At the first WBC Steering Committee meeting of 2017, Vice Chair Jackie Sheffer asked a series of tough questions, to which each member answered by physically moving to a corner representing strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. With Question 1, Does the WBC have the ability to change the world?, I found myself standing solo by the supersized post-it marked strongly agree, while the majority agreed. My logic was simple: Yes, the WBC can change the world because it has and continues to change my world.
Flashback to mid 2014, I was a shy, focused, dedicated, (did I mention shy?), project engineer, celebrating seven years at the only “real world” job I’d ever known. Having entered the workforce in 2008, at the start of the Great Recession, I was lucky to: 1) have a job 2) love my job and 3) be able to say I’ve had amazing mentors at Chazen for my entire career thus far. Little did I know that my whole world was about to change.
That winter, Chazen would nominate me for the Women of Excellence – Emerging Professional Award, which I would receive the following spring. In a whirlwind, I was introduced to my six fellow recipients, quietly listening to their incredible life stories and absorbing every word like a sponge. I would meet Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, our current WBC Chair and recipient of this award the previous year, who would act as my mentor through the process. Ashley, a young woman who inspires girls each and every day through Girls Inc., would quickly inspire me. She told me to use this opportunity to promote change for other young professionals and urged me to use my remarks at the luncheon to send a message. Finding the courage from deep within to take this advice, I discussed the societal expectations I had to overcome as a woman, an engineer, a millennial, and an advocate for hunger relief programs. I challenged the 600 person audience to close the gender gap, create opportunity, and reconsider these stigmas. In three minutes, I had gone miles outside of my comfort zone and there was no going back.
It took three letters, WOE, to fill a void that I didn’t realize was missing. It took three letters, and a whole network of incredible women, to leave me empowered to recognize both my worth and my potential. I spent the next one and a half years of my life on a path of immense personal growth, which would lead to the easiest choice of my life, becoming involved with the WBC. As Co-Chair of the WOE nomination committee, my goal is to use everything I have learned to empower other women in our community. By nominating an individual for the 26th Annual Women of Excellence Awards, you have the ability to do the same. Together, we can change the world.
Nominations must be received no later than 5 pm on Thursday, January 31st. Click here to download the nomination form.