldwide, contact Sparky directly at her e-mail: sparky@blueribbons.org.
Listen to this conversation for more inspiring stories and to hear the 7-step Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement Ceremony from Sparky to Dr. Nancy. Check out Sparky’s website and ways Blue Ribbons Worldwide is uniting the world through sharing love with 40 million people and counting.Find out how you can help make it One Billion by 2020 at Blue Ribbons Worldwide.

Your Voice Matters

Tabby Biddle
Celebrated writer, speaker and women’s leadership coach, Tabby Biddle is on a mission to help women realize that they own something more precious than they ever realized living in a male-dominated culture – a Feminine voice that needs to be heard. In the process of her own journey to make her voice heard, she discovered a little-known fact. According to June Cohen, TEDx Producer, only about 20 percent of the short-listed TEDx Talks that came to her for consideration on TED.com were by women. Worse than this, only 15 percent of the recommendations that came in for the main stage TED were women. That led June to ask  an important question, “Where are the women’s voices?”
Tabby’s response was to assemble as many women for TEDx and TED Talks as she possibly can. After delivering her own TEDx Talk at St. Marks, Tabby began a coaching workshop where she not only prepares women to take the TED stage, but helps them find a TED venue where they can be accepted and successfully use their voice.
If you’ve never thought you could be a TED speaker, think again. Speaking on the TED or TEDx stage can be the highlight of your career. As a female leader or an emerging leader, delivering a TED talk is an incredible vehicle for you to spread your message, build your brand and share what matters to you most. So what’s holding you back? If you’re not convinced that your message is really important, consider that according to the latest studies, when more women are leaders, communities and organizations are more productive, profitable, innovative and successful. When more women are leaders, we also change society’s view of what leaders look like, how they operate, and how they respond to social, economic and political needs.  When more women are leaders, we raise the aspirations of women and girls around the world.
You are important. Your brand of leadership is important. By stepping on the TED stage  and using your voice, you can potentially change, not only your own path, but the path of thousands of other women and girls. More women like you need to share their stories and change the cultural conversation. It’s time to shed the fear and self-doubt and accept the responsibility to make your voice heard.
Tabby urges women to make the dream of speaking on the TED or TEDx stage a reality. She provides the practical support and guidance necessary to take your rightful place on the stage and step into your legacy as a change-making feminine leader. The next course takes place in January, 2018. Early registration is October 1. You can participate from any location in the world. Now is the time to share your idea and story. Imagine transforming your life by sharing your message with thousands of other people and making the impact you’ve always dreamed of making. October 1 is fast approaching. Share your story and become the feminine leader you are destined to be. Your voice matters more now than ever before.  Click here to find out more about how to touch the lives of the people who are waiting for you, and become the thought leader that you know you are meant to be.

Amplify Women’s Voices Around the World

Lauren Anderson

Lauren Anderson

International Geopolitical Consultant Lauren Anderson is excited about the huge world-wide momentum that’s building of women reaching out to help one another across the boundaries of professions and countries  in the many organizations where she serves. Driven by the need to be of service to others and the benefits of justice and equality in our world, Lauren has journeyed through a 29-year distinguished career as an FBI executive, both in high-risk domestic and foreign service, overseeing anti-terrorism and FBI relations with 24 different countries to present-day global efforts on many fronts to empower and help women and girls become leaders in their chosen professions. Lauren serves on  numerous boards and in many capacities, including service as a public speaker and expert with the Women’s Media Center , as Global Ambassador with Vital Voices, Leadership Ambassador with Take the Lead, and  more.
While in the FBI, she saw an enormous amount of talent not being used. In fact, cultures in many countries actually held women back from contributing their skills and talents. While she saw the limitations, she couldn’t dream of all the possibilities. When she became a fellow with the International Women’s Forum, she says it exploded her world open. For the first time, she was in an environment with women from all sectors and many nations from around the world. She saw expertise, knowledge and sharing that could go beyond what she had considered with her background in law enforcement, intelligence and diplomacy.

