Mothers are community leaders

By Andrea Bazán-Manson

As Mother’s Day approached, my inbox began filling up with messages reflecting on the day.

One gave a history of the celebration: Mother’s Day was originally started in the U.S. after the Civil War in 1870, as a protest to the carnage of that war, by women who had lost their sons.

Others were funny in tone or just simply sent happy wishes.

As a working mother of three daughters, I always consider this day special.

But Mother’s Day also gives one a chance to recognize women in our lives.

As a state and a nation, we cannot overlook the center stage that mothers have taken recently.

It is striking, for example, to think that in North Carolina, there is, for the first time, a mother running for governor — Lt. Gov. Beverley Purdue.

In our country, there is, for the first time, a mother running for president – U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And a mother is the first woman speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives — Nancy Pelosi.

Indeed, our state is benefiting from the service of many mothers serving in our North Carolina General Assembly, and on local school boards, boards of county commissioners and town councils across North Carolina.

And not only are women in such high-profile positions, but we also must recognize the invaluable work that mothers are doing in all aspects of our community — from the thriving nonprofit sector, where most positions are held by women, to the work that is being done in philanthropy, education, health care and many other fields.

Do mothers bring a different, important perspective to their leadership positions?

I believe so.

Working and mothering is not easy, and there is still much work that needs to be done in terms of benefits, making the workplace friendlier for families, and salary equality among genders — but the increasing participation of mothers in policy-making positions means that we are well on our way to addressing some meaningful changes.

It is certainly an exciting time.

Andrea Bazán-Manson is president of Triangle Community Foundation in Durham, N.C., and a 1997-99 William Friday Fellow for Human Relations at the Wildacres Leadership Initiative in Durham, N.C. She is the mother of 3 daughters, Carolina., 10; Juliana, 6; and Victoria, 5.

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