Skip to content

Using your Vote for Change: Women in Public and Organizational Leadership

October 16, 2016



Why should you care about board composition? Boards of directors make decisions that can impact you, your community, and the country. That’s why it’s important that membership on corporate boards be representative of a company’s constituents. Boards of directors choose CEOs. They make decisions about executive compensation, whether to buy, sell, or merge with other companies, where corporate offices close and relocate, and how much priority a company gives to issues other than profits, such as social responsibility.

Good corporate decision-making requires the ability to hear and consider different points of view, which comes from people who have different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Companies that have women directors and executive officers lead by example. They send a clear message that they value diversity of thought and experience. Advancing women to positions of leadership is smart business.

 Here are a few things to consider when it comes to a Board of Directors:

  • Diversity of Thought: Women on boards bring different perspectives to the difficult issues facing today’s corporations. It is widely believed that diversity of thought results in better decision making.
  • Stakeholder Representation: The makeup of corporate boards of directors should be representative of the company in which it governs: shareholders, employees, and customers.
  • Competitive Advantage: A diverse board is better positioned to thrive in today’s global economy where the pace of change is accelerating and rapidly changing economic realities require nimble, strategic and well-informed directors.
  • Availability of Essential Skills: Senior women executives offer the skills and experience that most boards need, including industry knowledge, operational experience, and functional expertise.

 As of right now, there is a huge, untapped pool of talent.

Women hold just a small number of corporate board seats. In 2015, the 2020 Women on Boards Gender Diversity Index of Fortune 1000 companies showed that 17.9% of corporate directors were women. This is a small number when you consider that: women comprise about half of the total U.S. workforce; hold half of all management positions; are responsible for almost 80% of all consumer spending; and account for 10 million majority-owned, privately-held firms in the U.S., employing over 13 million people and generating over $1.9 trillion in sales.

It is time that companies took advantage of this untapped pool of qualified board candidates. It’s time that we increased the number of women who serve on corporate boards.

There is a strong relationship between the gender of a company’s key leaders and the diversity of its board of directors. Women account for 49 CEOs, 37 Board Chairs, and 158 Nominating Committee Chairs in the Fortune 1000. Compared to their male counterparts, women in these roles are much more likely to oversee gender diverse boards.

In fact, boards headed by women far exceed the national average of 17.9% women per company board. Female CEOs, Board Chairs, and Nominating Chairs have an average of 30.0%, 27.7%, and 23.1% women on their boards, respectively, while men in these positions trail at 17.3%, 17.6% and 17.2% women. While we cannot speak to causation, there is clearly a strong positive correlation between women in leadership positions and gender diversity on boards.

To close, here is a question to contemplate. And please, consider answering the question in the Comment section. I’d love to hear from you!

  • In what areas of interest could you expand your voice by joining a board or committee? Name three.

Here are a few resources for you to find board openings: (search “board member” under the Jobs tab)

Art Every Day!

October 15, 2015

It’s gettaedmlogored (1)ing chilly here and life is turning to more indoor pursuits (have I mentioned I’m a winter weenie?) That’s why November is the perfect time to join me in an  Art Everyday Challenge! Hosted by  Leah Piken Kolidas at the Creative Everyday website, participants are committed to a month of daily creating… painting, doodling, knitting, crafts, writing, photography, jewelry-making, or whatever interests you each day. The idea is to bring more creativity into your life; no pressure, just FUN!  Through the sharing of creative adventures, you are sure to meet some wonderful people via the group Facebook page, blog posts, Instagram, and Twitter. It will be a rewarding month as we cheer each other on!

Why don’t you join us for a month of fun and add some colour to your winter? Click HERE to check it out!

Are You Leaning In?

June 16, 2015

afraid_ Mug

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, is on a mission to unleash female ambition so that more women are in decision-making roles and having a profound impact on issues. Sandberg calls this “leaning in.” Women (and men!) worldwide are getting involved in the conversation around women’s leadership through community, education, and circles focused on encouraging women to pursue their ambitions, and changing the conversation from what we can’t do to what we can do.

Linked in is a great place to connect with others “leaning in” to their best selves! You can connect with a group from your local area or be a “virtual member” of any group. I am proud and feel privileged to be taught, supported, and challenged to grow by the amazing people in the Lean In Together Minneapolis-St. Paul group. At its heart, Lean In is about defying limitations through supportive relationships…

Read the book. Join a circle or online group. Get ready to Lean In to your best self. Trust me. You’ll be glad you did.