Vital Voices Partners with Leading Women to Make Their Vision A Reality.

Founded in 1991 by Hillary Clinton and others, Vital Voices is made up of powerful bi-partisan women. Lauren says that Vital Voices identifies and works with women leaders around the world. They started where women had no capacity, in the Middle East, Africa and south Asia, regardless of their sector. Their programs range from something as basic as how to write a business plan to the global ambassador program that Lauren is part of. They select women who are at a tipping point in their profession and pair them with another successful woman. She says that the beauty of Vital Voices is they cross sectors and match people with their skill sets. For example, she currently is coaching a Somali obstetrician-gynecologist, a Filipino businesswoman and a woman in Beirut who makes cookies, though her own sector is much different.

Red Dot Foundation-Safe City Identifies Hot Spots to Protect Women.

Lauren was just asked to be the board chair for Safe City in India. The program was started by Elsa DeSilva after the horrific rape, torture and ultimate death of the young Indian doctor in 2012. Compelled to do something about the violence and sexual harassment in the streets that women go through, she and a couple of friends created the The Red Dot Foundation–Safe City. Lauren says that when it was formed, it was the only crowd-sourced and crowd-funded platform where women could share their stories. Now, Safe City has collected 50,000 separate stories of women who have experienced everything from sexual harassment to rape. The analytics this collection is providing has helped the police identify hot spots within 4 cities in India where they can increase coverage to protect women.
The Safe City model is so successful that it has expanded into Kenya, Nepal, Trinidad,  Nigeria, Cameroon, and others are set up to come on board in the future.  The United States is also looking at ways this model can be used in work environments and on college campuses.

Taking Take the Lead to Global Ambassadorship

Now Lauren and Gloria Feldt are looking into taking Take the Lead’s Leadership Ambassador program world-wide. The Leadership Ambassador  program  applies Gloria’s “9 Power Tools” to help women transform their relationship with power so they can use it to accomplish their intentional goals. They partnered with the Leadership Foundation Fellows of the International Women’s Forum and delivered a partial version of “The 9 Power Tools” to a group of women from around the world. The Leadership Ambassador program expands  beyond Take the Lead, as each Ambassador teaches entire new groups of women, so the message and the method grow exponentially.
Listen to this interview to learn about more collaborative programs where women are reaching out to help other women around the world. Check out the links of the programs that offer these opportunities for more details about how you can become involved in the movement of women reaching out to help other women around the world, and visit Lauren on Linked-In, Twitter and Facebook.

Speak Out | Use Your Feminine Voice

Women's Advocate and Author

Tabby Biddle

Tabby Biddle is a passionate best-selling author, a celebrated women’s leadership coach, and women’s rights advocate whose mission is “to help women awaken to the Feminine within themselves. Honor it. Remember their  wisdom. And put it forward into the world through speaking, teaching, writing and leadership.” She arrived at this mission after growing up in a patriarchal world, and as the only girl in the family, she felt she had to adopt the masculine model to get her voice heard. Many years and chapters later, her journey lead her to California where she discovered the Feminine and knew she had to do her part to amplify feminine voices to bring awareness about the human rights abuses that were happening around the world and silencing the voices of women and girls.
Tabby Biddle Book Find Your VoiceIn this interview, Tabby says that women must tell our stories and become leaders in the world so that we can come into a place of balance between the feminine and masculine, and bring about peace. We must not see war as the solution, but compassion, diplomacy and empathy as our ways toward the future. Her best-selling book, Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action, acknowledges that women often suppress their ideas and their presence in the world. Tabby reaches out with her personal message to women to help them discover their feminine voice and inspire and show them how to pursue their calling.

