Women of inspiration: Celebrating International Women’s Day

She could be your mom, sister, wife, boss, peer, friend, or any combination of the above.

International Women’s Day is celebrated on March 8th with a mission to help forge a gender-equal world. In honor of this celebration, we caught up with a few community members and asked them two questions: Can you tell us about an influential woman if your life? and What do you hope for women in the next generation?

These are the stories of the fiercely dynamic women they are celebrating and their hopes for generations to come.

Kent Boxey, Principal of Meridian Junior High School.

Kent Boxey, Principal of Meridian Junior High School
When asked about an influential woman in his life, Kent Boxey doesn't hesitate to name his wife, Amy. “The best word I think of to describe my wife: selfless.” Amy wears many hats and holds many titles. “She’s selfless as a mother, a wife, a daughter, and an educator. She would drop anything in order to help someone else. Amy is honestly always thinking of others.”

Amy serves as Dean of Students at Meridian Early College High School where her selflessness also shines through. “Much of her job is working with high school students that need guidance not just in school, but also in their lives. These selfless acts of giving are not just in her personal life, but also in her professional life. She works so hard to help her students.”

Boxey attributes a strong sense of faith to the characteristics that influence him the most. “Amy's morality is what makes her so caring, so selfless. She truly lives her faith and that comes through in her interactions with everyone she meets. It’s who she is. Amy’s wonderful a role model to me, to her children, to her students, and to her friends.”

Boxey has hopes for future generations of women, especially those that become mothers to the next generation. “I hope for qualities that I find most inspirational in my wife: morality, honesty, trustworthiness and selflessness. I hope for parents that possess these qualities and pass them on to the next generation of children.”

Nicole Ford, Chief of Police, Midland MI

Nicole Ford, Chief of Police, Midland MI

An inspirational woman in Nicole’s life is her mother, Judy. “My mom raised me as a single mom since I was five years old. I watched her struggle but she always seemed to make it work.

I know there were many times that she wanted to be able to buy me things that she couldn't, but I never ever felt like we went without. She never quit. Watching that as a young girl definitely left a significant impression on me.”

Ford’s mom was one of the top managers for a cleaning company during a time that it was fairly unusual to have female bosses. “A lot of her staff were male. So, I got to see that kind of example of female leadership from early on in life and it definitely inspired me.”

Ford, a role model to females herself, has many hopes for future generations of women. “First off, I hope we get to a point where women leading companies, departments, and major organizations is commonplace. Though I am extremely honored and humbled that I get to play this role and I am extremely excited to lead a department of such great officers, it will be nice when someday this is just the norm. I also hope for future generations to be reminded to never give up on their dreams, no matter how many people say those dreams are unattainable.”

Lindsay Henry, Creative Content Writer, United Way of Midland County

ndsay Henry, Creative Content Writer, United Way of Midland County

The bond of friendship has proven powerful for Lindsay Henry. “An influential woman in my life is one of my best and dearest friends, Kelly Browning. In 2017, when she was 30-years-old, she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma: an aggressive form of blood cancer that has no cure.”

“Cancer didn’t care that we had faced this before, as her father was diagnosed with leukemia when we were in college. Cancer didn’t care that Kelly was a newlywed, married just three short months prior to the diagnosis. Cancer did not care that she was young.”

“But Kelly did care. I watched her go through this life-altering situation with absolute grace, grit and honesty. I watched her dye her hair rainbow colors, then shave it all off before the chemo took it away. I watched her get poked and prodded and make endless drives to Ann Arbor to get injected with medicine that hurt before it could heal. I watched her reassure others, showing strength despite her body’s weakness.”

“But most of all, I watched her fight. And now I watch her—healthy and thriving and accepting of her new normal—as she boldly shares her story with others in hopes to bridge understanding with inspiration. Every day, I’m in awe of her strength, grit and gumption. Most of all, I’m inspired by her will to live her life authentically and unafraid. She views cancer as a sentence in her story…not the ending.”

Henry hopes that women in the next generation “recognize the power of their own self-worth and feel empowered to ask for what they deserve: in friendships, in romantic relationships and in the workplace. We teach people how to treat us. My hope for the women of the next generation is to not only recognize the power of their voices, but to use it to stand up for themselves, set boundaries and raise the bar of expectations of what they deem as acceptable and right.”