On Being a “Square Peg”

July 24, 2014

Writing. Teaching. Training. Speaking. It’s what I do best. It’s what I love. I tried to fit my “square peg” into a round hole these past two years pursuing a “real” job… 9-5 at a major employer. Other than making some amazing friends (a BIG shout out to Jeanine, Gillian, Carey, Carla, Rebecca, and Amanda!) this journey solidified what my heart already knew… This “renaissance soul”, this “scanner” this “polymath”, this”multipotentialite” has a different approach to using my gifts. (For a complete explanation of this personality type I highly recommend reading Emilie Wapnick’s insightful explanation on her blog Square Peg Picture

I am back to writing, with the outline for an e-book brewing in my head and blog and training topics multiplying daily. I am back in my studio painting. I take writing breaks by working in my perennial gardens. These are solitary pursuits, and I love socializing, so a challenge will be for me to step away from the computer and experience life “out there”. When you are self-employed, this is sometimes a hard thing to do… A lot of great relationships are formed and maintained “at work”… working from home? Not so many. What I am asking from you, dear readers, is support, encouragement, topic ideas, networking, and maybe a glass of wine every once and awhile. I am looking for speaking, training, and workshop leading opportunities, so keep me in mind if something crosses your path.

Following my own advice to live authentically and intentionally,


Give Me a Break!

March 3, 2011

I don’t know about you, but I have never been finished with ALL of my work. There is always something I just don’t get to. Either I drag my heels because it is an unappealing chore, or I am just too tired to do one more thing. I usually feel guilty, lazy, or disappointed with myself… I am, after all, a born and bred Minnesotan.

You have most likely felt the same pressure to “get it all done” at some point in your life. In our culture, so much of our identity, success, and our self worth is tied to our usefulness and productiveness. What is one of the first things you ask a new acquaintance? Usually, it is “What do you do?” Sadly, we are often valued for what we do, not who we are. The constant pressure to perform is spiritually, mentally and physically exhausting. To cope, we eat too much, drink too much, develop a short fuse, and often become depressed. We sometimes get sick. Some of us die.

Take a look at the numbers:

  • 435,000 American women have heart attacks annually;  83,000 are under age 65;  35,000 are under 55.  The average: 70.4.
  • 42% of women who have heart attacks die within 1 year, compared to 24% of men.
  • Under age 50, women’s heart attacks are twice as likely as men’s to be fatal.
  • 267,000 women die each year from heart attacks, which kill six times as many women as breast cancer. Another 31, 837 women die each year of congestive heart failure, representing 62.6% of all heart failure deaths.

With numbers like these, we can’t afford not to make some changes in our own lives.

In my search for more balance and purpose in my life, I have often struggled with finding time to rest and just “be”. In a busy household, there just isn’t a lot of margin some weeks. This week has been full of endless rounds of the “mom where is my….?” game. Recently, however, I was led to look more closely at a very familiar Bible verse. Many of us have heard before that God rested on the seventh day. I am sure the creation of the earth and all that is in it was no small job! However, I had never noticed a few key words in the verse that have a deeper lesson for us.

.. 2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.(Genesis 2:2) (emphasis mine)

God had finished the work he had been doing.

Not ALL his work, just the tasks of the day, the jobs at hand. Moreover, he didn’t head to Starbuck’s to have a latte for thirty minutes. He rested for a WHOLE DAY! I repeat, A WHOLE DAY! (I can hear you now.. “Yeah, right. I can’t even brush my teeth in peace!) Just bear with me here.

The Jewish tradition has been practicing this idea of a day of personal renewal for centuries; they call it “Sabbath keeping”. The meals are cooked the day before, the work is put out of sight, the house is tidied up and 24 hours of rest begins. Sometimes candles are lit to welcome the Sabbath. As productivity and accomplishment ceases, an amazing, freeing thing happens: spontaneity and childlike ability to play becomes uncorked. When we are not under the compulsion to produce, we are given time to be with others and discover who they are.

Some years ago, after the death of our second daughter, Julia, we began the practice of Sabbath keeping. Our day included church, previously cooked meals, naps, reading, watching movies, and playing games. Looking back, I value how those days provided a rootedness and peace in our family. Now, as the kids are older, other activities and needs have been in fierce competition for our day of rest and togetherness, and I feel the fatigue and tension in the house when we don’t take the time to slow down and connect with each other. My kids are learning to do, do, do in unhealthy levels as well. We have fallen into the trap of the 24/7 superstores and living life constantly on the go. The “crispiness around the edges” is showing. It is time to revisit the ancient paths again.

Felice Casorati (Italian Painter, 1883-1963) Dreaming Of Pomegranates 1912

Although many of you hold jobs that require working on Sunday, all is not lost. You may not be resting from sundown on Friday to sundown on Saturday as the Jews do, or on Sunday, the traditional day set aside by Christians. Set aside a different day. Maybe you don’t consider yourself to be a religious person. That’s OK. The goal here is not to be legalistic… the important thing is to consistently set aside a day from work. During your Sabbath time, choose to celebrate your day of rest in ways that are meaningful to you. You might sleep, read, walk, enjoy the company of a friend, pray, watch the clouds, or any of a hundred other things. The point is to not be enslaved by time. Feast literally and figuratively on the goodness in your life. Appreciate your blessings, the breath of life and the gift of the day.

When you have the goals of ceasing, resting, embracing, and feasting, you will discover the rewards of Sabbath keeping. You will begin to hear yourself think again. You will find your creativity energized. You will be living intentionally. You will experience rest and peace.

Make Today Count!

