Pat Breme, RCE, CIPS
Chief Executive Officer
To honor Women’s History Month, I offer these reflections. Over a lifetime you meet people who influence your values and viewpoints and often shape your choices.
I graduated from college in 1968 when women’s rights were the core of a very vocal, in-your-face movement. The rebel rousers were Betty Freidan, Gloria Steinem and Shirley Chisholm.
Freidan rocked the country with her book The Feminine Mystique, where she described the plight of college educated women who felt trapped and unfulfilled because career opportunities were largely limited to nursing, teaching or secretarial work.
The message of Friedan, who organized NOW (National Organization for Women), was expanded by others, Gloria Steinem and Germaine Greer who believed that political inequality has personal implications regarding sexuality, birth control, abortion, roles in marriage, housework and childcare.
Then there was Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress. She was a fierce spokesperson for woman’s rights. Her autobiography Unbossed and Unbought perfectly captured her feisty attitude.
Some of the milestones of the movement were outlawing gender discrimination in education and college sports, obtaining financial credit, and banning discrimination against pregnant women in the workforce. There were many who marched for equality in wages and equal opportunities for placement and promotions in business.
Over the past 30 years, there have been significant accomplishments. Rape crisis centers and health centers and women’s shelters providing specialized services came into existence.
We stand on the shoulders of women’s liberation advocates, as well as modern day trailblazers like Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and others.
The movements of today are MeToo, addressing sexual assault and harassment in the workplace, and the Time’s Up, which focuses on creating economic opportunities, safety and income equality for women in the workplace. Young women are finding a voice of their own in groups they identify with- color, sexual preference, gender preference, career choices, or other options.
However, in this country we can’t claim success unless we are also helping suppressed women around the world. In some countries, there has been no progress. Women are not educated; they are chattel of their husbands.
I stand on the shoulders of those women in association management who have elevated the position of executive secretary to CEO through hard work and showing value.
I stand on the shoulders of many FAAR women Presidents who have influenced me and taught me to be a servant leader, the value of collaboration, the advantage of listening before speaking and viewing situations from another’s point of view.
They shaped my thinking and ultimately shaped my style of management. Of the many who impacted my career, I comment on four who were significant role models for me…
Melanie Thompson, who can with precision, analyze an issue and cut through the nonsense
Suzy Stone, understands that volunteerism is the essence of being a servant leader
Sherry Bailey, always demonstrates the upmost composure in the most difficult situations
Gayle Elliott, she taught to take the time to have conversations with unlikely people
In my personal life, I must add-
My mother, she taught me to stand up for myself
My sister Barbara, whose sheer determination created successful businesses
My fourth-grade teacher, she taught me coordination in fashion
My daughters-in-laws and girlfriends, envelop me in love and keep me humble
Thank you to all FAAR women from 1957 to the present who have succeed in their careers, nurtured families and made a difference in the community. Lastly, but never least, I am grateful for the staff of seven women who I work with every day. They are servant leaders. They are innovative, collaborative and are perfect examples of the power of women in business.