Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Speaker of the House

 As we come to the end of Women's History Month, I have to share one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had of a woman making history.

Several years ago, I traveled to Washington D.C. for a "Women in Congress" program.  Sponsored by PLEN (Public Leadership Education Network), the programs bring female students from all over the U.S. to the capital, to meet with members of Congress, their staff, lobbyists, and assorted other Washington folks.  While some members of our group spent their time chasing then-Senator Obama around the halls, my roommate Page and I sat in the gallery of the House of Representatives, watching Congress members at work. 

In walks a tiny woman, dressed in a wine colored suit.  Immediately, she is surrounded by a gaggle of people.  As she stood in the center of the room, she looked straight ahead.  She didn't raise her head to look up at the tall Congressmen surrounding her.  No.  Instead, they bent down to meet her, eye to eye.

I got goosebumps watching the scene.  This was a woman who was fully aware of her power and in complete control over it.  As the most powerful woman in the room, as the Speaker of the House, she knew that she set an example.  She was the one in charge.  She had the power in the room.  And she asserted and maintained her authority very very simply, in a non-threatening but very effective manner.

It's a lesson I will never forget. 

 Here's a quote from Speaker Pelosi, about meeting with other Congressional leaders at White House breakfast meetings:

For an instant, I felt as though Susan B. Anthony, Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton -- everyone who'd fought for women's right to vote and for the empowerment of women in politics, in their professions, and in their lives--were there with me in the room. Those women were the ones who had done the heavy lifting, and it was as if they were saying, At last we have a seat at the table.

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