More words of wisdom for 2023, finding your voice
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JANUARY 9, 2023
Hello, and happy Monday! This week we’re running the second half of our collection of guest columns that feature ideas, hopes and other things to keep in mind for women’s advancement and gender equity in 2023. If you missed the first half, no worries — you can find all of the columns on our website.

Also in this week’s newsletter is Suzanna de Baca’s latest Leading Fearlessly column, which features words of wisdom from Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame honorees, and another one of your fearless moments.

Have a great week!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

In 2023...
Advice, words of wisdom, hopes for Iowa women in new year
To usher in the new year, we asked more than a dozen women who live across the state to write about their hopes, dreams, and things to keep in mind for women’s advancement and gender equity.

Together, their columns provide a holistic view into the various barriers, experiences and challenges that women face. Topics featured in their submissions include women in leadership, supporting small business owners, self-care, higher education, women in political office, self-advocacy, maternal health and mental health.

Enjoy, and happy New Year!

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor

Let’s prioritize joy, rest and action | By Courtney Reyes
We. Must. Rest. We have to say no to commitments that do not align with our values because we must keep showing up for those targeted in our community. If we have power and privilege, we need to use it for good. Together, as a collective, we can make a change.

A Q&A with Debi Durham | Submitted by Iowa Economic Development Authority/Iowa Finance Authority
There’s a quote on the white board in my office: "A good leader inspires people to have confidence in their leadership; a great leader inspires people to have confidence in themselves." My style is about empowering and investing in people to become leaders themselves.

We know that investment in higher education pays off – for all genders | By Rachelle K. Keck
Women are currently earning 60% of college degrees at all levels. Only 37% of male high school graduates attend college, compared with 44% of females. Despite recent trends, college degrees will remain valuable. By 2031, 72% of jobs will require post-high school education. A bachelor’s degree or higher will be required for 43% of all jobs and 66% of higher-paying jobs.

We must help each other work toward financial empowerment | By Marcie Ordaz
Women and girls make up half of the world’s population, yet we still need laws to supplement gaps in basic human rights because of barriers that slow the progression of women in life, including financial health. Understanding such barriers can help identify solutions.

We must work to address the maternal health crisis | By Dr. Edith Parker
Achieving improved maternal and child health outcomes in Iowa will require coordinated and sustained efforts from health care providers, policymakers, community stakeholders and families, including steps to better understand and address the factors that contribute to the significant disparities we see in Iowa in maternal well-being.

We should all be asking ourselves, ‘What’s right with me?’ | By Christine Her
I care about what happened to you, but I believe we are more than our traumas. I also believe our healing is tied to each other. So I won’t ask you what happened. Instead, I want to know who you want to be. What’s giving you hope today? What’s right with you?

Employers must invest in programs that help women of color reach their full potential | By Claudia Schabel
As of 2020, women of color only made up 18% of entry-level positions, but their representation at work is projected to increase rapidly in the decades to come. Organizations need to critically assess their own workforces before determining which strategies to develop and implement for helping women of color succeed in the long term.

Insights from Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame honorees on finding your own authentic voice
From left: Dianne Bystrom, Mary Chapman, Mary O'Keefe and Mary Swander.
"When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard nor welcomed. But when we are silent we are still heard, so it is better to speak." - Audre Lorde

As a young woman, I was often hesitant to speak out, concerned that I would not be taken seriously or would be dismissed. I was fortunate to have many strong female role models around me to turn to for inspiration. At other times, I looked to women in the news or from history and found courage by learning about their journeys and reading their words.

Luckily, we have a rich legacy of pioneering and accomplished women right here in Iowa who provide plenty of inspiration. Some of these women have been recognized in  the Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame, established in 1975 by the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women to highlight women’s heritage and recognize their contributions. While some of the honorees were given this award posthumously, many of these exemplary women are still active leaders who continue to motivate and support other women.

I turned to a few of these Iowa Women’s Hall of Fame honorees and asked them, "Why is it so critical for women to find their own authentic voices and speak up?"

Dianne Bystrom, director emerita, Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, Iowa State University: Finding one’s authentic voice and learning to speak up is key to a woman’s ability to advocate for herself; her ideas; her family; and for others in her workplace, the organizations in which she belongs, and ultimately the larger community. If women don’t use their voices to advocate for themselves and others, they not only decrease their ability to achieve the success they deserve but also their potential to make a positive impact in their professional and personal networks. By speaking up, women serve as role models and advocates for other women to effect positive change in often gendered environments.

Mary Chapman, vice president emeritus/ambassador, Des Moines Area Community College: In my sphere of influence, I am mentoring and building a community of leaders who reflect hope, fairness, inclusion and the kind of future where current and future generations can be all that they can be, without barriers of bigotry and the family of isms. A powerful tool in creating change when addressing inequities and injustices is having courage to find your own voice and speak up. It is essential that you tell your story because if you don’t, others will tell it for you.