50 Women Can Change the World

Tabby serves as one of Take the Lead Women’s Leadership Ambassadors working toward the foundation’s mission to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women to take their fair and equal share of leadership by 2025. Along with two other Leadership Ambassadors in California, Tabby’s current initiative is “50 Women Can Change the World,” aimed at the entertainment industry, which is staffed by 90% men. So naturally the stories are told through the male lens.
The program is set to launch in California in January 2018 with the intention of bringing both the studio executive and creative sides together (the female directors, producers, writers, cinematographers, editors) with the greater intention of building a collaboration between the creative and the executive, because both sides must work together. Women in the film industry have to bring along their male allies as time moves on, because we can’t do this alone.

Step up to the TED or TEDx Stage

Tabby teaches an on-line course, “Women on the TEDx Stage.” She says that women represent only 20% of the TEDx speakers and only 15% of the TED speakers. With so few women speaking, there is little in the way of feminine perspective shaping the conversation both in how we see ourselves as women and our place in society. Tabby’s course helps women clean out the cobwebs that inhibit women—the individual and the collective—and supports them through the whole process from telling their story, relating the story to the idea they’re presenting, mastering the delivery and matching them up with the right TED-x event.
Tabby Biddle TEDx
Check out Tabby’s website for more about her courses, her blogging and her compelling personal story. Find out more about how important she says it is to find the courage to tell your story and your responsibility to your sisterhood of women and to yourself.  Listen to this conversation for more from Dr. Nancy about how she has learned from her daughters and more of Tabby’s insight into how women are adding to the conversation.

The Value of Job Depends on Who Is Doing It

equality for men and womenLast Tuesday marked Equal Pay Day, a symbolic day for advocates in the U.S. to show support for women in the workforce, and draw attention to the gender pay gap. This year’s observance, on April 4, represents how far into the year women must work in order to earn what men earned the year before. And according to the National Committee on Pay Equity, Equal Pay Day also usually falls on a Tuesday, demonstrating how far into the next workweek women have to work to earn what men earned the week before.
According to the Institute of Women’s Policy (IWPR), women are on pace to reach pay parity in 2059, which is 93 years after the Equal Pay Act was passed in 1963, and which made gender-based pay discrimination illegal. For women of color, the rate of change is even slower: Hispanic women will have to wait until 2248 and Black women will wait until 2124 for equal pay. Today, the gender pay gap for full time, year-round work remains around 20%, and it hasn’t moved in over a decade. The good news is the conversations to close the gap (and abide by the law) are actually happening throughout organizations, which bodes well for changing the tide.
A number of studies have recently proven that the gap can no longer be dismissed with simple observations that women outnumber men in lower paying jobs like teaching and social work. In fact, Claire Cain Miller recently wrote in The New York Times that it may come down to this troubling reality – work done by women simply isn’t valued as highly as work done by men.
A new study from researchers at Cornell University found that the difference between the occupations and industries in which men and women work has recently become the single largest cause of the gender pay gap, accounting for more than half of it. Another study takes that even further and shows that when women enter fields in greater numbers, pay declines – for the very same job that men were doing before.
For example, the gap that is evident in jobs requiring similar education and responsibility, but divided by gender. According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the median earnings of information technology managers (mostly men) are 27 percent higher than human resources managers (mostly women).  At the other end of the wage spectrum, janitors (usually men) earn 22 percent more than maids and housecleaners (usually women).
According to the study, Occupational Feminization and Pay, occupations with a greater share of females pay less than those with a lower share, controlling for education and skills. This gap is explained by two dominant values – devaluation and queuing. Using census data from 1950 to 2000, the study found that when women moved into occupations in large numbers, those jobs began paying less even after controlling for education, work experience, skills, race and geography.
Sure, sometimes women voluntarily choose lower-paying occupations because they are drawn to fields like caregiving or nonprofits, and sometimes they want less demanding jobs because they have more family responsibilities. That’s a different subject altogether. These studies simply prove that not only do women get paid less for taking on the same types of jobs that men do, when they join men in the exact same fields, the pay gap remains. Men and women are paid differently not only when they do different jobs, but also when they do the same work.
What’s a woman to do? Ask for what she wants, and demand to be treated fairly.
My Leading Women co-author Gloria Feldt recently summed it up nicely at Motto.com and wrote, “We have to change the culture by knowing our value and insisting upon getting paid fairly for it. All that programming that taught us not to ask for certain things, really just taught us to value ourselves less than we value others. The remedy – the one and only thing that ultimately can close the pay gap – is right under our noses, in our mouths and informed by our hearts: the courage to speak up.”
Not only do you need to speak up, you need to know your worth. Women often start negotiations at a lower spot than men seeking the same job. The jobs site ZipRecruiter discovered in a study last fall that women underestimated their worth on average by $11,000. That’s a lot of money, and you know you’re worth at LEAST that! Keep in mind that she who doesn’t ask is guaranteed not to get.
Look at the data and information available online for average salaries for your profession in your region and consider the value you’ll add to the company. Do you go above and beyond? Try to find the number that you truly feel reflects your worth as an employee. Once you find the number that sounds and feels right, stick to it and don’t be afraid to ask for it. Doing so shows that you have confidence in your abilities to contribute value to the company.
The fact we are still observing Equal Pay Day and discussing the gender pay gap is both good and bad. Good in the sense that it is making top of the mind awareness nationwide, and bad that it is still an issue at all. We need to ask for what we want, and settle for nothing less than what our male counterparts are earning. Ask until it feels normal to you, and as Feldt says, “Flex those asking muscles and they will grow. Create a new stereotype – one that says – you bet women ask.”

