Women of Medina County are changing the world!
That was the message I got this week at the 19th annual 2010 Women of Distinction Award Luncheon, presented by the YWCA.
As a recipient of the honor last year, I attended to support and welcome a new class of outstanding women. The luncheon, held at Weymouth Country Club, praised the efforts of 12 women with ties to Medina County to improve the world around them.
These very accomplished women have done such things as raising money for free cancer screenings for women in need, recruiting and retaining businesses in Medina County, coordinating Thanksgiving dinners for families in need, organizing the Medina County Farmers’ Market, overseeing the fiscal health of the Salvation Army of Medina Corps, managing major sales accounts for a typically male industry, increasing the availability of food and resources for the Medina County Food Coalition, founding a community Web site to publicize the events and activities of nonprofits, and more.
In her keynote address, local lawyer Patricia Millhoff, who also is the director of women’s studies and an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Akron, urged women to find their passion in life and go for it. “We all have a Lilly in us,” she said, referring to Lilly Ledbetter, the Goodyear Tire & Rubber production supervisor who found out that she was being paid far less than men doing the same job. Ledbetter sued Goodyear and the case went to the Supreme Court, which said Goodyear did not have to award her damages because the statute of limitations had expired. Lilly’s beef was that she did not know about the pay inequity until long after she had accepted the job and therefore could not have known her rights were violated until long after the 180-day statute of limitations had expired.
She then took her case to Congress, and the resulting legislation, known as the “Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009,” became the first legislation signed by President Obama. The bill changes the statute of limitations to a clock that restarts with every paycheck received.
“I want us all to walk out of here singing ‘I’m a Lily, you’re a Lily,’” Milhoff joked.
Secondly, she urged the women to remember it takes a village to raise a woman. She urged women to rely on those around them, by developing friendships with other women outside of a work environment. “If you don’t have girlfriends, get some,” she said.
Thirdly, Milhoff encouraged women to take time to be in awe of the world around them. She admitted to not being a churchgoer, but said she often finds herself gazing in wonder at the beauty of nature, often from the seat of her newly acquired Harley Davidson motorcycle.
Milhoff urged attendees to take a chance and chase a curiosity, because you never know where it might lead. She told the story of being on vacation in Guatemala and walking past a heavily guarded fortress of sorts, which turned out to be the women’s prison. She walked, in her flipflops and shorts, past the armed guards, knocked on the door, and said she wanted to volunteer there. Now she makes frequent trips to that country to do numerous good deeds, including work at the prison.
“Sometimes you just never know what might happen when you take a chance,” she said.
These are the women who, because of their ingenuity, courage and perseverence, have taken that chance — and succeeded:
- Sandra Baker, Medina
- Judy Daugherty, Medina
- Bethany Dentler, Medina
- Susan Farschman, Lagrange
- Janet George, Wadsworth
- Susan Hirsch, Shaker Heights
- Capt. Sienna Jackson, Medina
- Cynthia McQuown, Seville
- Joannie Neff, Spencer
- Diane Riley, North Royalton
- Judy Smith, Medina
- Kim Wilson, Medina
Thank you for being good examples of what we women can do!