Josh Holliday, Communications and Public Relations Manager at Midland Center for the Arts

Josh Holliday, Communications and Public Relations Manager at Midland Center for the Arts

“In my life, I have been surrounded by many influential women who have taught important life-lessons, making me the person that I am today. From professional mentors to friends, colleagues and leaders in the community, they have all played a critical role, but one of the most influential women in my life is my mom. She is resilient, dedicated and hardworking. Always standing beside me, teaching me to have a strong work ethic, to pursue my dreams, while doing whatever is necessary to help me accomplish my personal goals," Holliday says.

"Over the years, she has helped me move me across the country for professional endeavors that have resulted in this opportunity to be working at Midland Center, and has supported me with love and compassion to succeed. What makes her influential is her ability to be my strongest critic, but also my loudest supporter.”

My hope for women in the next generation is that we continue to bring forth the voices of women in our communities, share their stories, ideas, and motivations so they can be heard. It is critical to have voices from a diverse group at the table, and that includes having equal representation. Women have played a critical role in society for many decades, but have not always received the praise and acknowledgement of their efforts. Times have changed, and continue to change, for the better, and we can do better. Women will be at the forefront of changing the world we live in, today and for tomorrow, leading our conversations and guiding us with new and exciting ideas and inventions. At Midland Center for the Arts, we have a wonderful exhibit in the Museum of Science & Art, Seeing HERstory, which celebrates and shares the story of women who have been trailblazers in our history, and those who will be for years to come. I encourage you to come and experience it.”

Logan Richetti, Realtor and owner of Modern Realty

Logan Richetti, Realtor and owner of Modern Realty

For Logan Richetti of Modern Realty, it’s his mom, Cindy Richetti, who’s influence he cherishes.  “She’s had an impact on so many people's lives throughout her 30-year career as a licensed mental health counselor. She’s had a positive impact on literally hundreds of people’s lives through grief counseling, marriage counseling, and the many issues people face in life. My mom has helped a lot of people.”

When Cindy was diagnosed with multiple myeloma cancer, Logan learned a lot about strength and embracing life. “She went through a weekly cancer treatment, a stem cell transplant, she lost all of her hair. And amazingly, she’s done it all with humor and positivity. She hasn’t let it stop her from doing the things she enjoys and making the most of life. She still plays pickleball seven days a week!”

“I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from her is that no matter what happens in life, you just take it in stride. You have fun with it. You embrace all the things that happen to you rather than let them define you.”

When asked his hope for future generations of women, Richetti says “I would hope that women have the courage and strength to fight against challenges head on without any fear. That they know that regardless of being a man or woman you can take on a difficult challenge and defeat it.”

Kay Wagner, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety at MidMichigan Health

Kay Wagner, Vice President of Quality and Patient Safety at MidMichigan Health
Kay Wagner’s recognition of influential women in our community shows strength and support in numbers. “Professionally, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with women who have had and continue to have a positive impact on me.  Women colleagues, teachers, leaders, friends and community members. I struggle with naming just a few, full well knowing that the list will not be inclusive.”

“I continue to learn and be inspired by the women leaders of MidMichigan Health who have helped me along the way; Andrea Frederick, Lynn Bruchof, Chandra Morse, Karen Calkins, Shelli Wood, Jan Penney, Tammy Terrell, Donna Rapp, Francine Padgett, Lydia Watson and Diane Postler-Slattery. These women believed in me, took a chance on me, and supported my professional growth and development.”

“The Quality and Safety Team who I am so fortunate to lead, they teach me daily what it means to be true patient advocates. Women who are making a difference in the communities where we live so that they can be sustainable thriving environments for generations to come.”

“My work with Sharon Mortenson as the Chair of the Midland Area Community Foundation, women of the Contemporary Review Club (CRC), and the great leaders of the women’s Midland 100 Club (Bobbie Arnold and Tina Van Dam). Fellow Midland Business Alliance past Athena recipients with the likes of Nancy Barker, a woman who has paved the way for those who follow. Professionally they have taught me to be persistent, passionate, and loyal to this place we call home. All of these individuals have shaped who I am today which if need to be summarized in one word – EMPOWERED.”                           

Wagner has powerful hopes for the generations of women to come. “My hope is that they continue to encourage one another to reach their highest potential, both individually and collectively. This will require meeting one another where we are at, without judgement. For women to be truly authentic and vulnerable with one another so that we can be our true self.  And I hope that we can continue to articulate our wants and needs in a positive liberated fashion rather than through the lens of the oppressed. Only then will we begin to realize the unlimited potential of what unified resilient women can accomplish.”   

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