by Angela White
If you think back to 30 years ago, 1983, what comes to mind in your life? For some of you reading this blog, it might be your birthday – or perhaps you were not yet welcomed into this world!
For me, 30 years ago was a time of great opportunity and change – a time where many doors were opening for me and a few were shutting with a harsh bang.
In 1983, I completed my freshman year of college at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College near Terre Haute, Ind.
For me, the first year at a women’s college was transformational. Never before had I been challenged, supported, and expected to be a leader as much as I had been at SMWC, and my life there was just beginning.
I would go on to graduate and then begin my philanthropic services career at my alma mater as the Director of Annual Giving in 1986. That was a major door opening for me – a door that I chose to walk through and launch my career path. All in all, I spent 12 years at SMWC as a student and as an advancement professional, and I became a lifelong daughter of the Sisters of Providence who have shaped and molded me throughout the years and whom I am proud to call a JGA client today.
Also, in 1983, we were celebrating the first year of Diet-Coke (goodbye Tab), and, for those of you who know me, I have been drinking it ever since!
As I was experiencing this new world of a women’s college, my mother died of breast cancer 30 years ago this month. Nothing can prepare you for that event, but I had the support and love of my women’s college family to hold me up and guide me over some very difficult days and years ahead.
Also, 30 years ago, women became 50% of the college graduates in the U.S. In Sheryl Sandberg’s new book, Lean In, she reflects on this and asks why it is that men still hold the vast majority of leadership positions in our country. She explores why women’s voices are still not heard equally, and she examines why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled.
I am proud of the Women’s Fund of Central Indiana for taking their own steps to help develop strong women for leadership roles in our community. Through their programs Options and Perspectives, the Women’s Fund is helping both young women just beginning their career and those of us already well into our careers, to grow and develop into philanthropic leadership roles.
As I read Lean In an reflect on the past 30 years, I am grateful for the role of a women’s college and strong women role models, and I am grateful for countless organizations that work in our communities to strengthen the roles of women and girls. And, of course, I am grateful for Diet-Coke!