Speakers Add Sparkle to EWG Summit
EWG’s Eighth Annual Summit and Training Conference held March 29, 2011, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, was a day filled with insights and laughter, networking, and mentoring, thanks to high powered speakers, lively attendees and a menu and venue to match.
Former U.S. Representative Jane Harman was recently selected as CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She broke barriers and brought bi-partisan ethics to her posts.
Women leaders from throughout government enjoyed the opportunity to network and learn.
Linda Tarr-Whelan, named one of the most powerful women in Washington, autographed copies of her book, Women Lead the Way.
A capacity crowd of women from all across government listened as a series of accomplished women leaders shared their experiences--including a U.S. Representative and think tank CEO, foundation board member, media star and author, U. S. Treasurer, Director of the Women’s Bureau, Former Ambassador and management consultant, personal finance expert, overseas investment experts, woman’s museum founding member, and one of the top 50 most powerful women in Washington.
The speakers shared their own struggles and challenges and how they rose to success in a male world. They paid homage to the women leaders who paved the way and brought life to the conference theme, “Our History is Our Strength.”
Eighth Annual Summit and Training Conference
Recognizes “Our History, Our Strength”
A capacity crowd of over 200 federal female leaders attended the Executive Women in Government’s (EWG) Eighth Annual Summit and Training Conference on March 29, 2011, at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The theme of the conference, which traditionally mirrors the theme for Women’s History Month, was “Our History is Our Strength.”
Elizabeth Cotsworth, President of EWG, opened the conference extending a warm welcome to the attendees. Cotsworth recognized Board members and thanked sponsors. She invited EWG members to get involved by joining committees and invited others to join. She added a special thanks to Summit organizer MaryLouise Uhlig and Co-chairs Chris Tirpak and Jeuli Bartenstein,.
The Summit is EWG’s “flagship event” according to Uhlig, Associate Administrator for Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention at the Environmental Protection Agency and a Past President of EWG. “It’s critical that women today recognize those who have gone before them and who opened the doors that allow all of us to be where we are today,” Uhlig, told the audience. “A colleague of mine said there is a new golden rule as it applies to women. We need to do unto ourselves as we do unto others. I think that’s brilliant because what it means is as women, we’re always taking care of someone, whether its our family, whether its people in the office.”
Uhlig encouraged the attendees to enjoy the speakers, the food, and the ambiance and to reach out to at least three other women during the conference to expand their network and help mentor others.
Conference Chair MaryLouise Uhlig presents
an EWG Star to speaker Linda Tarr-Whelan.
Jane Harman, the first speaker, was recently named as the CEO of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars after stepping down in February as U.S. Representative for the 36th District of California. Harman served in Congress almost continuously since 1993 with a brief hiatus in 1998 when she ran in the gubernatorial race.
Harman shared stories from her own past and paid homage to her good friend Geraldine Ferraro, the first female vice presidential candidate, who passed away March 26, 2011. “The thing about Gerry that was so significant, at least to me, was that in addition to being a great, fast girlfriend, was that she was fearless,” Harman said.
Harman graduated from Smith College in 1966, which she called “a great incubator for uppity women.” She was at Harvard Law School “in the dark ages when there were very, very few women.” The year she graduated, in 1969 at the height of the Vietnam War, was the first year that the school insisted that law firms interviewing students on campus had to interview women as well a men. “And, all of a sudden, women got jobs. What a miracle. I think they hire women in larger numbers than men now, and realize how capable women attorneys are,” she said
Harman broke down a number of barriers for women early in her career. “I was chief council of the senate judiciary subcommittee on constitutional rights, big, big deal. Senator John Tunney became chairman after Senator Sam Ervin who you know your great grandmothers will have heard of. He was of Watergate fame and a marvelous, very smart guy from North Carolina. So Tunney had this idea, well you’re chief council and I’m chairman, we ought to go visit the chief justice of the Supreme Court. So I called Warren Burger and got us an appointment and got us ushered in. I am a member of the Supreme Court bar, but never mind. Ushered in through chandeliered room after chandeliered room, we finally get to the inner sanctum. There's Warren Burger, looking like he was sent from central casting. Nobody looked that good. Only thing funny, he had his robe on and mane of white hair and he has hush puppy shoes, little off, but hey. So he takes a look at me and his mouth opens and he says ‘oh, when you said you were bringing your chief council I expected someone, um, someone bigger.”