Women Lead Best As Women

Woman kissing babyby Dr. Nancy  O’Reilly
Women have developed their leadership skills through everyday actions of nurturing their families and fostering their communities. But somehow, most people don’t think of it as leading. Stereotypical leadership is done by a white man in a suit who tells others what to do. That’s why in the 1980’s when I directed a large employee assistance program, I actually wore a suit and tie. Although I laugh about it now, the outfit was a symbol of the worn-out ideologies that still persist even though today the world is a much different place. So many women I interview for my podcast tell a story of having to shed those old ideas before they could succeed in their own skin and career. For a woman to lead well, she must acknowledge that her strengths as a woman can help her become a phenomenal leader.
Every chapter of my book, Leading Women, 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life, celebrates qualities that make women excel as leaders. Many of my amazing co-authors also warn of the minefield a woman must cross before she will be accepted and respected by both women and men. Internationally renowned speaker and co-author, Lois Frankel, PhD, writes that women aren’t better leaders, they are different leaders. Frankel says, “We know from history that to be successful, you must be a leader for your time.” And she further asserts that command and control leadership is dead. Today, she says that the kind of leadership needed is what women confidently exhibit within their normal social interactions: “We live in a time of cooperation and collaboration. A time when the carrot is more powerful than the stick,” Frankel says. “In short, a time well suited for a woman’s unique brand of leadership.”
I’m excited to be living in this time. It’s full of challenges, but I also see these as opportunities. Women are more educated and capable than ever. And many more women than ever before are willing to brave the push-back by stepping forward and running for office. The Suffragists thought we would have a woman president within 20 years of gaining the right to vote. We know that didn’t happen, but women are stepping up now in their communities and states to work for issues they value.
Co-author, Lois Phillips, Ph.D., says that a woman will overcome her fear of public speaking to fix something that makes her community a safer place to live,. For example she will stand up and  testify to the school board about a dangerous school crossing in front of her children’s school. Lois writes in Leading Women about possible obstacles and how to overcome them. She urges women to use the “power of the podium” and accept the “challenges and opportunities” to make positive change.
If this seems impossible to you, I want you to listen to my recent interview with Holly Dowling. Holly is a global inspirational speaker. I love the “Hollyisms” that she uses as mantras to get through the day. One that she has used through many career and life challenges is “Tell me no and watch me go.” When someone doubts that Holly can do something, she takes it as a challenge and moves forward with tenacity and persistence.
Another Hollyism is “Not woe is me, but WOW is me.” In finding inspiration and guidance within herself, she found her leadership style and now inspires thousands of others around the world to find theirs also. Listening to her, I thought of that school counselor who told me I’d never succeed in college and that I should go to secretarial school instead. My life would be quite different today if I had followed his advice.
Lois Frankel urges women to sit at the table and take risks. When you play it safe and say that you have no opinion just because your opinion is contrary to someone else’s, you just made your life smaller. To break that tendency, she recommends starting by taking small risks to minimize failure. When you realize that the results are rarely catastrophic, move up the risk ladder and expand your comfort zone. In fact, I think women should get comfortable being uncomfortable.
You have to get uncomfortable to ask for a raise, but if more women asked, the wage gap would finally begin to shrink from that 80% point where it’s been for too long. I recently saw a statistic that reported a little girl born today will not live to see equal pay. It’s up to us to change that. We need to give our daughters hope. What are we waiting for? It’s time for us to use our natural leadership skills, get past the nay-sayers who would hold us back and build our leadership brand. We need more women like you to accept the challenges to achieve your purpose. Look in the mirror and see how your natural gifts make you a phenomenal leader for your time.

