Celebrating the Inspiring Women of CA

March 16, 2022

March is Women’s History Month — an opportunity to honor the power and achievements of all women. The 2022 theme “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” speaks to the countless ways that women have provided healing and hope throughout the pandemic and history at large.

Here at CA, there’s no shortage of strong women to celebrate! In every area, from the arts to environmental services to fitness, you’ll find leaders to look toward for inspiration. We asked just a small sampling of CA’s women team members to reflect on their personal experiences of womanhood, and they generously shared their stories.

Before you read their insights, here’s a few words from CA President/CEO Lakey Boyd on her appreciation for the women leaders who paved the way for us today.

 

 

Carla Castillo, Facility services team member

What does the theme “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” mean to you?

My mom was the first woman to work on open space at CA, which encouraged me to become the first woman in facility services. So it’s safe to say she’s always provided healing and promoted hope in my life. Watching her strength and work ethic has helped me heal from my father not being in my life. I hope to be as strong as her someday.

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self to better prepare her for womanhood?

I would tell my 16 year old self not to worry about flaws. Everyone has them and that is what makes each of us unique. I would tell her that being a good, caring person is an amazing trait to have.

What three words would you use to describe womanhood?

Strength, resilient, compassion. 

 

 

Columbia Ice Rink’s Zamboni Drivers: Belinda Bryant, Rachel Gorton, Cynthia Boyles, Kaitlyn Frost, Andrea Burke 

We often see women performing on the ice, but what is the significance of being on the male-dominated operational side?

“There’s only one full-time female driver in the NHL, so the fact that there are five at CA is amazing. We also were the first in the state to get a battery-operated Zamboni, which is better for the environment, so we’re truly on the cutting edge (no pun intended). I don’t think people understand how much work and training goes into driving and maintaining this machine. But hearing someone admire the ice makes the hard work so worth it, and is such a source of pride.” -Belinda

“At other ice rinks, it’s very rare to see a woman driver. I think women have a different mentality when it comes to driving. We look at it as a true art.” -Kaitlyn

What would you tell other women aspiring to be Zamboni drivers?

“Just make yourself known. Wave at the crowd, honk for the little kids. If you want to try it, go for it! It’s truly rewarding because without the Zamboni, there is no hockey or ice skating.” -Andrea

Learn more about the women-dominated crew at Columbia Ice Rink here.

 

Monica McMellon-Ajayi, Director of Human Resources, Diversity & Inclusion

Monica McMellon-Ajayi

Who is your favorite woman historical figure and why?

Michelle Obama. It’s amazing to be alive to see an African American woman as the first lady, especially one who doesn’t meet the European standards of beauty that the media has always portrayed in my lifetime. She came from extremely humble beginnings, ended up at Princeton, became an attorney, a first lady, author, mother and wife, and can light up a world stage. Everything about her gives young women of color hope and something extraordinary to aspire to.

What has been the most significant change in women’s role in your lifetime?

My mother always worked full time in decent positions. When my parents applied for a mortgage in the 70s, she was told her salary did not count. Only my father’s salary mattered because she was in her childbearing years. I’ll never forget her telling me that. Now, it’s normalized for women to be breadwinners and for men to openly partner in caring for children. The burden is not always 100% on women, which allows women more flexibility to pursue their careers.

 

 

Tavia Patusky, Wellness and Fitness Director

Tavia Patusky

What has been the most significant change in women’s role in your lifetime? 

In my lifetime, I’ve begun to see more women, especially working moms, in senior leadership positions. It also feels more acceptable as a female in a leadership role to be open about being both a leader in your chosen field and a mother. That being said, less than 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs are currently women and we’ve yet to have a female President. I want to see that change in my lifetime. 

How have the women in your life shaped who you are today? 

I think about all the women, famous and lesser known, who fought for my right to vote, demand equal pay and make my own financial decisions. I am grateful to the women in my life, particularly my mother, who have personally taught me to value my own intellect and voice.  

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self to better prepare her for womanhood? 

Keep insisting that you be viewed first and foremost as a human being. People will keep reminding you of your gender and the social norms associated with that gender. You get to decide what you like and how you want to live your life.  

 

Liz Henzey, Columbia Art Center Director

Liz HenzeyWhat does the theme “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” mean to you?

For me, the 2022 theme reflects what we as women work to do everyday in our lives. Healing comes to us and others through our actions and words. To survive life challenges – whether they present themselves in our families, work, health, and in our world – reflects the resilience of women time and time again. We not only survive, but we thrive.

I’ve learned about the power of healing and the possibility that comes with hope and courage through the women in my life, like my mother, Dorothy, a survivor of the Great Depression and other historic events and wars, my late sister Sheila, a teacher and fabulous mother of five, my grandmother, Lynn, a teacher and single parent for many years. Female heroes of mine through history include Anne Frank, Corrie Ten Boom, Miep Gies, Mary Cassatt, Simone Segouin and Maya Angelou.

What advice would you give to your 16 year old self to better prepare her for womanhood?    

Don’t worry so much, don’t care what people think and trust your intuition. Pay attention to what gives you joy and do more of that. You can do anything and be anything as long as you put the effort and heart into it. Lastly: Don’t let anyone steal your unique spirit. Let it shine.

Natalie Yee, Environmental Program Manager

Natalie YeeWhat does the theme “Providing Healing, Promoting Hope” mean to you?

“Providing Healing” means acknowledging an issue, past or present, and creating an atmosphere of acceptance to help you move forward. “Promoting Hope” presents a path to use the lessons learned to create a better future. This theme is about creating a safe space for someone to recover.

What has been the most significant change in women’s role in your lifetime?

Throughout my education, there has been a significant amount of encouragement for women to go into STEM fields. There have been plenty of women scientists and engineers who have gone unrecognized because they were women. Encouraging women in these fields promotes not only that women can succeed, but that they deserve to be there.

 

Jennifer Harding, Manager of School Age Services

What is a women’s empowerment moment that inspired you?

On August 26,1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution officially took effect and allowed women to vote after its ratification 1919. Many who fought for this right never lived to witness or actively participate in voting. Too many people today take this right for granted.

What do you think is the biggest challenge that women face today?

The earned income gap. There are certain industries that historically have been male-dominated, and I feel for those women who have to fight two times as hard as their male counterparts only to earn less. We don’t have to look hard for these examples either; just look at the entertainment and sports industries. In 2021, only four women made a list of 25 of the highest-grossing entertainers. We have made some movement in the right direction, but there is still tons of work to be done.

 

Ways to celebrate the legacy of women

 

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