“Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.” – Sheryl Sandberg
This week marks a historic occasion in the history of Champaign, as a new mayor was sworn into office on Tuesday night.
That alone is historic. It’s even more groundbreaking when that new mayor is a woman – only the second female mayor in the 150-plus year history of our fine city – and a mom of two.
Congratulations, Deb Feinen. What a Mother’s Day this will be for you.
Mayor Feinen’s election is the proverbial feather in the cap for our community, which features more female leaders than you can shake a stick at.
OK, enough with the cliches. The fact of the matter is, our community is somewhat unique in the number of women in significant leadership positions, both appointed and elected.
Think about it.
Our twin cities now both have women mayors, Laurel Prussing at the helm in Urbana for 10 years. The city manager of Champaign is Dorothy David. Our community’s economic engine – the University of Illinois – is headed by Chancellor Phyllis Wise, a dynamic leader and the first Asian-American woman to lead a major American research university.
Our state’s attorney (Julia Rietz), county board chair (Pattsi Petrie), and circuit clerk (Katie Blakeman), state representative (Carol Ammons), and county manager (Deb Busey). Not to mention the superintendent of our community’s largest school district (Unit 4’s Judy Wiegand) and the CEO of our United Way (Sue Grey). Just to name a few.
A few weeks ago I attended the Chancellor’s Academic Professional Excellence Awards ceremony. All six awardees – women.
So why point this out? Why is this important?
This is a way different landscape of leadership than existed just five years ago.
Fast forward to 2015 in Champaign-Urbana, more women have a more significant voice at the table. It’s not aspirational. It’s achieved.
Sure, there’s more work to be done. The private sector lags behind, as is the case across the country.
But here in Champaign-Urbana, we have a lot for which to be proud. And a lot to look forward to in the future, as our girls have role models right in front of them.
Laura Weisskopf Bleill is the mom-in-chief of chambanamoms.com, and had excellent executive leadership skills as a child (Read: Bossy). You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org