Recently I learned the story of Mabel Thorp Boardman and the American Red Cross. Female leadership and role model may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering the 1800 & 1900’s, however, Mabel’s story is a perfect example. Born in 1860, Mabel grew up in a period that did not support or encourage women in leadership positions. She became involved with the American Red Cross in 1900, accepted a seat on the executive committee and worked tirelessly to become the effective head of the organization in 1904. The term “effective or acting head” is used because Mabel acknowledged that during her time period, a man as a chairperson was necessary to maintain public confidence in the organization. The American Red Cross benefited greatly from Mabel’s concentrated efforts. During her time with the Red Cross, the endowment grew, new branches were established across the U.S, and the Red Cross developed into the first aid and disaster relief organization it is today.
Fast forward to 2020. I am grateful for the idea of women in leadership has progressed from taking a back seat and allowing a man to assume the head role, all while doing the hard work without the title. I acknowledge there is room for improvement. To my daughter, nieces, friends - be like Mabel. Find your passion. Find what fulfills you. Commit and don’t give up. The future generations of Mabels will thank you.
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