COLUMN BY WENDY DOYLE, PRESIDENT & CEO, WOMEN'S FOUNDATION
It’s so easy to get caught up working for long-term change that sometimes we forget to stop and look at the differences we’re making today. That’s why I’d like to stop and take a moment to tell you about a remarkable family of strong women leaders whose involvement in various Women’s Foundation programs strengthens and perfectly exemplifies our mission.
Beverly Cunningham, a recent appointee to the Kansas City Property and Maintenance Appeals Board, was first connected to the Women’s Foundation through our Appointments Project which serves as a talent bank, adviser, and advocate for women seeking appointed positions in local government. Dedicated to serving her community, Beverly has been appointed by Mayor Sly James, but her involvement with our foundation doesn’t end there. Like a true leader, she saw potential in other women– in this case, her daughters.
“[The Women’s Foundation] empowers myself and my daughters by giving us an avenue to help out in our community and to show others how important it is to do so.”
Beverly’s oldest daughter Maurissa is 14, and a member of our Girl’s Leadership Program, which educates and empowers high school girls to be confident civic leaders and philanthropists in their communities and beyond. Though she is new to the program this year, she is already learning valuable lessons about leadership. To her, leadership means “to set an example for people that look up to you and help them out.”
Maddison, age 11, is Beverly’s youngest daughter. She believes that leadership means “to guide someone to the greatest things. Not to follow. Just be kind and be nice.” Maddison is involved in Madam President, a program that the Women’s Foundation sponsors with UMKC to help young women, ages 10-14, build leadership skills, learn about politics and join a fun and supportive network of peers, civic mentors and parents. She shared with us that she is looking forward to presenting her goals and connecting with mentors to help her achieve her goals.
I can’t tell you enough what a pleasure it is to see Beverly and her daughters embrace these new leadership development opportunities. Beverly is working hard to ensure the next generation of women doesn’t forget about the importance of helping others. Both of her daughters look to her as a role model reminding us that she is not only a mother but according to her daughters, a “leader” and someone who is “very loving, is willing to help anyone and put up with lots of things- bad or good.”
We asked Beverly how the Women’s Foundation has impacted her life. Her answer? “The Women’s Foundation has impacted my life greatly!! I have been able to become part of a group of women who empower each other. Not only within the group, but within the community.”
Beverly’s comments remind me why the work we’re doing at the Women’s Foundation is so important. Women of all ages need to feel empowered to play active roles in strengthening their communities.
Looking to the future, Beverly hopes Maurissa and Maddison “will take these opportunities with them throughout their lives and remember the goals they have set and accomplish them and more!”
We do too.