Happy International Women’s Day!  In its 107th year, IWD celebrates and recognizes the achievements of women worldwide in the movement toward equality.  In some countries it is a national holiday much like Mother’s Day in which gifts and flowers are given.  Backed with this year’s theme of “Make it Happen”, we invited current and former colleagues, friends and family to gather at the Valente office to share stories of women who have inspired us.  You know those days you will hold in your heart forever?  This was one of those days.

We all stood in a circle and one-by-one shared stories of public figures and other “sheroes” we are so fortunate to call friends, mothers, grandmothers, “bonus moms” and best friends.  From the women (and our male Executive Director of the Valente Girls Foundation) standing in the circle, we heard stories that highlight the value of relationships.  We each grow and contribute to the web of empowerment every single day.  At the same time, our personal strength can be a light for the women around us in times of doubt or trepidation.    Yes, we are powerful.

As each woman left the event, we asked that they sign a book with their name and the story they shared in the circle.  We will continue adding to this book every year.  Here are excerpts from the book:

“From my grandmother, I learned the importance of caring for others, no matter who they are.

“The working (‘exhausted’) mom!” 

“My grandma was my inspiration…She was always interested in many activities when she was in her 80’s such as learning how to swim, how to dance, and how to do traditional Japanese hobbies.”

“My host sister from my time in the Peace Corps is my hero!”

“…Two women at Microsoft who gave me a chance to see that there might be a place for me there.  And almost 20 years later, the balance of women in technology is shifting.  Thank you.”

“…My grandma is so inspiring to me.  She never was able to have an education, so she always did what she could to get me one.”

“My mom, who never got the opportunity to go to college because she was a minority in the former USSR, but always saw a great value in education…She supported me coming to the US on my own, going to university and getting the education she never was able to get herself.”

“…one of my best friends who helped me to be the best version of myself, to follow my dreams and believe that I can do all that I aspire to.”

“My mother and family members who grew up during apartheid.  They never let anything get the best of them and always stayed positive.”

“Senator Elizabeth Warren—bringing intelligence, toughness, and a voice of reason to a male-dominated senate.”

“My mother…became an RN, had four children, and worked full-time her entire life, meanwhile never missing a beat in the significant milestones of our educational and professional accomplishments.”

Cheers to every woman around the world and to supporting each other in our personal and professional lives.  Together we make a difference.