Becoming a Leader

Since childhood, my life was filled with role models of strong women leaders who were “firsts” in their positions.  Those early influences set the framework for the leadership roles of my life.

I wish I could tell you it’s always been easy – but I can’t.

Instead – I’ll share a very important but difficult story that changed my life and helped shape me into the leader and mentor I am today.

There was a day when I was all set to give up my dreams.  I’d been treated so unfairly and met with such hardships that I didn’t know if I even wanted to reach the goals I had set for my life. But then something important happened ….

You see, I had encountered a woman in my town that everyone both loved and feared who was a “first” to reach a powerful position in society.  She was also a leader in an organization that gave scholarships to high school girls to help them complete their studies. One month, I was one of the lucky ones selected for this honor. This woman decided that I had “potential” so she took my under her wings to mentor me on important life ideas. When I prepared to leave on a particular academic journey, she looked at me and said “I’m keeping my eye on you. When you get back, you answer to me about what you achieved.”

It was the memory of those words along with the hopes and dreams of my parents and grandmother that came back to me as I lay crying on my bed that summer afternoon feeling defeated.  I had earned the highest scores in the course on all the tests, but the professor gave me one of the lowest grades because he “didn’t believe in a woman studying business at that level.” When I found out he had left for a 3 month overseas trip and I couldn’t fight the grade without him being there I seriously considered dropping out of college. It was almost too much. How many times could I get shot down after trying so hard – because of unfairness of someone’s personal prejudices?

Yet, I knew that if I returned to my hometown without finishing my course of study, I would have to face my family and “that woman.”  Something in me knew that I couldn’t fail – I had to get up and fight once more to meet my goals.

There were mentors waiting on my good report – and I wasn’t going to let them down. I got up – choose to find the lesson in the pain – and went on to reach my goal.

My life was never the same.  After that,  I went on to achieve many other goals.

After graduating with a marketing degree, I pursued my interest in working overseas by joining the Peace Corps. I worked in West Africa organizing and developing food cooperatives.   Since then I’ve been to other African nations, Europe and most U.S. states for work or personal interests.

My education includes a B.S. in Marketing, an M.S. in Organizational Behavior, another M.A. in Organization Development and a Ph.D. in Human and Organization Systems.   When I started my doctoral program, I used the inspiration of my entrepreneurial father and leadership and mentoring background of my mother to focus my studies on women’s grassroots and community leadership styles. My dissertation research resulted in finding a unique empowerment leadership style of women who are leaders, mentors, and roles models in their profession, community or personal endeavors.

Over time, life taught me that as the world continues to evolve, every empty experience that makes people say “I never thought I’d see it happen” will be filled by a brave leader who refuses to give up on her dream.

When I decided to use what I’d learned to help others run towards their brilliance, taking the lessons found in their pain to fuel their journey, leadership roles have been in my life ever since.

I’ve shared this information as a keynote speaker and presenter at national and international conferences. I’ve even had the pleasure of delivering two commencement speeches, appear in the media, and serve as a peer reviewer for a prominent small business journal.

In visiting Spain and South Africa, my intercultural awareness of economic development was expanded as I marveled at the leadership abilities of women who live and work in a cornucopia of leadership positions.

As a faculty leader, diversity director, and professional presenter, I’ve gained experiences that are beneficial to others in their leadership pursuits. While serving at a major University, I gained the confidence of my peers to serve as a faculty leader for five years, an experience that let me use my collaborative skills to open communication that helped move the organization to its stated goals with groups that often experienced broad differences of opinions. My leadership role as a diversity specialist broadened horizons for more professionals in public and private organizations and businesses.

I love writing and have multiple published books, an article in a leading leadership manual published by John Wiley publishers, several dozen other published articles, and have coached others to write and publish their works. The great thing is I love work with women from around the world to help them become great business professionals and leaders.

If you’re ready to get the mentoring needed to reach your goals – despite it all – I look forward to supporting you.