“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.’”
—Lewis Carroll, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”
Every day, we are faced with choices. It is our response to those choices that defines who we are and who we will become.
Some choices are small – heels or flats with this outfit? Some choices are larger – Should I sell my house now or wait until spring? And some choices set us down a life path toward ultimate success or failure.
For Springfield Business Journal’s 2014 class of Most Influential Women, the path was clear. These 20 ladies have made some powerful choices and, through their experiences, have helped shape southwest Missouri as we know it today.
I pondered the above quote while helping craft “Alice In Wonderland” tea party-themed centerpieces for this year’s Oct. 10 event. Choosing careers as bankers, lawyers, educators and entrepreneurs, just to name a few, these ladies easily could have fallen down the rabbit hole with one wrong choice. But they didn’t. Through drive, dedication and the sheer will of a woman determined, these ladies are leaders in our community, dedicate time to educating our youth and work countless hours of civil service.
I spoke with each honoree about obstacles they’ve overcome during their careers and each offered a bit of advice for other women, some of which you will see reflected in this booklet. Overwhelmingly, it was the “male-dominated profession” answer I got most, and often it was their successes despite being the only female on the team that they count among their proudest accomplishments.
Because of the effort and the refusal to give up of women such as these, I believe our world continues to improve a little bit each day. From women’s suffrage, to simply wearing pants, great strides have been made in our past. But the fight continues in areas such as equal pay.
A voice determined, no matter how small, cannot be stifled, and the class of 2014 is speaking loud and clear.
The southwest Missouri community seems to think so, as well, because the public nominated the ladies honored here. Nominees were then asked to expound on how they’ve demonstrated leadership in their endeavors, how they have influenced others and their civic affairs. Applications were then scored by an independent panel of judges who considered more than 60 applicants in search of these 20 women.
SBJ will once again partner with Women in Need of the Ozarks to help raise money during the event though a silent auction and donations. Funds will provide resources necessary to enable women in need to become women of strength.
From one woman to another, kudos to this year’s class for breaking through and making your voices heard across southwest Missouri.
The “Alice” quote above reminds me of my very favorite from American poet, Robert Frost: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Sometimes the choices we make have set us down a path that can be called groundbreaking or influential, but to those walking it, it’s simply a way of life. Features Editor Emily Letterman can be reached at email@example.com.