Sunday, November 30, 2008

WMM~Valerie Jarrett

Until recently, Valerie Jarrett was not a recognized name. But since her appointment by president-elect Obama as a White House senior advisor, she has become a household name appearing on a number of Sunday morning talk shows devoted to politics. Valerie most recently served as CEO of real estate development company, The Habitat Company. She's a long-time friend of the Obamas who introduced them to the who's who of Chicago.
Valerie has an international upbringing. She was born in Iran where her father worked as a phyiscian. Prior to returning to her parent's hometown of Chicago, Valerie lived in London. Her whirlwind childhood exposed her to people and places that made her the woman she is today. From Valerie's bio it seems as though she was born into greatness. Her great-grandfather was the first African-American graduate from M.I.T., her grandfather served as the first black person to head Chicago's Housing Authority and her father was the first black student accepted into the resident program at St. Luke Hospital. Valerie's mom, Barbara Bowman is also a Woman Making Moves. She's co-founder of Erikson Institute, a Chicago-based graduate program focusing on child development.
Valerie Jarrett has always had a high-profile career. There aren't many women CEO's, so she already crossed a major milestone. But of course her life is going to become an open book now that she's apart of the Obama administration. I wish Valerie the best of luck and am grateful that she's setting a positive example for others to follow.
Women, start making your Moves today!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

WMM~Nonprofit orgs helping women

Last week I attended two nonprofit events that were devoted to helping women. The StepUp Women's Network held its annual holiday party to celebrate the dedication of its members and introduce potential members to the organization. Over 400 women gathered as StepUp highlighted its commitment to girls and women. Ann Shoket, Editor-in-chief of Seventeen Magazine, was the keynote speaker. Ann talked about the importance of women helping one another and mentioned the encouragement she received from Laurel Touby throughout her career. It was encouraging to be among women who were excited to help other women and in the presence of the StepUp organization, which has spent 10 years uplifting women and the next generation of women.
I also attended the Boys Town New York Building Hope Gala, which actually offers services for young men and women. The 90 year old nonprofit offers services for children and families during difficult periods in their lives. I sat next to a former program participant who shared with me that Boys Town changed her life. I mentor highschool girls and I see the daily situtations they face. The honesty from the Boys Town participant gave me hope that second chances can happen. The evening came to a close with a performance by Chrisette Michelle, one of my favorite artists.
StepUp and Boys Town are well-established nonprofits that have a variety of resources to help those in their program. But it doesn't take much to help other women. Serving as a mentor, volunteering with young women or donating funds to an organization of your course are a few ways to help other women.
Women, start making your Moves today!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

WMM~Women in Technology

Last week I attended an event called TechSet. Microsoft used the event to introduce their new project BizSpark, which is designed to connect Startups with entrepreneurial and technology resources. I met with a number of innovative technology people and connected with some of my Twitter friends. I tagged along with my husband who recently launched a mobile startup, CyberSynchs. The energy in the room was amazing.
Shortly during the event I noticed that the room was overwhelmingly occupied by men. I know this isn't news to most, but the women to men ratio was completely noticeable. I recently became interested in the world of technology and I would encourage other women to jump on the bandwagon.
There are numerous resources women can use to learn more about the technology field. Women in Technology is a nonprofit organization that offers professional development and networking opportunities. Women in Technology International, Girls in Tech and the Anita Borg Institute for Women and Technology are additional organizations that cater to women in the technology field.
I have to acknowledge Stephanie Agresta who is the co-founder of TechSet. She describes herself as an Internet Geek Girl. She's not embarrassed to acknowledge she's a geek and very much into technology. I don't have an answer as to why women shy away from the technology field, but I know we can compete on their level. Take the bull by the horns ladies!
Women, start making your Moves today!

