Leadership Spokane is committed to the truism that leaders always learn. This month has been officially designated Women’s History Month which at its core celebrates leaders. It grew out of a weeklong celebration of women’s contributions to culture, history and society organized by the school district of Sonoma, California, in 1978. It was officially recognized by Congress and the President two years later. 2017’s theme honors women who have successfully challenged the role of women in both business and the paid labor force. These woman being honored by the National Women History Project all share several traits despite growing up in different generations: vision, persistence, and courage.
Kate Mullany, for example, established the first female labor union back in 1864 to protest low wages in difficult laundry working conditions. Kate saw the inequity affecting so many females workers and had the courage and persistence to initiate a strike until the laundry services in her community decided to raise wages for all women. Kate trail blazed new conditions for generations to follow.
A generation later, Maggie Lena Walker grew up in post-Civil War Richmond, Virginia, believing in the value of self-worth and helping others. In 1903, she became the first African American female to charter a bank which thrived as the oldest continuously African American-operated bank in the U.S. until 2009. Walker’s continued success in business gave her additional opportunities to pursue her goals of empowering African Americans and women. Walker blazed a trail ignoring the racial segregation around her and set a new path of freedom by the example of the life she lived.
Today, women leaders continue to be trailblazers. Notably, Nina Vaca is Pinnacle Group’s Founder, Chair, and Chief Executive Officer. The National Women’s History Project website states: “Her dynamic leadership over the past 20 years has propelled the company from a niche IT services firm to the workforce solutions powerhouse it is today. She is a trailblazer as one of the very few Latinas elected to serve as director of a publicly-traded company. Pinnacle’s evolution and astronomical growth is the result of Vaca’s fearless approach to overcoming challenges and her intense focus on delivering impeccable service and putting people at the heart of everything. Pinnacle has been named to the Inc. 500/5000 list of fastest growing companies for over a decade and in 2015 was named the Fastest Growing Women Owned/Led Company in the U.S. by the Women Presidents’ Organization.”
These three leaders in their own time showed the critical steps to be trailblazers: vision, perseverance and courage. As we honor Women’s History Month, it is important to find similarities between the past great leaders to learn, to emulate and to honor. Leadership is timeless and as diverse as the imagination of trailblazers who find new ways to inspire greatness. March 8 is International Women’s Day and Leadership Spokane honors those who lead by serving others.
A strong woman stands up for herself. A stronger woman stands up for everyone else. ~ Unknown