Women of Influence profiles, UI women leaders on gender representation
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Good morning and happy Monday!

We’re sharing words to live by from half of the Business Record’s 2022 Women of Influence this week. To read their full profiles, click on their names or their photos. We’ll share the other half next week.

Also running this week is a piece by Business Record Editor Emily Barske. Earlier this month, she spent a day in Iowa City talking with the top women leaders at the University of Iowa about gender representation, what advice they have for other women leaders and what barriers still need to be addressed in higher education.

We’re also rerunning Teresa Zilk’s Fearless profile, which was originally published last fall. Teresa is the founder of Stories to Tell My Daughter, which is a storytelling experience dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of Black women and other women of color. The event is happening this Sunday, July 31.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Meet five of the Business Record’s 10 Women of Influence
The Business Record's Women of Influence awards celebrate the work of women who have made a difference. They've devoted their lives to doing things most wouldn't. They've spent countless hours on various boards and they've blazed a trail either personally or professionally for other women to follow.

Now more than ever, we need leaders who operate with strength, resilience and empathy. The 2022 Women of Influence honorees exemplify these characteristics. Their stories of work both past and present are inspiring, especially in a time when we need role models who offer humility and thoughtfulness.

This year’s honorees dedicate time, resources and effort to businesses and community organizations. They lead in top roles at organizations large and not-so-large. They plan initiatives and strategies that are transforming Greater Des Moines and its citizens. They have earned multiple degrees. They come from different backgrounds. They have overcome challenges and embraced opportunities. They are not simply influential because of what they do or have done but also because of who they are.

This is the 23rd year the Business Record has honored inspiring and influential women. They’ve amassed a tremendous amount of experience and wisdom and showcased integrity, grace and intelligence. We hope their stories inspire you as much as they’ve inspired us.

— Emily Barske, Business Record editor

Anne Bacon, CEO, IMPACT Community Action Partnership

"When you work for big change, if someone’s not mad at you, you’re not doing it right."

Jessica Dunker, president and CEO, Iowa Restaurant Association/Iowa Hotel & Lodging Association

"There are two sides to every story, and the truth is somewhere in the middle."

Dr. Hayley Harvey, dental clinic section chief and director of dental education, Broadlawns Medical Center

"Everyone has the power for greatness, not for fame but greatness, because greatness is determined by service." — Martin Luther King Jr.

Trudy Holman Hurd, community champion

"What do we live for if not to make the world less difficult for each other?" — Mary Ann Evans (better known by her pen name George Eliot)

UI is a national leader for gender representation in leadership positions. What does that mean to those women leaders?
From left: Barbara Wilson, Sara Sanders, Julie Zerwic, Amy Kristof-Brown, Tanya M. Uden-Holman, Harriet Nembhard, Edith Parker.
One of our goals with Fearless is to connect with people across the state who share goals similar to our mission of empowering Iowa women to succeed in work and life. So far this year, we’ve stopped in the Quad Cities and Sioux City.

And for our next stop, we chose to spend some time in Iowa City.

Earlier this year the University of Iowa was recognized nationally for gender representation in leadership among top higher education institutions. The study by the Eos Foundation looked at representation in key positions, including the president and academic deans.

While in Iowa City, I sat down with some of the university’s female leaders to discuss gender representation, what advice they have for other women leaders and what barriers still need to be addressed in higher education.

The University of Iowa women leaders joining me were:
  • Barbara Wilson, president of the university.
  • Amy Kristof-Brown, Tippie College of Business dean.
  • Harriet Nembhard, College of Engineering dean.
  • Edith A. Parker, College of Public Health dean.
  • Sara Sanders, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences dean.
  • Tanya M. Uden-Holman, University College dean.
  • Julie Zerwic, College of Nursing Kelting dean.

Wilson is the third female president at the institution, which is rare in higher education, and was days away from being one year into the position at the time of the interview. At the university, women lead half of the academic units. All but Amanda Thein, the Graduate College dean, were able to join the Fearless conversation.

With female students making up more than half of the student body, representation makes a difference, Wilson said.

"I'm really proud that I'm not the first woman president of this university," Wilson said, adding that it eliminates some of the expectations of how she should act because she’s not the first woman to hold the role. "In a way it sort of lifts the burden of gender off of my leadership. … I've had many, many students say to me that it means a lot to them that the university has so many women leaders. It gives them a sense of possibility."

But there’s still work to do, the group acknowledged.

Kristof-Brown mentioned that the same study that ranked UI so high in gender representation also showed Iowa’s rank of tenured full professors was low. "I look at where we are now based on history, and it feels great," she said. "I look at the next five years and who the next set of women are that are going to be department chairs, who are going to step into associate provost roles or deanships, and that rank is thin right now. So to me, that's kind of a mobilizing effect to say if we want to keep this up and not let down the tradition that we have, we need to get moving at the higher levels in our faculty ranks."