WMM~Lt. Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody

Hilary Clinton mentioned at the end of her run for president that 18 million cracks were made in the ceiling regarding women equality. On Monday another crack was made. Lt. General Ann E. Dunwoody was nominated by President Bush to serve as a four-star general. Lt. Dunwoody will head the Army's supply arm, which is responsible for handling material readiness for the Army.
Lt. Dunwoody's nomination is truly amazing! She commented that her "family didn't know what glass ceilings were." Dunwoody has 33 years of army service, so her commitment to the military certainly can't be questioned. It also reveals that a strong sense of self was instilled in Dunwoody while growing up. If she's made it this far in her career, I'm positive that a strong family-base supported her.
Lt. Dunwoody is amongst the 57 active-duty women serving as generals or admirals. Yes, this number is low, but don't let this overshadow the fact that these women have made it to the highest ranks of the army. The job of a military personnel is no easy task. If America's servicewomen can excel in this male dominated field, there is no reason why other women can't do the same in their field.
Women, start making your Moves today!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

WMM~Michelle Obama (The nation's next First Lady)

It's been almost a week since Obama became President-elect and the world is still rejoicing! Like many, I watched the election returns, anxious to see what the nation would decide. And thankfully, the nation elected Mr. Obama. I'm excited about this historical moment in U.S. history. I immediately thought about my grandparents, their parents and other senior citizens who never thought this day would happen. I'm excited for my future children and for those who lived during segregation and Jim Crow whose fight for equality was not in vain.
I'm also rejoicing because the next First Lady looks like me. This may appear to be a juvenile statement, but as an African-American woman, I am well aware of the negative imagines that are portrayed. From the story of Sara Baartman to the 1980's welfare mom, the negative portrayal of black women has occurred for so long.
I am proud that Michelle Obama, the nation's next First Lady is a black women because the media will have a positive image of black woman to show to the world. Going from the South Side of Chicago to Princeton and then to Yale, are accomplishments that should be highlighted. In addition to her career, Michelle juggled a life as a committed wife and a devoted mother. But Michelle's story isn't necessarily unique. There are many women who do just this. My mother, a single parent of four, worked two to three jobs to support her family. She never complained and didn't slow down until she suffered a brain aneurysm four years ago.
I've dedicated a post to Michelle Obama before because I admire the image of a black woman that my niece and the high school girls I mentor can look towards as an example. Sure the young women I know have positive images of black women in their lives, but when they are constantly exposed to negative images, their self-esteem can be affected. Thank you Michelle Obama!
Women, start making your Moves today!

Monday, November 3, 2008

WMM~Madelyn Dunham (The family's cornerstone)

CNN broke the news Monday afternoon that Senator Barack Obama lost his 86 year-old grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. This comes at a time when Americans are preparing to elect the next president of the United States, which may very well be Senator Obama. Less than two weeks ago, Obama left the campaign trail to visit his grandmother. At the time it was announced that Toot, as Obama affectionately called his grandmother, was recovering from a broken hip. Today Obama and his sister Maya also confirmed that she was battling cancer.
The senator has mentioned his grandmother throughout his entire presidency. She along with Obama's grandfather, raised him for the majority of his life except for the year's he spent with his mom, stepfather and sister in Indonesia. It's bittersweet that I'm writing about Ms. Dunham now when just last week my admiration for her increased tremendously as I watched Obama's half-hour commercial. Obama and Maya referred to their grandmother as the cornerstone of their family. He went on to mention that she was humble and the type of person who would delay taking care of herself to provide for her family. As a child growing up in a single-parent household, Obama's grandmother reminds me so much of my mom. My mother continuously put herself last to ensure that I along with my brother and sisters were well provided for.
I've often discussed with my husband that it couldn't have been easy for Obama's grandmother to raise a bi-racial child in the 60's. In all honestly, this would not have been accepted by most families. But with the love of a grandmother, Ms. Dunham embraced Barack and showered him with love until her death. Ms Dunham was an amazing women, certainly a woman making moves. Barack shared throughout his campaign that his grandmother worked her way up from a bank secretary to a vice-president. It's tenacity such as this that makes Ms. Dunham apart of a long line of Women Making Moves!
While we may think that we have all the time in the world, life can unfortunately be short. I encourage you to live live to the fullest. Reach-out to your loved ones and express your love for them. Also, take time to acknowledge the women in your lives that are making moves. A great way to do this is to leave comment and forward the link to the outstanding woman in your life. I would like to acknowledge my mother, aunts and sisters who I admire for their compassion and spunk as outstanding women!
Women, start making your Moves today!