Harman concluded her remarks by saying, “ let me just say, in memory of Gerry Ferraro and to a group of mostly women, I hope you have set yourself high goals. Your future doesn’t fall out of a tree--you make your own future. Sometimes it’s really daunting, sometimes it’s really wonderful, but in the end I am absolutely persuaded that our great country will be greater because of the professional contributions of women.”
Lee Woodruff, author of Perfectly Imperfect: A Life in Progress, Bob Woodruff Foundation board of trustees’ member, and Life & Family contributor for ABC’s Good Morning America, talked about how she and her family coped after her husband Bob Woodruff, the ABC anchor, was critically injured in Iraq. “I think that as so many of you know, especially in a room full of women, things just happen in life that are completely unexpected. If I had the chance to talk to all of you, you would all have a story.”
Her story, she said is “the story of going through a life. In the end, it’s really not about the details of the story. It’s how you choose to respond and how you choose to move through the world with grace.”
An older woman once told her, “When a bad thing happens in life, you really have two choices. You can get bitter or you can get better, she said. And nobody wants to be a bitter old lady. And I thought that’s going to be my phrase, every day can’t be Doris day, right?”
In the midst of crisis, Woodruff learned to appreciate miracles large and small. “Bob was hit immediately. Rocks went all around his face. In one of those miracles, it went around his eyes but didn’t perforate the eyeball. One rock, the size of a child’s marble, almost a quarter, went through his neck and passed all the way across his neck and came to rest but did not perforate the carotid artery clear on the other side of his neck. That rock would be a problem and we would ultimately get it out at the hands of really skilled surgeons here at Bethesda Naval Hospital. But in another miracle, one doctor said to me think about all that valuable real estate, your esophagus, your voice box, your trachea, you swallow, you eat, you talk, you breath, that rock touched none of that. There are no explanations for that.”
To help war veterans, including those with forms of brain injury, whether post traumatic stress or combat stress or the guys with the scar that runs from the front to the back of their head, the Woodruff’s established their Foundation to help individuals recover and return to private life.
“But in the grateful aftermath of our family’s collective sorrow, I tell myself that my kids have learned more from the difficulties and the hardships they’ve witnessed and endured than they ever would have otherwise. Five years after Bob’s injury and we’ve all come out the other side, each member of my family. We are all unexpected experts at surviving. We’re no different than so many American families. We’ve acquired scars, opened our eyes, we’ve grown and stretched, ached and rejoiced. We’ve felt loss keenly and we’ve counted our many blessings. None of us will ever underestimate the power of love, family, faith, friendship and the resilience of the human spirit.”
Kerry Hannon, a nationally acclaimed personal finance contributing editor for U.S. News & World Report, Finance Expert on PBS Nightly Business Report, and author of What’s Next: Follow your Passion and Find Your Dream Job, said the common theme throughout her book and the people she talked about in the book was inspiration. “And, I think what happens when people move on to their second act in life and in their career is usually an inspiring choice.”
According to Hannon, Baby Boomers no longer see retirement as golf courses and sitting on the couch. People are healthier and living longer, and see work—perhaps different work—as more fulfilling than leisure. They also realize that they may not be able to retire financially. Working after the primary career is the new norm for retirement, she said.
In her book, Hannon lists 10 questions to ask yourself before making a career or life change. She said it’s important to get financially and physically fit. When you’re looking at a new direction, it’s important to educate yourself by doing your homework and getting the needed skills. See what the local university has to offer, Hannon suggests. It’s important to like what you’re doing. But it’s all about planning before you leap from your regular job to a new career.
Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) Panel was moderated by Joan Michelson, an award winning media correspondent and consultant and was composed of OPIC’s Mimi Alemayehou, Executive Vice President, and Judith Pryor, Vice President of External Affairs. OPIC, created over 40 years ago during the Nixon Administration, supports U.S. business investment in emerging markets worldwide. According to Alemayehou, OPIC ‘s loan products range from $1 million to $250 million. They get their biggest bang for the buck from micro finance loans to women in emerging countries. “It doesn’t have to be a loan to build a power project,” she said. “Even a small loan to build a well can have a huge impact on women and children. No longer do they have to walk for hours for clean water. Now the children can go to school. If they have electricity, they can study at night.” These projects can spur a whole new culture and economy when people in emerging countries get basic necessities such as clean water that frees up their time to work and study.
