Month: January 2014

All Month: January 2014

January 30, 2014

The Past As Inspiration

In February we celebrate both Black History Month and Women’s Health Month. Accordingly, we will be honored to have Dr. Leslie Douglas-Churchwell, a respected physician and civic leader in our community, as our luncheon speaker on February 12.

To further honor both black history and the women’s health movement, I would like to introduce you to Rebecca Lee Crumpler, an African American woman and early pioneer in the nursing field, who lived from 1831 to 1895.

Rebecca was the first African American woman to earn a medical degree at a time when advanced education for women was rare and for African American women, improbable.

Rebecca was born free in Delaware and raised by an aunt in Pennsylvania who had a profound effect on her. The aunt was the person in the community to whom everyone came for medical assistance. Her service to the community became Rebecca’s inspiration for her life’s calling. Rebecca wrote early on that she knew her life’s work had to be in a field where she could “relieve the sufferings of others,” as her aunt had done.

There were no schools of nursing at that time, but that did not deter Rebecca. In 1852, she moved to Charlestown, Massachusetts, where for eight years she learned on the job to become a nurse. She impressed the doctors with whom she worked, and they submitted letters recommending that she be admitted to the New England Female Medical College. Her acceptance at the college was highly unusual, as there were few medical schools and most did not admit African Americans.

Although her studies were interrupted by war, she graduated in 1864 and became the first African American woman in the United States to earn a medical degree, and the only African American woman to ever graduate from the New England Female Medical College.

After the war, Crumpler moved to Richmond, Virginia, where her main focus was on the health needs of freed slaves. In her work with other black doctors, she tended to large groups of the poor and destitute who otherwise would have had little access to medical care. Thus a new path was forged for healthcare in underserved communities.

In 1869, she and her husband, Arthur Crumpler, returned to Boston and established a practice where she specialized in caring for women and children. In 1883 her Book of Medical Discourses was published; the book was written for women to provide them with information to understand how to care for the health of their families.

We often take for granted the privilege of education, of attaining our aspirations and of received healthcare when we have those things. We often forget that not all people, especially women, get the education they need to attain their aspirations or the healthcare access they need to live long, productive lives.

I hope Rebecca’s story will remind us all of the impact one woman can have if given the opportunity to try.

For more information about Racial and Ethnic health disparities consider the following facts:

Infants born to black women are 1.5 to 3 times more likely to die than those born to women of other races/ethnicities and American Indian and Alaska Native infants die from SIDS at nearly 2.5 times the rate of white infants.

African Americans, American Indians and Alaska Natives are twice as likely to have diabetes as white individuals; diabetes rates among Hispanics are 1.5 times higher than those for whites.

Leading factors in cause of death in Tennessee:

  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • No leisure time-physical activity
  • Smoking currently
  • Eating 5+ fruits and vegetable a day

Visit the American Public Health Association to download more important facts about health disparities and what can be done to address the issues.

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January 5, 2014

Looking Forward by Looking Back

 (Curious about what your Cable Board is doing? Read on.)

As 2013 comes to a close and I look ahead to 2014, I am resolved to take with me into this new year a host of lessons learned both of my own making as well as from someone recently lost from this world.

With the passing of Nelson Mandela we have the opportunity to sincerely embrace and celebrate universal leadership teachings from someone who left a legacy to those who are willing to listen.

“A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don’t have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed.”

Mandela taught us leadership is not the position you hold in the organization or the title on your business card but the behaviors you choose to use in every situation with every person you meet. Nashville is filled with remarkable women leaders, many of whom are not necessarily Presidents or CEOs, but have a point of view, something to say, a passion to make a difference and are willing to give of themselves and of their time to do it. Cable is fortunate to have many of those women on our Board and/or involved in our initiatives.

“Action without vision is only passing time, vision without action is merely day dreaming, but vision with action can change the world.”

There is a staccato drumbeat for women in leadership, women on boards, equal opportunities, equal pay coming from more sources than ever before. New non-profit organizations are emerging each year to raise awareness and measure results of the progress women are making in seeking and receiving opportunities at the highest levels of leadership. Cable has been a leader in this effort for over eight years through our Women On Boards initiative and our partnership with Lipscomb University to measure results for Tennessee.

“What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead.”

Mandela taught us to dream big and make things happen. Cable is successful only when we collaborate and work together to raise everyone’s prospects and create a future for women that hasn’t existed before. This requires action. If you believe, as I do, that you can make a difference, get involved by adding your voice to the Women’s Leadership Committee, enroll in the Cable Leadership Academy or join the organization’s board.

Your Cable Board is working hard to propel this organization forward with the clear intent of providing needed support to women in every walk of business life. This means having informed and necessary debate about what this organization can and should provide to you and to our community.

“Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

Mandela taught us to be better, not bitter. We know from our recent survey of Cable members there is great interest in bettering ourselves through personal and professional development. To that end we have instituted a strategy in our Women’s Leadership Committee that envelops the desire to learn management and leadership skills as well as improve personal productivity.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Mandela taught us to never give up on seemingly impossible ideals. With the collaboration and expertise of Cable women leaders, a group of thirteen women applied and were accepted into the inaugural Cable Board Academy. Over the course of five months the class has learned about board service, the roles and responsibilities of board members, how to research companies and prepare to be interviewed as a prospective board member. The program will culminate in January with mock interviews. Each one of these women is capable, skilled and now prepared to seek a board seat. I have no doubt that each will one day find a place on at least one board. We owe a big thank you to Jan Babiak and Kim Holleman for providing leadership and vision so this dream could become a reality.

Consider what opportunities are in front of you in 2014. Are you ready to accept the opportunities when they are presented? Are you making opportunities happen for yourself?

“It is better to lead from behind and to put others in front, especially when you celebrate victory when nice things occur. You take the front line when there is danger. Then people will appreciate your leadership.”

Finally, as we reflect on the lessons from Mandela, let us remember the word “Ubuntu”: I am because of you.

Thank you for the opportunity to lead Cable this year. There is so much more we can do. Please join with your Board and let us make great things happen for women.

Happy New Year to all!!

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