Crystal Quade | Leadership Through Courage

Rep. Crystal Quade

Rep. Crystal Quade

Opportunities for women to step into leadership present themselves less often as invitations and more often as acts of courage. No one asked Crystal Quade to run for State Representative of Missouri’s 132nd district, but when a local non-discrimination ordinance that provided protections for many underrepresented members of her community was repealed in 2015, her convictions told her that it was time to lead. On the night of the repeal, she began to consider how running for office might affect her career as a young professional working for a nonprofit organization in addition to how it might affect her young family. She recounts a conversation with her husband where she asked questions like “What will I miss out on with my family?” “Do I have the experience to do this?” and “Am I even good enough?” She also noted, “These are the questions women ask themselves every time we are presented with opportunities for leadership.”
Every opportunity for leadership demands a certain amount of courage, but because women are more rarely considered for these opportunities than men, a woman’s decision to assume a position of leadership may be more thoroughly defined by her courage. In Leading Women, my co-author Sandra Ford Walston says, “Acting with courage is about acting from the heart, from the center of your innermost being.” She goes on to say, “The bull’s-eye that we women must learn to hit consistently is the true self… By focusing on the bull’s-eye of our true self, we access the empowering virtue of courage.”
As she weighed the decision of running for office, Quade could have easily given in to her doubts and hesitations, but she chose to follow the instincts of her true self—the path of courage. Quade had been preparing for this moment her entire life. She was a first-generation high school graduate who went on to earn a degree in social work. While in college, she discovered an interest in government through a course on policy, and she accepted an internship in the state capital her senior year. After college, she spent two years working for the United States Senate and has since devoted herself to non-profit work empowering her local community. Her doubts about her experience and qualifications were easily reconciled simply by observing the ways that she aligned with her true self to find and fulfill her passions.
When Quade spoke at the recent Women’s March in her hometown of Springfield, Missouri, she talked about the bevy of issues that are decidedly important to women being debated and even threatened in the current political cycle. She reminded those gathered for the march, “Our voice is not only needed. It is being demanded.” Recognizing the need for more women in leadership at every level of government, she said, “Look to the woman next to you. Ask her to run. Ask her to lead.” Quade punctuated her remarks by saying, “And damn it, when you get asked, say yes!”
The way to increase invitations to leadership among women is for women to extend them. However, at this moment in time, women can no longer afford to simply wait for invitations to lead. They must continue to do as Quade did and lead from a place of courage. When women see opportunities to lead that align with their own sense of their true selves, they must step up with courage and conviction and do the work that must be done. When it comes to leadership, women’s voices are not only needed. They are being demanded.

