Grant Manager, Chambliss Center for Children
What is your favorite aspect of being a leader?
Giving. You lead by giving of your time and talents. The more you give, the more you grow as a professional.
What advice do you have for women aspiring to be leaders in their field?
When we stop learning, we stop growing. I would tell women to develop their skills in many areas and not just their particular field. Diversification is a skillset for this generation. You have to be multifaceted and flexible. We, as women have always worn different hats, but it’s important to learn new skills to stay current and relevant.
Can you name a person who has had a tremendous impact on you as a leader? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
My husband, Hollis has made a tremendous impact on me as a leader. Growing up in a single parent home, I did not know what a true father looked like or was supposed to actually do. My husband has been my rock, and most importantly been the leader of our home, spiritually, physically, and financially. He has shown our daughter what a true man and father is. He leads with his heart and gives his time and talent to those who need him while yet balancing his home and his career. I have learned to lead confidently by watching him lead and guide our children everyday for the past 23 years.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing female leaders today?
Moving past old mindsets and traditions is one of the biggest challenges I see in our society as a whole. Our roles have evolved, but we are generally still viewed as the weaker vessel incapable of positions that were traditionally held by men.
Approximately how many years have you been involved with CWLI and in what committees do you participate?
I have been involved with CWLI for 2 years now. I serve on the Membership and Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
What initiatives are you excited to tackle with CWLI?
I am excited to tackle Diversity & Inclusion. I feel that this area is a misunderstood topic that encompasses so much but needs to be approached with an open mind. To me, diversity & inclusion is more about respect and acceptance, than ethnicity, age, disabilities, national origin, education, religion and sexual orientation. Respecting “people or humans” for who they are and learning about what makes them the way that they are is what diversity means to me. We have more in common with people then differences. What’s on the inside is more important to me then what I see on the outside. For example, just because I’m an African-American, doesn’t mean that I eat fried chicken. I’m actually a vegetarian and owned a vegan bakery.
What changes do you hope to see in the organization as it grows?
I hope to see a more diverse group of women. I would like to see women, not just from the corporate side, but other fields such as construction or welding.
What strides do you think members can take to make more of a difference in women’s leadership issues in the local community?
I think we need to support those that are making a difference in our community. We have quite a few women running for office in our community. We need to reach out to them and see what support they need to help with these campaigns. I am not interested in running, but I am interested in the issues that they are tackling.
How would you best describe the benefit found in joining this organization?
There are really a number of benefits, but I will sum it up by saying that the organization is empowering. I am surrounded by women from different walks of life are breaking barriers and creating new paths for women like myself to tread. For me, just knowing that I have the support of this organization means more to me than anything. It’s great to be surrounded by women who will lift you up and listen, and that is priceless.
Want to get to know Mary? Read her feature here.