A Message From The President

October 2023

Power. I’ve noticed it makes some people uncomfortable, especially, women.

The notion of “power” and the discomfort some may feel is likely due to the various power structures we’ve experienced in our lives. We seem to be more comfortable with influence than power. One perhaps seems gentle or subtle, while the other seems forced.

I’m reminded of the different “influencers” I’ve worked with as a PR professional and while many have undeniable amounts of influence over people of all ages, powerful is not something some of them may consider themselves. Further, influence is embraced and power is rejected.

But as we watch our local, regional and national leaders exercise their power (and influence), I wonder what it would be like for us to reframe what power is. Not to be “empowered”; we don’t need anyone to give it to us. Some women are already powerful. But we need to actually step into positions to lead and re-introduce what true power is to those around us. Appreciate the variety of ways women show up ~ in full emotion ~ to give a damn.

I recall a conversation with fellow Athenian, Katie Crombe ~ her title is: Chief, Joint Operational War Plans Division. So, she knows a thing or few about conflict and how to resolve (and avoid) them. She said: “Women have the unique ability to form enduring connections in pursuit of peace and progress. Women leaders are integral in addressing the globe’s most pressing challenges, together they can tackle these problems, setting us on a path to a better future for the next generation.” Why? Because we (women) seek win-win solutions.

The way women lead often taps into empathy, creativity and observation that is frequently under-appreciated under patriarchal “norms.” However, this different style of leadership and power achieves different results. This way is open, inclusive, solutions-oriented, collaborative and ultimately, more powerful.

Athena’s position on “Women in Government” is being addressed by the CAC as we encourage members not only to run for advisory boards, but also to run for office. More Athena women stepping into positions of power will only benefit all of us. When you look around our membership ~ from the school board to the Senate – how can we continually plug our members into positions of power to help us the achieve the results we want in the areas of: affirmative action, choice, day care, diversity and inclusion, early childhood development, educational funding, indigent health care, gun safety, pay equity, racial equity and justice, sexual harassment, violence prevention, and of course, the Equal Rights Amendment.

And if we’re not up for running for office or a board position (non-profit or for-profit), remembering how allyship is equally powerful is important. This involves sharing resources, opening doors, lifting up the names of women even when they aren’t present or in the room and remembering the value of one another as we build coalitions and make suggestions and recommendations.

I hope that we, as an organization, continue to strive toward redefining what power in our community (in various areas and industries), and someday in our society, looks like. That our ability to show up differently, perhaps even the expectation to do so, will be what moves us forward and into the future.

Nancy Vaughn