Thursday, May 10, 2012
Judy Clabes: Women Leading Kentucky
honors leaders, innovators, achievers, success
“Transforming Lives: Celebrating Women and Children” was the theme of the 13th annual statewide Women Leading Kentucky conference, held in Lexington Wednesday – and a packed house heard a program that inspired and motivated from start to finish.
Molly Baker, the engaging founder of Girls on the Run International, talked about her innovative work with adolescent girls – and the importance of helping young girls develop self-esteem and self-respect. A four-time Hawaii Ironman tri-athlete, Baker founded Girls on the Run in 1996, and it has grown into 150 cities, involving hundreds of thousands of girls. The curriculum she developed is used extensively to enhance the physical and mental health fitness of girls.
“Girls need resilience,” she says. “The spirit of who we are matters most.”
Stepping out of her “comfort zone,” Sandra Pianalto, president and CEO of the Cleveland district Federal Reserve Bank, shared her personal “lessons learned.” Pianalto is accustomed to straight talk about serious economic issues and monetary policy. To speak about herself is not so customary. But the girl who began her life in the Italian Dolomites spoke meaningfully about the sacrifices her parents made to bring her and her siblings to America – for the opportunity of a better education.
She has clearly made the most of it, having cracked some glass ceilings in a male-dominated circle of economic decision-making.
Her lessons learned? Embrace uncertainty. Commit to a lifetime of learning. Create a culture of respect and inclusion. Take control of your career. Have stretch goals.
Good advice, all around.
Winners of the Martha Layne Collins Award were Crit Luallen, former Kentucky State Auditor, Pam Miller, former mayor of Lexington, and Lois Combs Weinburg, long-time education advocate and founder of the Hindman Settlement School’s Dyslexia Program. Those distinguished women were joined by two others – Dr. Mary Evans Sias, president of Kentucky State University, and Tori Murden McClure, president of Spalding University, for an engaging discussion of leadership, service, advice and change.
Dr. Sias, who has exhibited considerable leadership skills in re-making Kentucky State, lead the discussion with polished skill and good humor. She set the stage with “leadership is a privilege” and said later that the real measure of her actions was how her 90-plus year old mother would feel about them. (A good test for sure!)
Luallen encouraged women to get more involved in public life – not just running for office but participating in some way. She urged every women to stay tuned into a “moral compass” so that decisions are “grounded in integrity” and focused on “doing the right thing.”
Weinberg expressed optimism about women’s leadership roles, saying “our lives are a journey” and constantly evolving.
Miller said she has seen “a lot of changes, as more women are in the pipeline” for public service.
McClure, the first woman to row a boat along across the Atlantic Ocean, said she is “encouraged by the youth of Kentucky – their vigor and seriousness” and advised that “some version of the Golden Rule” is always the best guide to success.
As a group, these are powerful, persuasive women who have accomplished incredible things in their productive lives – and are good role models for all of us.
Women Leading Kentucky was founded by Janet Holloway who is its executive director and who continues to set a leadership example herself. The organization has provided networking and life-long learning opportunities for Kentucky women since its inception in 2000.
Judy Clabes is founder, editor and publisher of KyForward.com.