Pryor stated that OPIC reaches out to other women by conducting workshops for women and minorities to help them expand their businesses abroad. They ask sister organizations to participate in these outreach activities.
OPIC Panel Moderator Joan Michelson with
speakers Judith Pryor and Mimi Alemayehou
Rosa Rios, U.S. Treasurer since 2009, said her position is the second oldest position in the administration, established in 1777, right behind the Presidency itself. “So, I take that responsibility very, very seriously,” she said. Rios pointed out that women are playing an important role in the economic recovery. About a year ago, she told her boss that four out of six of the heads of economic agencies are women for the first time ever. “And so when you think about Mary Shapiro at the SEC, Sheila Bair at the FDIC, Christina Romer and the Council of Economic Advisors, Elizabeth Warren and the Congressional Oversight panel, it is really just a very unique point in time that no one was realizing was actually happening.”
“During this very critical recovery process, it happens to be women at the helm, mostly women at the helm,” Rios said. With the backing of her boss, Rios put together a symposium, featuring some of the great women in the area of finance. She assembled a collection of 21 photos of women who were working in Treasury between 1974 through the 1900s. Those photos are still on display in the corridor near her office to serve as a reminder of the important role that women have played in the United States’ financial history.
Joan Bradley Wages, founding Board Member and President of the National Women’s History Museum, told the audience that she believed “women need to be honored.” She talked about the genesis for the Women’s History Museum and the struggle to have women heroes recognized on Capital Hill. In 1921, a statue of three suffragettes made out of seven tons of white marble, was dedicated in the Capitol Rotunda. The all-male Congress quickly had it moved to the basement in a storage closet called the crypt. In 1995, some women lobbied to have it moved back to the Rotunda, but failed in their effort because the men in the Congress said that it was too heavy. Karen Stacer heard about that effort and started another effort to have it moved. That time, Newt Gingrich said they didn’t have money to move it. Sadly, a female representative opposed giving the statue more prominence saying the women were “too ugly.” Eventually, they were successful and the statue was moved to the Rotunda on Mothers Day, 1997. Of the 214 statues on display in the Rotunda, only 17 are of women.
Today, Wages is working on an effort to get legislation re-introduced in Congress to establish the museum in a building at 12th Street and Independence Avenue. Legislation was introduced and passed by the House on a voice vote and also in the Senate in Committee. The bill had to be reintroduced because two male senators put it on hold and time ran out. Undaunted, Wages and others are creating regional councils to help plan the museum. They enlisted the support of actress Meryl Streep, who donated $1 million of her own money to the project.
“So much of women’s history is not available to us. If we had known about the women upon whose shoulders we stand, it would have changed the course of history--your history,” Wages said.
Joan Bradley Wages
Sara Manzano-Diaz, is the Director of the Women’s Bureau at the U.S. Department of Labor, the only federal agency exclusively mandated to serve and promote the interests of women. The Women’s Bureau was created 90 years ago, two days before women got the vote.
Equal pay was an issue back in the 1920s, said Manzano-Diaz, as it is today. Only 20 percent of women worked then compared to 60 percent today. “Not being paid the same amount of money not only stops you from getting what you want, but it has a cumulative effect by reducing retirement benefits,” she said. “Women still make 11 cents on the dollar less than men. That can mean hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime.”
As a young girl growing up Puerto Rican in the projects in New York City, Manzano-Diaz didn’t get much support from family or teachers to further her education, even though she got good grades at a good high school. Nevertheless, she applied to top colleges and was accepted at all of them. “The great thing about this country is that it doesn’t matter where you start, you, too, can follow your dream. Education is the great equalizer. If you can dream it, you can do it,” she exclaimed.
Manzano-Diaz said young girls should be encouraged to get the right education. “The higher paying jobs of tomorrow are green jobs, including in science, technology, engineering and math. Women need to be able to compete.”
Asked whether most of the new jobs that were being created after the financial crisis were going to men, Manzano-Diaz acknowledged that they were. But, she added, that most of those jobs are in construction and finance, which are traditionally jobs held by men. Women have a tendency to look for traditionally female jobs, which often are lower paying.
She mentioned a survey that was conducted asking young women if they thought about becoming an inventor. “Most said no. They replied they are creative, but don’t see the translation to being an inventor,” said Manzano-Diaz. “We need to encourage young women to learn science, math, engineering and technology,” she said, since those are the fields that spark invention.
