As National Women’s History Month comes to a close, I’m sharing the women who have influenced me the most throughout my life. I’ve divided them into two categories: Famous women and their immense impact, who I probably will never get to tell how much they’ve meant and the local women who are personal friends and role models.

Famous Women

Christine Blasey Ford – No one testifies before a Judiciary Committee confirming a Supreme Court nominee regarding sexual assault because they want to. For all of her nay-sayers, Ford’s courage in calmly telling a story that her detractors said had too many contradictions (apparently Kanaugh’s own contradictions didn’t matter) they would be wise to remember that sexual assault is unbelievably tramatic, for both women and men. For every person who has been a victim of this crime no matter what their age, Christine Blasey Ford is a my hero.

Lady Gaga – We too, share a common denominator in dealing with a chronic illness. Gaga has fought fibromyalgia, which like Crohn’s can be debilitating. She hasn’t let that keep her down becoming a world-renown singer, song writer, actress, chameleon, and cultural phenomenon. You rock girl.

Michelle Obama – Without a doubt, she is my idol. Michelle personifies everything I want to strive to be – grounded in equality for all, gracious, whip-smart, compassionate, community-oriented, funny, independent, beautiful, and embraces diversity, inclusion, and female empowerment. Malia and Sasha have an incredible role model. At her recent appearance at the 2019 Grammy Awards, Michelle shared her love of music, and the power it has to bring us together and heal our wounds. Being a music lover of all styles, I definitely appreciate our musical connection.

The Women of the U.S. Gymnastics Team – They overcame fear, threats, and vicious sexual assault to rise up and confront Larry Nassar, a serial sexual predator. They’re also holding USA Gymnastics accountable as the organization filed for bankruptcy in December 2018 due to dozens of lawsuits filed by many of these women. Time is way past being up.

Women Justices of the Supreme Court – Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayer are striving for justice and equality across the land. Although I frequently disagreed with her, former justice Sandra Day O’Connor also deserves a place among these gifted women.

Every Day Women

My Mom Louise – She has overcome numerous tragedies, survived two life-threatening illnesses, raised five kids, and came into her own as an independent women later in life. She turns 84 this month and is the tech savvy grandma (the whole gamut – iPad, iPhone, iWatch) and has garnered the respect her grand kids who communicate regularly with her via text and FaceTime. At 78, she insisted I learn to text and thinks everyone communicates via FaceTime. Love you, Mom!

Kathleen C. – A dear friend who has overcome adversity with dignity, grace, and poise to live life to the fullest. Plus, she possesses some of the funniest comeback lines I’ve ever heard.

Amanda H. – Another dear friend who is one of the kindest and sweetest people I have ever met. She can make me laugh really hard.

Chris O. – A friend and cancer survivor, she won that fight then went on to found her successful communications and PR firm. Her positive attitude and humor inspire me to overcome my own health issues.

Candace P. – She is another one of the most genuine, thoughtful people I’ve ever known. Experiencing hardship as well, she has risen above, always with a smile and affirmative attitude I truly admire.

Debra T. – Strong-willed, funny, sassy, she too has built a successful business, serving as a role model for other women.

The Women of the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation – Too many to name, I have had the privilege of working with these outstanding women, dedicated to making the St. Paul community and world a much more decent place. Thank you!

Every one of these remarkable women have inspired and influenced me to be a better person.

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