What words come to mind when pondering women in leadership? Intrepid? Fearless? Empathetic? To reduce a woman’s contributions to the world to a handful of impact words would limit the tapestry of dynamic skills, talents, and abilities that women have been endowed with. But as representatives across the University gathered to discuss the Outstanding Alumni | Women in Leadership campaign, and the characteristics held by the individuals that would qualify them for this recognition, developing a list that captured all the ways women influence their communities was an exercise that would help the review board identify and eventually present the strongest individuals nominated by their peers and loved ones.
We didn’t take the responsibility lightly. We were intentional and thoughtful about the types of women we considered to be “outstanding.” Entrepreneurial. Influential. Servant leaders. After all, those in the room—the majority of whom were women—were some of the boldest and brightest that Pepperdine has seen, and celebrating 30 women would be like recognizing all of our unique gifts.
As we discussed these qualities, one word in particular rose to the surface. Empowered. While “empowered” is an introspective adjective that describes a person who has been granted the authority and permission—and confidence—to be in control of her own circumstances, another, related characteristic emerged from the conversation. Empowering. An empowering woman has not only been given the keys to propel herself down her own path. An empowering woman has also answered the call to serve her fellow females on their own journeys to personal and professional success. Empowering is not limited to having the confidence within oneself. Empowering means equipping others with the confidence to discover their own strengths and inviting them to access the opportunities they have been granted.
In response to a question about what being an honoree of the Outstanding Alumni | Women in Leadership campaign means to her, Sara Train (MBA ’19), sustainability manager at Trader Joe’s, responded, “When women take the risk of sharing their stories and using their unique voices, it gives others the courage to do the same.” This initiative not only honors women who do or have done great things. It celebrates women who encourage and promote their fellow women to greatness, as well.
I am proud to say that this issue of Pepperdine Magazine is bursting at the seams with stories about both empowered and empowering, extraordinary, dynamic, fearless women who are innovating in their fields and demonstrating leadership in their work, home, and faith communities. I’m lucky, myself, to have found a place where my voice matters and I am grateful to this place for continuing to empower my colleagues and me to express ourselves more and more each day so that we may lift each other up and amplify each other’s voices—louder, stronger, and more clearly—in order to ensure, collectively, that our stories endure.