Do What Gives You Joy

Holly Dowling

Holly Dowling

Global Keynote Speaker and Women’s Leadership Expert Holly Dowling chooses every day to do what gives her joy and uses her driving passion to inspire other women to do the same. A crooked path led her from pre-law at K-State, through a career as a cruise director, life as a single mom and a VP of an international financial firm. What saw her through were her three words to live by: tenacious, fortuitous and perseverance. Now she tells women around the world to shed anything that dims their light and say yes to everything and every person who supports their passion and purpose. When Holly is brought into corporations for leadership programs, she finds that instead of professional development, women most need to focus on who they are and rekindle the power and the light within to truly make a difference in the world.

Hollyisms BookYou Are Not Alone!

No matter what culture they live in around the world, women want to know, most of all, that they are not alone. Holly’s mission is to share that message and why and how they can be true to themselves and live their passion. Universally, women look outside of themselves for permission to be who they are and go after their dreams. Holly sees many women break down in tears when they realize that they have been allowing the lack of permission to hold them back. They are liberated by the understanding and the epiphany that comes with knowing they have the power to choose. Holly urges women to see every day as the gift it is. When Holly considers her day, she asks, will this client give me joy?
On the flip-side, she tells women to stay away from emotional vampires. When you feel emotionally drained, look at who you spent your time with and what you were doing. Look for like-minded people who will support you, energize you and help you live your passion. “Quit shoulding yourself” and stay true to your character. There are more inspirational quotes in her book, Hollyisms: Let Your Life Shine, which is part meditations, part journal.

Celebrate You!

Listen to more inspirations from this engaging and fun conversation and check out Holly’s website, hollydowling.com. Her free special gift for people connecting with this interview is a button on her home page to listen to one of her all-time favorite podcasts that she broadcasts, Celebrate You!

Reach Out to Help Another Woman Lead

by Dr. Nancy O’Reilly
Women keep saying to me, “This is our time. There has never been a better time to be a woman.” It’s true. We have more degrees and opportunities than ever before and, even though we lag behind men in earnings, more women are achieving independent means than ever before. My Leading Women coauthor, Joanna Krotz, tracks women’s progress toward wealth in her chapter, “Redefining Sex and Power: How Women Can Bankroll Change and Fund Their Future.” Joanna says, “Women alive today belong to the most affluent, educated, and longest-lived generations in history.”
Women Reach Out and Help Each Other
It’s no wonder many of us who promote women empowerment are impatient to see women take their seats at the tables of policy and power. It’s time for each of us to step up and speak out to create a better world for all of us. It’s proven in study after study that when women lead, their policies benefit the lives of the people they serve. It’s not rocket science then to conclude that having more women leaders will make the world a better place.
I’ve been on this soap box for quite awhile now, encouraging women to reach out and help each other. Leading Women: 20 Influential Women ShareTheir Secrets to Leadership, Business, and Life was created by 20 skilled leaders who did just that. They reached out with expertise and wisdom to share actionable tools women can use to accomplish their passion and purpose. With the influx of women signing up in recent months to learn how to run for public office, its messages are especially relevant today. The expertise in this book comes from a broad range of ages, races and countries. Women everywhere are looking for ways to continue — and accelerate –the momentum of the world-wide women’s march. That’s one reason why women are reaching out to share their time, talent and treasure.
And women do give, and at higher rates than men. Women give at all levels and by all means. Many establish foundations like my own WomenConnect4Good, Inc.
Leading Women co-author Linda Rendleman established her Women Like Us foundation to support other organizations working to benefit women and children. Her chapter, “Poise, the Final Ingredient,” tells how she developed the perspective to define herself in ways that would help her create social change. She chose Audrey Hepburn for her role model, because of her “poise” and quoted the actress as saying that her ambassadorship for UNICEF was the most difficult role she ever played.
If you read history closely, you’ll find women throughout the centuries who stepped up to care for those forgotten by society. They founded schools, charities, hospitals and agencies to fill countless social needs.
My co-author Shirley Osborne tells the story about one such school in her chapter, “Information: The Best Philanthropy.” A simple school that began to help female immigrant factory workers learn English became Simmons College, which instituted the first MBA designed specifically for women’s career and leadership success. That’s where Shirley, originally from a tiny Caribbean Island, received her MBA and gained the tools to realize her personal and professional vision.  With that inspiration and the stories of the women she met there, including one from China who hid her studies from her husband, Shirley noted the improvements in the lives of women and girls brought about by women philanthropists. In fact, Shirley Osborn has gone on to become the recently elected Speaker of Montserrat’s Legislative Assembly and Executive Director of The Women’s Resource Center.
There are literally thousands of such stories, in which one woman reaches out to another, in turn empowering them to do the same for still others, as did all 20 of the Leading Women co-authors. The single message here is that now we have an opportunity to engage women like no other time in history. Women are stepping forward to say, “I care. Women’s Rights Are Human Rights. I want to be respected. I want to make a difference. Feminine leadership is powerful leadership.” As my co-author Gloria Feldt says, “It is not power over; it is the power to” join with others to create a world that supports a culture of respect for all of humanity.
We have a responsibility as citizens of a free world to protect and exercise our civil rights. This is the way to protect ourselves and our families and create more women leaders. Most women already function as leaders in their families and communities; we just need to believe in ourselves and gain the self-confidence to go forward. Read the stories in Leading Women to find out how others overcame their fears, stepped into their “power to,” and achieved their purpose while helping others achieve theirs. The stories in Leading Women will inspire you to step up and make a difference in the world.