Mary O’Keefe, retired chief marketing officer, Principal Financial Group; owner, A&E Balm Co.: First, there's finding your voice. It takes listening – to yourself and others – observation, learning, maturing. For me, finding my voice wasn't the hardest thing to do. Maybe having 10 siblings helped with that. And my personality. Sometimes my mom called me "Mrs. Fullcharge." Sometimes I have to turn my volume down. And you don't find your voice once. Through your life, different roles, ups, downs, stages, constantly developing new perspectives changes your voice. Then, use your voice effectively.  

Mary Lynch Swander, artistic director, Swander Woman Productions; executive director, AgArts: Women are intelligent and creative, yet their opinions have been long ignored and suppressed. Women make up half of the population and have become lulled into thinking their ideas are unimportant. Speak up, speak out. Women deserve to have their voices heard!
Left: Sen. Patty Murray. Center: Chief Justice Susan Christensen. Right: U.S. House Clerk Cheryl Johnson.
In the headlines
Sen. Patty Murray of Washington state was elected Senate president pro tempore last week, becoming the first woman to hold the job since its inception. Murray, who was elected to the Senate in 1992 as a self-proclaimed "mom in tennis shoes," was selected for the role after Sen. Dianne Feinstein declined to seek it. In recent years, the job has gone to the senior-most member of the majority party.

The Iowa Supreme Court has re-selected Justice Susan Christensen as chief justice for another two-year term. Christensen is the second woman to serve as chief justice of Iowa’s highest court, and was appointed to the court by Gov. Kim Reynolds.  

As members of the U.S. House of Representatives struggled to elect Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House Speaker last week, the person controlling the chamber was University of Iowa graduate Cheryl Johnson, who, as the house clerk, has presided over the voting process. Johnson was born in New Orleans and graduated from UI with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication.

Military personnel are now eligible for 12 weeks of parental leave, doubling the previous amount, after a memorandum from the Department of Defense took effect last week. The leave is available for birthing and nonbirthing parents, as long as they have been in active or reserve duty for at least a year.

L’Oreal is releasing a new device that aims to help individuals with limited hand and arm mobility to more easily apply makeup. HAPTA will be available this year and will first launch as a lipstick applicator.

Walgreens and CVS have said they plan to offer mifepristone, one of two medications used to end a first-trimester pregnancy, following new guidance from the Food and Drug Administration. Until December 2021, mifepristone could be dispensed in person only with the supervision of a certified clinician. The impact is also likely to be limited to states where abortion within the first trimester — which ends at 13 weeks — remains legal. Patients are still required to have a prescription.

The Diocese of Des Moines will enact new "gender identity policies" for the Des Moines-area Catholic churches and schools, which include barring the use of "preferred pronouns" and requiring the use of a bathroom that matches their biological sex. The policies will apply to all church employees, personnel, volunteers and others who work at parishes, schools, organizations and institutions.

Worth checking out
Five policy priorities to improve maternal health in Iowa (Bleeding Heartland). What disabled people know about making better New Year’s resolutions (Washington Post). ‘I want to have a kid, but I don’t want to Be A Mom’ (This F**king Job Substack). They say it’s lonely for women at the top. These two CEOs and best friends never felt that way (Fortune). Snoop Dogg says he was once given an intervention by legendary singer Dionne Warwick over misogynistic lyrics (Insider).
Your fearless moments
Storytelling is a powerful tool to help break down stigmas, build community and encourage empathy.

Every year, we share stories of fearlessness through the Business Record in part because we believe it’s our duty not just to report on what somebody does, but also to share about who they are.

We believe everyone has a story to share, so we encouraged readers to submit their own moments of being fearless. Their responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

We're featuring one story below, and throughout the year we'll be sharing more. You can find all of the fearless moments on our website.

– Emily Kestel, Fearless editor
Scott Haugh, chief financial officer, American Enterprise Group
I left a graduate program in English after eight years to pursue a career as an actuary. Leaving academia for corporate America seemed very traumatic to me at the time. I had to set aside a lot of regret, anxiety and disappointment in myself to move forward and embrace uncertain prospects. At the same time that I was trying to be fearless, I was convinced that I was choosing a safe, less riskier path (financially speaking) and turning my back on my true self.

My 2022, in everyday photos
At the end of 2019, I began feeling as though my life was like fistfuls of sand that were quickly sliding through my fingers. Time was moving so fast, and I wasn’t taking time to slow down and appreciate the small moments in my life. So to kick off 2020, I started a personal project to document these details. I decided to call it #everydayeveryday — a pretty straightforward title to describe my goal to take a photo of an everyday moment in my life, every day. (I used the hashtag because I was also frequently posting them on social media.)

There were so many "Kodak moments" I lived through this year: moving into a house, visiting new National Parks, going on my first solo multiday out-of-state camping trip, and my in-laws getting a golden retriever puppy, just to name a few.

The big events and milestones that happen are certainly great, but for me, it's the small, everyday moments – picking wildflowers, watching the sun come up, making violet jelly with my dad, watching planes land, finding a leaf with a smiley-face-shaped hole in it, finding cool ice patterns, feeling a warm breeze through your hair – that make for a joyful life.

With that, please enjoy my visual journal of 2022 (or at least my favorites).

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