Women Inspire by Magi Thomley Williams
The role of inspiration is a critical one as women seek to find their equal footing in the American political process. Many women prefer to work behind the scenes in everything from political campaigns to successful economic development programs. Every woman who encourages her daughter to run for class president influences and inspires the future of our country.
Nikki Fried, Florida’s newly elected agriculture commissioner, shared at the 2019 LEAD Summit presented by Florida Commission on the Status of Women how her single mother inspired her to try for anything she wanted. Fried broke a glass ceiling on the campus of University of Florida where she was elected the first female student body president. She is still blazing trails by being the first woman elected as Commissioner of Agriculture because she was inspired and supported by another female.
The late Senator Birch Bayh of Indiana was inspired to craft and lead passage of Title IX, legislation guaranteeing women access to educational and athletic programs in higher education. The legislation has opened doors for countless women to attend colleges and universities and to compete athletically leading to success and financial security. Bayh’s work was inspired by his wife Marvella. She was denied admittance to the University of Virginia for no other reason than she was a woman. Bayh also worked to pass the Equal Rights Amendment-legislation that would guarantee women equal treatment under the law-legislation that has, embarrassingly, not yet been ratified in the state of Florida. Who will be the inspiration to bring the Equal Right Amendment back to our Florida Legislature for consideration and passage?
Recently, Pensacola residents were inspired by a visit from a 2019 International Woman of Courage, Marini de Livera of Sri Lanka. Ms. de Livera was one of only 10 women in the world to receive the distinction, an honor bestowed by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and First Lady Melania Trump on March 7 in Washington D.C. President Maithripala Sirisena of Sri Lanka appointed Marini de Livera as the chairperson of the National Child Protection Authority (NCPA). In her years of service, she fought tirelessly for the rights of women and children. While risking her own safety and wellbeing she battled powerful business and political forces that diverted Shri Lankan tax funds from medical care, housing and other services to projects benefiting the powerful rich.
Diane Mack, along with six other founding members of Institute for Women in Politics (IWP), has served as in inspiration to scores of women who are interested in a career in elected office, as a fund raiser, or as an informed voter. Under Mack’s leadership, IWP members have worked to involve women in local, state and national elections since IWP’s inception over six years ago. The organization has educated women and men on important issues including how to raise funds for political or non-profit organizations, how to negotiate effectively and how to run a successful political campaign. Mack has personally mentored other women to successful run for office and served herself on the Pensacola City Council. She will soon turn over the leadership of the organization to other inspiring women, like Myra Van Hoose, the current IWP President. These women will continue to lead and inspire change in all levels of government; to encourage inclusion and civil dialogue leading to a better life for all citizens.
Each of us has the opportunity to inspire and support each other. Women do that naturally, often without realizing the importance of our contributions and often without receiving recognition for them. Who are the women who have inspired you to become involved in business, community or political leadership? Share your story with us at www.facebook.com/iwpflorida
Magi Thomley Williams is the director of public relations at Wind Creek Hospitality and serves as secretary for the IWP Board of Directors. To inquire about membership in the Institute, email contact@IWPflorida.org.