(For a deeper look at Sabbath Keeping, check out “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly” by Marva J. Dawn)

It’s Who You Know

January 24, 2011

I am blessed with many friends. A few are truly closer to my heart than family members. We have invested countless hours over the years talking about our dreams, our childhoods, and all the ups and downs of daily life. Our relationships continue by mutual choice and grow deeper because we continue to make the effort to know and understand each other.

I sometimes lead a fast paced life juggling the responsibilities of a wife, business owner, college professor, and mother of teenagers. (ok, MOST of the time!) Caring, understanding, and insightful friends who aren’t afraid to hold me accountable, point out weaknesses and errors, and generally “tell it like it is” are essential to my achieving balance in my life.

Hopefully, you have one or two of this type of friend in your own life…

With Christmas and New Year gatherings now behind us, I have had a few minutes to reflect on the time I recently spent with family and friends. I was warmed by the memories of shared food, laughter, and conversation at my sister’s house in Atlanta. We had a great time eating Tapas and playing American Idol on the Play Station. My niece, Faith trounced everyone, but the men should decidedly stick to their day jobs! They were a little pitchy dawg! My life is much richer for having my brother-in-law, Pete, in my life, even if he can’t sing.

A visit awhile ago to my best friend’s house in North Carolina was equally dear to my heart, even though both she and her husband were sick. They are a big part of my “family of friends” and cozying up to watch a movie with them was just what I needed.

Getting to know someone… their likes, their dislikes, their childhood stories, their dreams for the future… takes conscious effort and an investment of time. In this fast paced and disposable minded society, relationships are often neglected or even ignored. Nearly gone are the days of hand written thank-you notes… we send an e-mail, if anything at all. Christmas cards and letters… too expensive. A visit… gas prices and “going green” sideline travel. Talking over a nice hot cuppa tea… no margin in our schedules. Asking personal questions… we might be “politically incorrect” or offend someone, so we stay silent. A little gift… just “one more thing” on our never ending list of things to do.

“When we seek to discover the best in others, we somehow bring out the best in ourselves.”
-William Arthur Ward


Do you REALLY know your family members? Your friends? When is the last time you invited your sister-in-law out for a cup of coffee? When is the last time you asked your neighbor what books he is enjoying reading or what new music groups he is listening to? When is the last time you asked your in-laws to tell you a story from THEIR childhood? How long has it been since your friend’s mom died… did you ask if this Christmas was hard for him?

Many years ago, as a young bride, I struggled in a relationship with an older family member. I was very young and rather intimidated by the challenge of making friends with my husband’s family. No matter what I did or said, I always felt that this person was picking on me. Well, one day the light bulb went off… I decided to start asking questions about her… granted it was self-defense.. anything to have her stop picking on me! But do you know what? A wonderful thing happened. In asking about her girlhood, her work, her life, our relationship blossomed. I gained a new fondness and respect for her and enjoyed our times together immensely. We became friends and our hearts bonded after I took the step to reach out to her.

Who in your life could use a little extra attention?

Can you pry yourself away from the internet long enough to pick up the phone or hand write a note? Is a coffee date a possibility?

My challenge to all of us in 2011 is to invest.

Not in the economy, but in each other.

Strong relationships will strengthen you as you face the challenges of work and family this year. Life is precious and life is short. Don’t miss out on the richness of truly getting to know someone,  just as they are.

“You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.” ~Frederick Buechner


WALK! Don’t Run! to the Nearest Exit

January 14, 2011

When I was a kid, everyone loved school fire drills. When that buzzer rang, we knew that we would get to ditch our lessons and head outside. Heck, sometimes we even got to see a fire truck! By the time the drill was over and everyone was back in order, there was usually not enough time to finish what we had been working on, so we had a bit of free time before the next class. Free time was always a treat in elementary school!

The one thing I remember about the fire drills, besides the welcome interruption though, is my teacher telling us to WALK! Don’t run! to the nearest exit. Now, I know there is a very logical reason for this. When we run in panic, we risk being hurt even more than if we stay calm and respond with cool purpose. Our human instinct is to take “flight” when we are afraid or panicking when there is a threatening situation. If we hear someone yell ”FIRE”, we might very well be inclined to bolt out of the dangerous situation. Tragedies are reported often about needless deaths due to panic. In other, less life threatening areas of life, I liken this to my knee-jerk reaction. I just ACT! Now. I don’t think more than a second, if at all. I just act.

I see a direct application of this life instruction to “WALK! Don’t run!” to our current life challenges and decisions. How many times, when faced with a tough decision, do you “knee-jerk”? How many times before giving your answer to someone do you say “I’ll let you know in a day or two, after I’ve had a chance to think it over”? Not as many as you would like, I suspect. How many times have you regretted giving an answer right away because you decided upon later reflection that you really didn’t want to do it at all? Personally, being far too “Minnesota nice”, I have given a knee-jerk “yes” to many things I truly didn’t want to commit to.

The bottom line is this: when we WALK! Don’t run! into decisions and fearful situations, we are much more likely to arrive safely on the other side. The flames may be on the other side of the door, but by thinking through what to do, we can exit through the right door… the safer door.

Sleep on it.

%d bloggers like this: