Today is International Women’s Day. On this day, I want to celebrate the women that have been instrumental to my professional development.
My first job out of college was with the Via Center School. I had the privilege of working with Erin Thompson, the Head Teacher and Chief Badass. From Erin, I learned responsibility, patience, and how to laugh in the face of adversity. I also learned how to distinguish between small and big problems.
As a member of my church’s staff, I worked with Sunhee Robinson, one of the two lead pastors at the time (with her husband Benjamin Robinson). From Pastor Sunhee, I learned courage, wisdom, and faithfulness. I also learned the value of moving from a mindset of poverty to a mindset of fruitfulness.
Before I went to law school, I worked as a temp with Renae Griffin at her company, RG+Associates. From Renae, I learned dedication, drive, and how to greet each challenge with a smile and an iron will. I also learned that the opportunities we have are not just for ourselves, but for those that we can help.
In my first summer of law school, I interned with the Christian Legal Aid of Los Angeles, with Jessie Johnston Fahy and Sarah McKendricks. From both Jessie and Sarah, I learned compassion, integrity, and bravery. I also learned how to have a can-do attitude when faced with an unfamiliar task.
In my 2L summer, I was at LAF with Lea Weems, a Senior Attorney. From Lea, I learned excellence, clarity, and creativity. I also learned how to hold fast to principle, even in the face of difficult choices.
In my current position, I am at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights with Elisa Della-Piana, the Legal Director. From Elisa, I am learning openness, fearlessness, and strategic thinking. I am also learning how to facilitate tense conversations and bring different people together to the same conclusion.
Most of my supervisors have been women, or reported to a woman. In fact, I can only think of one job I had in which both my boss and my boss’s boss were men. That job was in college, with the UC Berkeley football team. Although the athletic director at the time was Sandy Barbour, so she was my boss’s boss’s boss or something up there.
As a man who has worked with female CEOs, female lawyers, female pastors, and female teachers, I support all women to pursue their dreams. Whenever I meet my friends’ daughters, I tell them “Don’t let anyone tell you that you are limited because you’re a girl. You can do amazing things”. Of course, most of my friends’ daughters are still babies, so I’m not sure that they understand what I’m saying, but I believe in starting early.
Hurrah for International Women’s Day!