Women in Leadership: Reflecting on 2013

2013 has been a remarkable year for women in leadership. From sports to politics to the corporate world any in so many other areas, women continue to make an impact, to move forward and upward, to stay strong and to drive change. So as the year comes to a close, I wanted to take some time to reflect back on just some of the women that took the stage in one way or another in 2013.

They use their health challenges to educate and inspire others! This year we saw two women with high profiles in the news arena (Good Morning America) persevere through significant health issues, and use their high profiles to educate and inspire others. Robin Roberts returned to the anchor chair in February after undergoing a bone marrow transplant for a rare blood disorder in 2012, and Amy Robach shared her breast cancer story as a platform for reminding women about the importance of getting mammograms.

They drive change in the legal system! California’s same sex marriage ban (known as Proposition 8) was challenged by the couple Kris Perry and Sandy Stier. Proposition 8 was ultimately overturned by a court, and Kris and Sandy got married on June 28th at San Francisco’s City Hall.

They helped to end the U.S. government shutdown! Three Republican senators—Susan Collins (Me.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.) created the beginning of the framework which was credited with helping to form the Senate deal that finally ended the 16-day shutdown.

They swim victory laps! On September 2nd long distance swimmer Diana Nyad became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without the protection of a shark cage. At 64 years old, it was her 5th attempt.

They top the list and continue to accomplish more firsts! Marissa Mayer became the first woman to be #1 on Fortune’s list of the top business stars under 40, fifteen months after securing the role of CEO at Yahoo. Mary Barra is the first woman to lead General Motors – she will take the helm as CEO in January of 2014.

They author books that change conversations we are having about women in the corporate world! Sheryl Sandberg’s book ‘Lean In’ has brought to the forefront important conversations related to women’s presence in management and executive ranks.

They take a stand on women’s rights! Wendy Russell Davis is an American lawyer and Democratic politician from Fort Worth, Texas who represents District 10 of the Texas Senate. On June 25, 2013, Davis held an eleven hour filibuster to block Senate Bill 5, legislation that would create new abortion regulations in Texas. Davis gained national fame for the filibuster. She now has plans to run for governor in 2014.

They defined the words courage and poise! Antoinette Tuff was the Georgia elementary school clerk who talked a gunman into giving up his arms.

They secured more firsts in government related roles! Janet Yellen was appointed as the first female Chairperson of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. Julia Pierson was appointed as the first female Director of the U.S. Secret Service.

They survived! Amanda Berry, Michelle Knight and Gina DeJesus survived roughly a decade of being subjected to imprisonment, beatings and rape before escaping on May 6th, 2013. We cannot even begin to imagine their suffering. They are survivors and every day they are moving forward to reclaim their lives. In Michelle Knight’s words: ‘I will not let the situation define who I am.’

They lead nations! Park Geun-hye was sworn in as South Korea’s new – and first female – president.

They are girls speaking up for girls! Malala Yousafzai could not be silenced by the Taliban’s bullets. A vocal advocate for education for Pakistani girls, it’s been a year since she was shot in the head for her beliefs. She now lives in England with her family, is sixteen years old, continue to advocate for this cause, and wrote ‘I am Malala’ which has become a bestselling memoir.

These are just some of the remarkable accomplishments of women in 2013. I am sure that you, like me, can’t wait to see what 2014 brings. Happy Holidays and New Year to all of you, and may 2014 be a remarkable year for all of you and for all women, everywhere!