Today, Manazno-Diaz said the Women’s Bureau is focusing on workplace flexibility, which she believes results in increased productivity and reduces absenteeism and turnover. It also allows people to continue their education. She also said they are shining a light on the issue of homeless female vets who are having a hard time integrating back into society.
Linda Tarr-Whelan, named one of the 50 most powerful women in Washington, is a premier expert on women’s leadership and author of Women Lead the Way: Your Guide to Stepping into Leadership and Changing the World. A Demos Distinguished Senior Fellow, Tarr-Whelan started her amazing career as a nurse, later becoming a management consultant, non-profit leader, and government official at the State, national, and international levels, including Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women. The Office of Personnel Management has made her book required reading for their Senior Executive Service Candidates.
Tarr-Whelan was fired on her first day of work as a nurse because she did not stand up when a doctor entered the room. She was attaching a patient’s IV at the time. From that day forward, her instinct for knowing what is important and acting in an ethical manner has propelled her career.
The first half of her book makes a business case for women in leadership positions. She cited a study by Goldman Sachs that said that if there were 30 percent more women on corporate boards, gross domestic product would grow by 30 percent.
“Women have a longer time horizon,” she said. Research conducted in France about which businesses did well looked at who in the company made the decisions. Those companies that had at least 30 percent women as board members did better. “Women are less risky, more collaborative, and team focused. Women don’t want to just work, they want to live a life that is more integrated,” she said
She also said that in any group, there must be at least 30 percent of women to get change accomplished. Women must have critical mass to open doors for other women. When there is only one woman in a position of authority, there is too much pressure to conform to the male model and not be viewed as different.
The second half of her book talks about what you can do to raise the confidence level of another women. “If you see a woman do a good job, tell her,” she encouraged.
“Women don’t negotiate for jobs or salaries very well, “ she said. When offered a new job or challenge, women will say don’t think they can do it with their family requirements, don’t know enough, or don’t have enough experience. Men, on the other hand, just take the new assignment. Tarr-Whelan said her mother told her that “when a door opens, go through. If you fail, you will learn from it.“ A male friend added another piece of advice, “If the door doesn’t open, kick it down.”
Tarr-Whelan decried the fact that federal employees are being criticized and appear to be under attack on the Hill and in the media. “Anyone who makes a decent salary and has benefits is a target,” she said. “I don’t want to see that happen. Talk to your neighbors and kids about what you do and why it makes a difference,” she advised.
The Annual Summit culminated with announcements for both business and pleasure. A number of exciting gift baskets, tickets to the Odyssey Cruise along Washington’s Potomac River, and cosmetics provided by Neiman Marcus were given away to participants whose names were drawn at random.
Gift basket winner
Neiman Marcus cosmetics gift bag winner
Odyssey cruise ticket winner
Marilyn Goode, Environmental Protection Agency, was the lucky winner of the drawing for the original artwork used for the program. Entitled “Renaissance Woman, the 14 x 11-inch mixed media collage is the work of artist Linda Durkee. Ms. Durkee has donated the artwork for several Summit programs.
New Officer Slate: Immediate Past President Peg Weir, who served as chair of the nominating committee, introduced the candidate slate for the new Board. They are (left to right): Tanya Hodge Mottley, Secretary; Paula Farrell, Treasurer; Betsy Smidinger, President; Carolyn Cole, Vice President; and Elizabeth Cotsworth, who will also serve on the Board next year as Immediate Past President. Weir said that members would receive a ballot via email to cast their vote.
l to r: Tanya Hodge Mottley, Secretary; Paula
Farrell, Treasurer; Betsy Smidinger, President;
Carolyn Cole, Vice President; and Elizabeth Cotsworth
Wounded Warrior Program: Annually, EWG participates in the Wounded Warrior program. Naomi Zeavin again led the fund raising effort to supply wounded veterans returning overseas with backpacks filled with essentials such as teeshirts, socks, underwear, toiletries, and a portable radio. Often, these young men return from overseas with no belongings. Receiving some personal items while at the hospital can be a morale booster. EWG members contributed over $1,400 at this year’s Summit, through donations and by exchanging old dollar bills for new dollar bills autographed by U.S. Treasurer and speaker Rosa Rios.
Naomi Zeaven and Ginny Sattler collected over
$1,400 for the Wounded Warrior Program.
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