Lieutenant Governor speaks on LeadHER panel at Saint Mary’s
Nicole Caratas | Wednesday, September 9, 2015
Saint Mary’s hosted an interactive panel Tuesday called LeadHER, featuring Indiana Lieutenant Governor Sue Ellspermann and her Chief of Staff, Tonya Brothers-Bridge, to discuss topics including fearless leadership and the power of women mentorship.
Along with Ellspermann and Brothers-Bridge, panelists included president and CEO of Michiana Partnership Regina Emberton, president and CEO for the YWCA North Central Indiana Linda Baechle, senior business major Ambar Varela and senior global studies major Eleanor Jones. The discussion was moderated by associate project director of the Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (WEI) Joan McClendon.
“Saint Mary’s College has educating women leaders since our founding in 1844,” College president Carol Ann Mooney said in her welcome. “I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that after attending the WEI leadership event in the spring, Tonya Brothers-Bridge from the Lieutenant Governor’s office realized that Saint Mary’s was the perfect place to return to and talk about women’s leadership.”
Both Ellspermann and Brothers-Bridge talked about their experiences as women in the professional world and in politics specifically. They both said they do not try to step away from who they are as women but rather work to gain respect as women in male-dominated fields.
Ellspermann said she tries to bring in new ways of thinking and problem solving from her female perspective and thinks it is important to bring in other minorities because everyone has something new to offer.
Jones posed the question of whether or not fearless leadership exists and what fears Ellspermann and Brothers-Bridge face in their careers in politics.
“I think a career life is meant for taking on the fearless opportunities,” Ellspermann said. “It’s taking on a job you’re not sure you can do and realizing that each time you do it, you get confidence for the next position.”
Brothers-Bridge said that she does not believe fearlessness exists.
“I think if you’re not scared, your goals are not big enough or your dreams aren’t lofty enough,” Brothers-Bridge said. “I don’t try to go through life fearless. I try to go through life taking the appropriate risks and managing those risks.”
The women also discussed the power of women mentorship; both attested to its importance in paving the way for future generations of women leaders.
“Mentoring to me is having a very personal, sincere, open, honest relationship with someone that you trust,” Brothers-Bridge said. “I love to mentor others. I’ve had some really terrific mentors in my life, and I feel that is a way I can give back.
“We take it seriously that we should mentor other people,” Ellspermann said. “We should encourage them, and when they step forward [in leadership roles], we should get behind them. … We need to be active in that role so that our daughters, my four daughters, won’t see politics as ‘that ugly thing.’”
Ellspermann said the way for women to advance to leadership position is to not be afraid to ask for it. She said women should not lower expectations or accept lesser pay when they deserve more.
“Life is too short,” Ellspermann said. “You need to be doing something where you’re making a difference, where you’re loving to get up everyday, where you’re loving to engage in what you’re doing.
“As women, we try to prepare the way so that those who are out there can do whatever they want to. Whether you want to be a stay-at-home mom, or whether you want to be a Ph.D., or whether you want to be the president of a bank or whether you want to start your own business. We want all of those options out there.”