Shaping Community Together

For the first time in history, we have a woman in the White House. After Hillary’s run, and after the Trump administration, quite frankly I was a bit numb to the event. I had almost nothing left to feel about the political events in the US, and then the morning of the inauguration came and every platform I subscribe to was flooded with images of Kamala Harris. Classy, confident and cool. Miraculously, I started to feel again. 

I reached out to as many women as I could that morning asking them to send me a photo of themselves with Kamala’s signature pearl necklace shot, I wanted to celebrate Fernie’s leadership. 

Within about ten minutes I realized I would never get to them all, so many women in Fernie are community builders, lady bosses, creatives, and women who just get it done. The truth is -in Fernie- there are not any glass ceilings to shatter. 

For me, it’s the charm of a ski town. Mountain culture and fierce women, it’s what I love the most, and also why I have a hard time jumping up and down about a female in the White House. Women in leadership is a normal part of our community, not a one off. 

India elected Indira Ghandi in 1966, the United Kingdom elected Margaret Thatcher in 1979. Pakistan elected Benazir Bhutto in 1988, Ireland elected Mary Robinson in 1990. Less than a month after 50 Muslim worshippers were shot in a mosque in Christchurch, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden was supported in passing a law that banned most semi-automatic weapons on her country. 

It would definitely appear that the US is late to the party, women in leadership is and should be a normal part of the composition of your country. 

Currently I am surrounded and supported by women in leadership, except I don’t see it like that. I am surrounded and supported by strong leaders, both men and women. In fact, when I get asked at events what it’s like to be a female in leadership I often laugh. Leadership is tough, period. One gender is not the architect of why leadership is tough, and one gender is not the owner of how tough it is. 

On this journey I am on, both men and women have reached for my hand, supported me, challenged me and pushed me to dig deeper. It is equally true, that both men and women have been cruel, causing me to have to dig deep. 

I feel extremely fortunate to know so many women who are working to support our community, who are working together, and who support one another. Madeline Albright, in a keynote speech Celebrating Inspiration, 2006 famously said, “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.” 

If I could, I would invite Ms. Albright to Fernie where we are positively full of women supporting women, or are we all simply working together to build and shape our community? I prefer the latter lens, because we are unstoppable when we create enough space at our tables for everyone to work together, and I think we do that extremely well in Fernie.