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Springfield, MO

Opinion: Celebrate your own Most Influential Women

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Lead, impact, guide, influence – words that stood out as I sorted through the 20 profiles of this year’s Most Influential Women honorees. Between impressive career highlights, accolades, reference letters and the honorees’ own words, it’s easy to tell why they are joining this class of 360 Most Influential Women.

As I worked on the special section, I couldn’t help but think of my own “most influential women” – starting with my mother, Sheri, who was a Navy linguist in counternarcotics, caregiver for 13 years and is now the founder of a nonprofit benefiting veterans.

I think of grandmothers, great-grandmothers and great-great-grandmothers – strong, compassionate, brave, immigrant women. They were and are entrepreneurs, business owners, teachers, writers and more. Coming from such a line of influential women makes me proud.

I also have a sense of pride reading Springfield Business Journal’s Most Influential Women profiles. Not only are these stories of progress in Springfield, but also evidence of a cultural shift.

Caring, empathy, compassion – more words that stood out. Honoree Bontiea Goss, chief operations officer of Preferred Family Healthcare Inc., put it well:

“As women, we’ve had to challenge society’s beliefs that we aren’t strong enough to lead,” Goss wrote in her application for the award. “Women are often seen as compassionate, giving, intuitive and caring. Those may not be the characteristics most commonly sought after in leadership. We should, however, learn to embrace them.”

This idea isn’t limited to the pages of Most Influential Women, however, and it’s exciting to see a shift in social conversation regarding what makes women powerful and influential.

I hope you take some time to read through the these profiles.

I also encourage you to give this paper to your daughters or other young women you know to inspire them with stories of real “wonder women.”

Also, give it to your sons and other young men to garner respect for what women are doing in the community.

Let’s celebrate what makes us strong and influential. Then consider your own personal most influential women and maybe put a card in the mail or make a phone call to say, “thank you.”

Springfield Business Journal Features Editor Hanna Smith can be reached at hsmith@sbj.net.

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