I’ve always been a joiner — Girl Scouts, 4H, Candy Stripers, FHA (honest to goodness, the group was called Future Homemakers of America and I have the decades-old hoodie to prove it). If there was a group of girls and young women coming together to make the world a better place, I wanted in. When you grow up in rural Minnesota in the ’70s and ’80s, you have to put a little extra effort into finding a place to be a woman on a mission, other than being on a mission to find a husband. Ugh. It’s those groups that get all the credit for my entrepreneurship and spirit of fighting the good fight. Here’s why:
I was a shy kid. Painfully, awkwardly, hopelessly shy. Unless I was hanging with my sisters and friends — then I could let my humor, willpower and brainpower shine. The day Mrs. Sederstrom, Marion, my high school Home Ec teacher encouraged me to run for FHA district office, I started to believe I could do something bigger than myself. FHA is now, thankfully, known as FCCLA, but their focus is pretty much the same — changing lives by giving students opportunities to participate in national conferences and programs, compete in competitive events and explore careers. I didn’t know that when I prepared for and won my bid for district president (if you’re not going to go big, why go at all?) that a foundation of leadership would support me throughout my life.
All because one woman believed in me, even when I didn’t know how.
I believe that elevating the conversation will change the face of women in technology and business leadership. I continue to seek out groups that empower women in business: Colorado C3E with a focus on women in clean energy and national orgs Women in Ag and Women in 3D Printing that lift us all. They speak to my heart and my interest in building a future where women can more easily climb to the top of the business ladder.
This week, as we prepare to attend the FIRST EVER all-woman 3D printing conference, TIPE | 2021, while basking in the glory of witnessing our first ever woman vice president being sworn into office, well, I’m thinking about Mrs. Sederstrom. That one woman who lifted me up.
The future looks brighter and kinder when built by women. Today, more than ever, that statement feels true and honest and hopeful.