As a new corporate member of the Lexington, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, I recently attended my first event: Women Leading Kentucky Business and Leadership Conference. It was an exciting day spent networking and learning from professional women in the Lexington area.
About Women Leading Kentucky
Co-Founded in 2000 by Janet Holloway, Women Leading Kentucky is an organization that recognizes and fosters education, mentoring and networking for women all of ages, enabling them to lead, learn achieve and give back to their communities.
Each year Women Leading Kentucky identifies 8-10 undergraduate students in Kentucky colleges/universities for a one-time scholarship award of $1,000-$1,500 based upon their leadership abilities. Janet along with the Board of Directors also hosts a spring conference where they invite key women leaders to speak about their professional careers, personal experiences and initiatives taken to make a difference in their communities.
The theme of this year’s conference was Transforming Lives: Celebrating Women and Children. This theme resonated with me particularly as I lead Creation’s MAD (Making A Difference) initiative for the Lexington Business Unit, which works to help those within our communities.
I was interested to hear what Sandra Pianalto, President and CEO, Fourth District Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and Molly Barker, Founder of Girls on the Run International and Author, had to say about their personal experiences.
Sandra Pianalto’s job makes her one of the most powerful figures in Greater Cleveland, Ohio. She’s a member of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee, which sets the cost and availability of the nation’s money and credit.
Pianalto’s parents decided to leave their native home when she was 5 and move to the U.S. so that their children could have a better education. Her parents struggled to acclimate, but Pianalto learned from them some basic lessons:
- Embrace change
- Move out of your comfort zone
- Never underestimate people
While these lessons might seem simple they are some of the most difficult. It is sometimes scary to step out of our comfort zone into the unknown to help those that are less fortunate. Pianalto spoke passionately about engaging her team and community. She is always asking questions and encouraging people to share ideas and take risks.
Meet Molly Barker
Molly began running at the age of 15 when she found herself stuck in the “girl box”. The girl box is where girls go when they begin to morph into what they think they should be instead of being who they really are. The messages vary but are rooted in the belief that girls and women must conform to standards that are often unattainable and dangerous to our health and well-being.
During a run in 1993, after years of questioning her self-worth and self-image, Molly found the inspiration that grew into Girls on the Run. In 1996 she piloted the earliest version of the 24-lesson curriculum with 13 brave girls. 26 girls came the next season, then 75, and so on. Today, Girls on the Run is offered in over 150 cities across North America and thousands of girls’ and women’s lives have been changed by the program.
Since creating Girls on the Run, she has authored two books, ‘Girls on Track: A Parent’s Guide to Inspiring our Daughters to Achieve a Lifetime of Self-Esteem and Respect’, and ‘Girls Lit From Within’.
Having struggled with self-esteem and body image issues for many years I can understand and appreciate Molly’s efforts. One negative comment, taken to heart, may set forth a chain of events that can lead young women and even men down a dangerous path.
So, Why ‘I’m Glad I’m MAD’??
When I refer to being glad that I’m MAD, I really mean that I’m glad I can help in Making A Difference in the lives of those around me.
One of the things I love most about Creation’s culture is that people are passionate about helping others. Whether it’s a food, clothing or book drive, or a shoreline clean-up, all 11 manufacturing business units have a MAD team that works continuously to reach out to those in their community.
Does your company have a Making a Difference initiative? What can you do to help those around you? Any ideas you would like to share?