Developing Women Leaders in the Fight for Equality
February 15, 2011 by Carolyn Simon, Deputy Director of Digital Media
Though wintry weather threatened some travel plans, it could not stop two dozen women from coming to HRC’s headquarters in late January for the third annual Women and Leadership Retreat.
Women are already key leaders in all aspects of HRC’s work. The retreat is just one opportunity for rising stars to develop new skills, and for current leaders to build on their abilities to help move us all closer to winning equality for all. All of the attendees are current HRC Board and Steering Committee members who came from places like Houston, Chicago, Phoenix, New York and Los Angeles. Utah had representation – two attendees, in fact – for the very first time!
A key theme of the four-day retreat was diversity. Of course, the attendees brought much diversity to the table, in terms of age, background, gender history, race, ethnicity and more. They learned how to navigate through these intersections to unite people around common goals. The retreat “allowed me to be vulnerable and helped me identify my strengths and growth opportunities to becoming a true leader,” said Cathy Sarky of the Greater Cincinnati Steering Committee. “It inspired me to allow my voice to be heard and empowered me to achieve my hope for true equality for all.”
The women explored topics such as effective communication and the impact of gender bias on the individual. Small discussion groups – which were named for and drew inspiration from innovative leaders such as Jane Addams, Margaret Chung and Sylvia Rivera – allowed the retreat attendees to work on applying what they learned to situations they face in their local HRC communities. “The most valuable part of the W&L Retreat was meeting the other women and marveling at their tenacity, dedication and spirit in developing into productive passionate leaders in their community,” said Marilyn Abalos of the Greater New York Steering Committee. “Their struggle and survival in life are examples to emulate.” Interested in attending next year’s retreat? Keep your eye on www.hrc.org/women for details on the application process.
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