This Women’s History Month, I wanted to recognize some of the amazing female role models I’m inspired consistently by. Their impact is something I am incredibly thankful for.
Here are just a few of the strong, courageous, trailblazing women I admire…
Long before the #MeToo movement, Anita Hill stood up for herself and women across the country who have faced sexual harrassment in the workplace. I believe Anita Hill’s courage opened the door for much of the progress we’ve made in recent years regarding hostile work environments and gender discrimination. Hill, a young black woman at the time, spoke her truth and experience with Justice Clarence Thomas to a panel of all older, white, and powerful men long before society was told to believe survivors. I think of Anita Hill anytime I hesitate to speak out, regardless of the issue. Hill spoke out against injustice with the full awareness that she would receive backlash and be labeled for life. That means I can’t let something as small as embarrassment stop me from doing the same.
We are so lucky to have Mellody Hobson as a powerhouse in Chicago. Hobson is the Co-CEO of Chicago-based Ariel Investments and who, to steal Daniel Liberto’s words, ‘Was raised in an environment where the odds were stacked against her and yet emerged, a few decades later, as one of the nation’s most recognized and influential voices. She is certainly an incredible leader to watch.
Mellody has a 2014 TED Talk where she explores the idea of being ‘color brave’ when it comes to talking about diversity and inclusion in the workplace and life. In 2014, we weren’t having the same r important, uncomfortable conversations about race that we’ve had in recent months. Yet Mellody argued for it, even stating that, “If we truly believe in equal rights and opportunities in America, we cannot afford to be color blind but color brave.” (TED) It’s an honor to have Mellody in Chicago and I look forward to continuing to follow her influential career as she continues to make a difference in our businesses, communities, and conversations.
MY FELLOW ELECTED ILLINOIS STATE LEADERS
It’s not hard to find inspiring women when you work in the Illinois state government. We are lucky to have a vibrant and diverse roster of elected women in Illinois. Our House Democratic caucus even has a female majority! Our incredible strides are also reflected at the executive level — I’m constantly in awe of the determination, practicality, and passion that our Lt Governor Juliana Stratton shows day in and day out.
I’d also like to acknowledge my rockstar staff members who are a source of motivation for me. Thank you to Jessica, Jackie, Elizabeth, Julia, Lara, and Becky who all work tirelessly on behalf of the 12th district. These women and countless others inspire me every day.