Comments submitted by Sharon Riley, KU Libraries
The KU Inspiring Women in Public Administration Conference was both empowering and enlightening. One part that especially resonated with me was the importance and power of building relationships in our career. Relationships matter, and those that you build through camaraderie, teamwork, or simply sharing a business card and a story can have reverberations to your work life you may never expect.
And speaking of camaraderie – there was plenty to be had at the Conference. One of my fellow tablemates confessed that she usually didn’t attend such conferences as she always felt a bit intimidated and too shy, so it was great to cheer her on as she was the spokes-person at the microphone for our group’s share-outs! I also loved how Kay Waldo Barnes told about constructing her own doctorate recently as an Independent Scholar – her speech was incredibly inspiring – and both she and Sandy Praeger put into perspective how far women have come.
The panel speakers were open and candid in sharing their challenges (or “hiccups” as Patty Hilderbrand called them) as well as successes. Their personal stories of how they dealt with challenges and built on successes were potent narratives that spoke to me in rich, informative ways. While there was so much great information, I had a few personal takeaways. “Enjoy the mystery” – one of the panelists spoke about how her career was not planned but reminded us to “say yes” to things. Another panelist spoke about the importance of not letting fear drive our decisions and another shared her formula for staying in balance by including, in addition to career goals: “faith, family, FUN and giving back to the community.” We were encouraged to “be courageous,” “ask for advice,” and “say yes with pleasure and no with compassion.”
But my favorite was the reminder to keep asking the question: “How do I measure success?” This may not look like anyone else’s version, and that’s okay. We each have our own unique journey and sharing this journey with a lot of other truly inspirational women, made for one fabulous day.