To mark Women’s History Month in March, the Californian asked a number of women leaders in the community about the women they inspired.
Here are the submissions we received:
Katie Russell, Superintendent of the Panama-Buena Vista Union School District
“One of the women who inspires me is Michelle Obama. Before Ms. Obama went to the White House, she was an attorney and later a published author. She has also worked in nonprofits and served as vice president of Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
“As first lady, Michelle Obama served as a role model for women and stood up as an advocate for poverty awareness, education (one of my favorites), diet, physical activity, and healthy eating. I always looked up to her to continue her work in these areas together dealing with adversity and the ugliness of people who just want to bring you down, she is one who focuses on staying positive, leaning on her person, and continuing to rise above the negative around others around her to inspire to be your best self. “
Cathy Abernathy, businesswoman specializing in public relations, campaign management and surveys
“I became passionate about Margaret Thatcher (including naming our firstborn after her) from the mid-1980s when ‘The Grand Alliance’ between her, President Reagan and Pope John Paul II adopted a global strategy to defeat Soviet communism Who changed and changed She was a formidable Prime Minister of England and I would watch her at many noisy parliamentary sessions, giving speeches and rebuttals with grace and humor and a lot of piercing rhetoric.
“One of many of her quotes that influenced me was: ‘If you just wanted to be liked, you would always be willing to compromise on anything and you would get nowhere.’ My career in politics has given me the opportunity to observe this slippery slope when compromise can go too far. It is an honor to work and help choose many who understand this as well. “
Brynn Carrigan, director of Kern County Public Health Services
“It may sound cliché to say, but I wouldn’t be the woman I am today if it weren’t for my mother. My mother is one of the strongest and nicest people I have ever met. My mother set the gold standard. Every day my mother inspires me to be the best version of myself. Today my mother is not only my inspiration. But she is my best friend. “
Raji Brar, Countryside Market & Restaurants Chief Operating Officer and local philanthropist
“My mother, Surjit Jhaj, is a source of inspiration for me. She immigrated to the United States from Punjab, India, at the age of 15. From harvesting the grapes in the fields to making burger burgers at Burger King, my mother was proud of her She regretted that she had never received her education and conveyed the value of it to me. She raised me to see education as my life partner, something that no one could take away from me. She raised me to be an independent woman.
“My mother is the first on the dance floor and the last to go. She makes a friend of everyone she meets, be it a janitor or a senator. She prefers driving a tractor to cookies. She loves her guns and a good steak . She never bothered to fit in anyone’s box, and she always inspired me to do the same. “
Karen Goh, Mayor of Bakersfield
“A beloved community leader, educator, nurse, nonprofit administrator, and passionate volunteer, Wendy Wayne was an example of the heart of an exceptional servant leader. Lovingly known as ‘Mother Teresa of Bakersfield,’ Wendy loved people deeply and demonstrated it with her actions and daily lives Commitment to Making This World a Better Place Wendy and I have spent endless hours discussing how we can effectively serve the most vulnerable and marginalized in our community and catalyze sustainable social change.
“We chose to let our love for people go beyond philosophical, cultural and political differences. Wendy invested in people. She took the time to listen. As a courageous and compassionate woman, Wendy inspired me to do so with her courage Taking Risks in Unknown Territories In addition to her kindness and intent to commit random kind acts, Wendy’s exceptional care for others compels me to emulate her purposeful and self-sacrificing service. “
Jennifer Williams-Cordova, artist and graphic designer at Willis Williams Design Studios
“Imagine letting your teenage boy paint their own bedroom walls. No admonition. No judgment. Don’t worry. This is my mother. And in many ways the kind, hardworking, brave and open-minded woman – my mother, Lucy Williams – straightforward leading the way for my artistic journey – because of my mom, I would paint my bedroom walls as a kid and paint the streets of Bakersfield as an adult.
“She is a phenomenal woman who always taught by example. A generous friend to anyone in need and an eternal optimist. Throughout my life my mother gave me all the tools to explore, create, and discover. who I am. Even during my recent art projects – including the Bloom mural – she was right by my side and encouraging me. I grew up seeing and believing that there was nothing this woman couldn’t accomplish – and because of I believe the same for me. “”
Teddy Feinberg is the news editor at The Californian. Follow him on Twitter: @TeddyFeinberg