The group described pressure to not only perform well as leaders but to represent all those who identify similarly when they are the first woman in a role or the first in a while. The glass cliff effect, which describes situations in which women are more likely to be appointed to leadership positions in times of uncertainty or when an organization isn’t performing well while men are more likely to be appointed to stable leadership positions, was also brought up.

In the headlines
  • For the first time in its 76-year history, the Navy’s Blue Angels aerial demonstration team will include a female pilot. Lt. Amanda Lee is expected to report to the team this fall.
  • Dartmouth College has selected its new leader, marking the first time a woman has been chosen to fill the role. Sian Leah Beilock, a cognitive scientist who researches performance under stress, will begin her term next July as the 19th president of the Ivy League institution.
  • Tickets are now on sale for the FemCity Beyond Business Conference. The inaugural conference aims to provide a platform for women and gender-nonconforming people to share their knowledge and businesses and connect with others.
  • The Women in Manufacturing Association will convene its second annual Moms in MFG virtual event on Aug. 11. Moms in MFG is an event series and year-round community focused on supporting mothers and caregivers who are working in manufacturing.
Worth checking out
Nurse midwives step up to provide prenatal care after two rural hospitals shutter birthing centers (Kaiser Health News). Two American women who found long-haul trucking as a means of escape and self-transformation (NPR Rough Translation podcast). Mikaela Shiffrin lost the Olympics but won the world (Elle). Meet the people who will answer '988' suicide prevention messages in Iowa (Des Moines Register).
TERESA ZILK: ‘I just get up every day and live my life’
Photo by Emily Kestel. Illustration by Kate Meyer.
Teresa Zilk is a mental health advocate and the founder of Stories To Tell My Daughter, which is a storytelling experience dedicated to centering the voices and experiences of Black women and other women of color. She is also the owner of Teresa Zilk Creative Consulting LLC. Originally from Arkansas, she and her family have lived in Des Moines for 20 years.

The following story has been formatted to be entirely in her own words and has been edited and condensed for clarity. This story mentions suicide and may be triggering to some.

I was 19 when I found out I was pregnant. I thought, "That can’t be right." But it was right. I remember being really scared because I knew my [adoptive] mother would be disappointed in me. I didn’t want to disappoint her. When I told her, she said, "This is not what I sent you to school for. I sent you to school to get an education."

I was raised by several women. Mostly, I was raised by my great-aunt Sweet. It wasn’t a perfect upbringing because I lived in so many homes. But they loved me. My birth mother was 15 when she had me. She couldn’t raise me. She was too young.

My great-aunt Sweet wanted me to know how to clean a house, how to shoot a gun and how to drive a car by the time I was 10 years old. She thought that you needed to know how to keep your environment clean, how to take care of yourself, how to defend yourself and that a car gave you a sense of independence ― that way nobody could hold you down.

One of the things that she taught me was to always respect the storm. You do that because that meant that God was doing his work. So during a thunderstorm, we would get really quiet. Anything electric was turned off. You couldn’t even talk on the phone. You sat in silence or you went to bed. During the storm, you rested. A storm was like medicine. Storms represented transformation.

When I think about my life, I’ve had a lot of storms. But I’m so thankful that my aunt gave me the wisdom to learn to get quiet and rest. Sometimes you have to listen to the storm and what the message is. We see storms as something of destruction, but the storm is medicine. The storm has a message.

When I was 8, my aunt Sweet died. There was nobody in our immediate family in Arkansas who could take care of my three brothers and me. We were going to become wards of the state but we ended up going to live with family in Chicago and were adopted.

There are certain perceptions people have about having a child out of wedlock. People chalk you up to be a statistic. I’m not a statistic.
Mental health days are important. Here’s how to make yours worthwhile.
This piece from the New York Times features submissions from readers who give ideas on what to do when you take a mental health day.

To give you a small taste of the ideas, here are my favorites from the sources in the story:

  • I usually take a mental health day because I need to just lay in bed all day and stare at the walls. The point is not what to do on these days or how to do it, but the sense of relief that comes from "I am OK beyond what I can do or produce. I am worthy and OK just because I am here."
  • Pull weeds in my yard. They don’t talk back, so it’s the perfect stress reliever. And the yard looks better when I’m done.
  • Starting in August, I began scheduling a once-a-month "play day" to do whatever I want. I usually take the bus/train into New York City to a museum, a park, window shopping, etc., walking as much as I can. I buy lunch (eating outdoors) and usually a decadent sweet treat to savor alone. I come home just after dinner hour (so that I don’t feel obliged to cook that day) feeling refreshed and ready for the next daily grind.
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