Organized by the Women’s Leadership Institute at Auburn University, 30 women in undergrad and graduate programs joined together to identify solutions to the common challenges their organizations and communities face.
It was an impressive team and having spent just a day with them, I have great confidence in our upcoming women leaders. Six states and 12 universities were represented; each candidate was nominated, invited to apply and then carefully vetted. These women are the best that the best have to offer – and it showed.
The candidates are women working in outreach programs to mentor young elementary girls to break out of poverty; women pioneering in pharmacy to ensure safe dosage and procedures for the aging; women in law school focused on bringing equity to the workplace; and women in law enforcement representing those who have no voice. They are women of passion, spirit and courage. They represent our past, present and most importantly, future.
The luncheon speaker for the day set the tone and raised the bar for this ambitious group. Lilly Ledbetter shared her courageous story of fighting for equal wages against a corporate giant, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The case went all the way to the Supreme Court, and even though Ms. Ledbetter lost, Congress established the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act in 2009 in an attempt to equalize gender pay disparities. It was the first bill signed by President Obama when he took office. Not too shabby for a woman from Possum Trot, Alabama.
And that is the entire point – anything is possible when you have a clear direction and the skills to get there. The outcome may not be what you expected, but your leadership makes a difference and impacts the people around you. These women experienced many of these skills hands-on during an intensive, 4-day leadership program. They are the hopes and joys and dreams of our future – and that future is now.