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Women Leading the Way

March 7, 2012

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter designated March 2-8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week. In his address he said, “From the first settlers who came to our shores, from the first American Indian families who befriended them, men and women have worked together to build this nation. Too often the women were unsung and sometimes their contributions went unnoticed. But the achievements, leadership, courage, strength and love of the women who built America was as vital as that of the men whose names we know so well.”

 In 1980 I was in college at SUNY Oswego and led there by Olive Spargo, the first female alumni association president, who reigned from my hometown. Olive believed young women should embrace leadership roles so in 1980 she asked me to start hosting receptions with her to encourage other students in our hometown to choose SUNY Oswego as their higher education choice. Not only was that experience my first “sales” job, but Olive’s belief in my abilities gave me confidence to be a leader the rest of my career.

When I look around New York today, I am very proud to see Joanie Mahoney leading Onondaga County, Deborah Stanley leading SUNY Oswego, Nancy Cantor at the helm of Syracuse University, Debbie Sydow transforming Onondaga Community College, and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand representing women in Congress. These women weren’t in these positions in 1980. Could Jimmy Carter’s message, the brave women of the suffrage movement and even individual efforts of female mentors like Olive Spargo help these women believe they could lead and change their communities someday?

Today’s post is to encourage you to recognize the women throughout history and involved in your personal history who inspired you to be courageous, strong and built to lead. This is the month to pay homage to the women in our lives who have helped us arrive where we are today.

Enjoy March. Enjoy Women’s History Month. Enjoy the fact you are a woman entrepreneur because of the women you know, and don’t know, who have led the way. Take time this month to encourage a younger woman to become a leader. Invite her to one of our programs. You never know she might just turn out to be the next billion dollar woman entrepreneur or the President of the United States one day.

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