Two years ago on a lovely fall morning, I rose early, and drove an hour and a half to Raleigh, NC. After muddling my way through construction and parking restrictions on a college campus, and walking for what seemed like a mile in “sitting shoes” (not walking shoes) towards the student center, I arrived. I didn’t know it that day, but I was knocking on the door of my future, by registering at a table for an event I felt driven to attend. The words “welcome to the NC Women’s Summit” rang through my ears as I headed towards the door where another woman said, “Hey, come on in!”
To my delight there was a room filled with my comrades — the women of North Carolina. The energy was charged with chatter, laughter, intellectual insight, practical advice, political analysis, anecdotes of courage and conviction, and most importantly: calls to action. We we were all thinking together how we, the women of North Carolina, could make our state better for us all.
The day left me energized, informed about new ideas, connected to new people, and ready to engage the women in my circles about the things I had learned. I also left little curious as well. Who was this convening organization… Women AdvaNCe? I have been involved in progressive work in this state and beyond for more than 20 years and I did not know who they were.
Fast forward two years and four months later and I find myself becoming more and more intimate with the work of Women AdvaNCe as I begin my journey as the new Executive Director.
I come into this space first with gratitude. Women AdvaNCe is a vibrant organization charged with important work. The founder, Laura Edwards, the board members, and our first executive director have midwifed this organization from an idea to a viable entity in the fabric of North Carolina’s progressive tapestry.
I come into this space with humility. I am the “daughter” of those who sacrificed and endured much to become contributing citizens of this country. From the shores of West Africa, to the shores of South Carolina and North Carolina, my ancestors’ footprints have left considerable imprints as civic, educational, and business leaders. I stand firmly on their shoulders as I envision what is possible and understand my purpose for my work at Women AdvaNCe.
I come into this space understanding my responsibility to the mission of Women AdvaNCe to empower the women of North Carolina by creating a network committed to progressing social change and uniting women to share their stories, so every woman and every family will have a fair chance.
I come into this space ready to work! The state of our state is challenging right now, but all’s not lost. Those brilliant voices that inspired and energized me two years ago are still with us. It will be their insight that will help Women AdvaNCe to move boldly into uncharted territory as an organization.
I am rolling up my sleeves, making some strong coffee, putting on my readers (if I can find them) and navigating the vast terrain of policy, and its impact on women and families in North Carolina.
I am putting gas in the car, plugging in the GPS and finding my way across this beautiful state to engage the women of North Carolina in their neck of the woods at their kitchen tables. I want to hear their dreams, concerns, and passions as we build and grow together to ensure that we support emerging leaders and progressive grassroots action.
I am listening, reading, and observing so I can better understand our points of intersection, strategic alliances and yes, even our differences as we connect person to person, institution to institution, in an effort to ensure success of progressive work across the state.
There is a West African proverb that says: “If you want to go fast go alone; if you want to go far go together.” I want us all to go far, to push beyond what we thought was possible, to face obstacles, to embrace our strengths together.