A group of 180 women and female allies gathered last Friday, and we’re all a little speechless. Every woman had a story to share — of defeats and challenges and hopes and victories. And though we each arrived by our own winding path, there was quiet understanding that yes, we have all been there.
The feeling was sacred. We typically think about sacred places, where domed ceilings bestow gravity upon the words we all speak. Offices do not typically engender the same feelings, and in fact, feelings are generally avoided for the sake of professionalism. No one wants to be the one caught crying at their desk, and no one wants to be ‘overly-emotional,’ a belittlement used as much to distinguish difference as to diminish capacity to succeed. Yet here sat 180 leaders in architecture, business, education, engineering, philanthropy and community development who unabashedly shared their capital ‘T’ Truth, with not a blemish nor embarrassment spared.
I’ve spent a lot of time marinating over my life’s decisions, and this past year has opened a chasm of experiences that I often tried to forget. Sometimes it feels as if my every value is under siege, and sometimes I simply cannot bear to read one more divisive story. Yet on one Friday in May, I was reminded that there is a space for honesty and nuance and unfettered respect for the accomplishments of others, even (and especially if) you hold different things sacred.
I could share some of Christy Uffelman’s strategies for success, or a bite of wisdom from the estimable Karen Abrams, Olivia Benson, Caren Glotfelty, Nicole Muise-Kielkucki, or Joylette Portlock. I wouldn’t do them justice. So, on behalf of every advocate for sustainability, I would like to thank all of the bold, brave, and humble women who are changing the way we understand our city. You are upending expectations and charting new precedents, all while redefining who shapes our future. As a woman who has spun her words into an entire career, I am proud to say that I am speechless.