Find Your Voice and Give It To Those In Need

Cindy Dennis“I’m never going to quit. I’m going to do this until the day I die.”
Those are the words of Cindy Dennis, a woman whose experiences of trauma and heartache ultimately shaped her life’s work—educating and empowering children to recognize and speak out against all forms of abuse.
Cindy’s journey began in the 1980s when her young son was abused by a family member. This event set in motion the long process of therapeutic recovery, but it also sparked a deep desire in Cindy to learn how she could be a voice for other children who experienced abuse. She earned a degree in psychology, and in the process of learning how to give a voice to others, Cindy recognized that she needed to give herself a voice as well. Speaking out on behalf of the sometimes-voiceless victims of abuse would make demands of her personally, so she sought the counsel of professional coaches in addition to her personal network to help her define her voice.
Cindy benefited from the insight of her coaches, but she also found tremendous value in surrounding herself with other women who provided her with strength, empowerment, and encouragement on her path of discovery. Though others may not have experienced the same hardships that she had, Cindy recognized that there was power in reaching out and comforting the women in her life who were also going through difficult times, as many had done for her. Relationships built on transparency and vulnerability provide a strong sense of safety and mutuality. She acknowledges, “We’re all in this together.”
Your Voice is PowerThese days, Cindy is using her voice to help children and their communities develop an awareness of abuse while taking steps to prevent it. In 2016, she established the Give a Child a Voice Foundation, an organization that strives to be the nation’s leader in educating and empowering children to protect themselves from all forms of abuse. Cindy says that many people are reluctant to talk about abuse because it brings up bad memories or feels awkward, or they just want to pretend it doesn’t exist. Her goal is to smash that way of thinking and confront the issue head on. Her work is rooted in the belief that every child was made to shine, and her convictions embolden her to break down the walls of discomfort and shine a light into a very dark subject. From community events to sales and giveaways of a series of picture books written and drawn by Cindy herself, Give a Child a Voice is removing the stigmas of abuse and giving communities the power to recognize and prevent child abuse.
To learn more about the Give a Child a Voice Foundation, visit their website, and be sure to check out Cindy’s book series at her site. For every book purchased, a book is donated to a child in need.

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