Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Obligatory Thanksgiving Post - where I really do give Thanks!

As the holidays approach I can't help but start mentally conducting a year in review.  It seems this year marked the rise of a new type of feminism.  Although in full disclosure, it may have always been there, and I only noticed it this year.  Maybe I've finally come to a point in my career/life where I'm not so inwardly focused that I can actually see what's happening around me on a macro level.  From the push for more Women in Tech to Emma Watson's He for She speech, even Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella saying that women shouldn't ask for raises has pushed the issue to the forefront - at least for me.  And as I see more women trying to make a difference, I'm struck by how lucky I am to have had so many strong women support me.  So, this year's Thanksgiving post is dedicated to thanking them.

It may have been my uncle who pushed me to dream big and who taught me to learn from every experience, but it was my aunt Diana Kaye that instilled a strong work ethic and a belief that I don't need to wait for someone to do it for me.  It's because of her that I know the value of hard work, even when no one else is watching.  So for that, Thank You Kaye-Kaye.

I've also been blessed by an awesome group of women, without whom I would have never made it through Professor Rose's contracts class, much less the rest of law school.  When the socially isolating aspects of law school started to get me down, one of my girls was always there to pick me up and get my head out of the rank related neurosis.  And for that I owe a big thanks to Stephanie Vinca-Sandell and Kari Jill Granville-Minton!

During my last year in law school, I interned at a then little known company named GoDaddy.  I worked for the toughest New Yorker with the biggest heart you'd ever met.  She's also one of the smartest people I've met.    She taught me more about how to work a room to get what you want while keeping your integrity and sincerity than I knew what to do with at the time.  She also taught me the difference between a mentor and a sponsor.  A mentor is a great person to have on your side, she will guide you, advise you and be a sounding board when you most need it.  A sponsor will go to bat for you.  Will risk their own reputation to give you chances you wouldn't otherwise have had.  Thanks to Ms. Nima Kelly for showing me just how important both mentors and sponsors are.

Because of Nima, I got the amazing opportunity to work for a women who epitomizes the word Mentor.  Christine Jones took every opportunity to challenge me and help me grow, both professionally and as an individual.  She taught me how to 'think like a lawyer' back when I didn't understand what that phrase meant.  I still go to her for advice on everything from making my next career move to what makes the most sense in support of my family.  And she always makes time for me.  Even though she's since moved on to bigger and better things, she answers the phone when I call and returns my emails the same day.  I wouldn't be who I am today without CJ.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

And I wouldn't have met a lady who touched my life so profoundly, I may not have become a mom without her influence.  When Keena Willis came to work for CJ, she was a friendly co-worker.  But over the years we worked together she became family.  She was sister to me in a way that I had never connected to my own sisters.  Her strength as a single mom was an inspiration to me.  Her connection with her family and those of us who became family was awesome in the true definition of that word.  Although we've grown apart due to distance and other obligations, I know without a doubt that I could pick up the phone and she would be there for me instantly - because that's what family does. She doesn't know that the nights after I first found out I was pregnant I thought of her and knowing what family could look like comforted me - even though I was hundreds of miles away from my own.  Thank you Keena - you rock!

Speaking of family, my own sister Bonnie Bailey continues to inspire me with her drive to improve herself everyday.  After being knocked down time and again, she continues to get back up.  Each and every time stronger than before.  She reminds me that it's never to late to start again and no dream is too big.  She'll be graduating from college the same year her son graduates from high school.  And she's doing it as a scholar!  How she manages it all is still a mystery, and she still has time to listen to me vent about everything from diapers to egos.

Since moving to Austin, I've had so many friends, co-workers and mentors that I could go on for hours about each.  But it's getting late and I need a glass of wine - so I want to thank Sarah Tuchler, Tina Letcher, Connie Ruthven, Nancy Ebe, Amy Fitzgerald, Crystal Hill, Ann Benolken, Angela Vogeli and Leslie Thorne for showing me how powerful having a network of strong professional women can be, and how nice it is to have friends in a new home town!

I'm off to my wine - but don't be shy, who are you Thankful for this year?