Recently, I was having a conversation with one of our philanthropic member organization directors and remarked to him how thrilled I was to learn of his family’s contribution to Meridian, MS. His grandfather owned and operated the E.F. Young Hotel which was a place that black travelers could find quality lodging during the years of segregation. He commented that he was happy to see the local media recognize his grandfather’s contribution but that he and his family always try to get the media to give their grandmother more credit. After their grandfather died at an early age, their grandmother, a young black woman, was left to raise their three children while successfully managing multiple businesses alone for over a decade. He described her as being “humble on the surface while being a fierce strategist.”
As we entered Women’s History Month, I have reflected on this conversation. So often we are reminded of those women whose life stories are chronicled in history books and their names are etched in our cultural fabric to be told and re-told for generations to come. But what about the women we rarely hear about; women who also rose to the occasion during difficult moments in their lives but whose stories may go untold. Those women who are or were heroes in their communities or even families who approached adversity with intensity and resilience.
At this time, I encourage us all to reflect on the contributions that women have made to our society and especially think about the ones whose quiet stories may not get told to the masses. One of my heroes is a woman named Katherine Anderson. She rose to the occasion when her widowed daughter died and left thirteen children orphaned. She welcomed them into her home and provided them with the nurturing and security they needed to develop and reach their full potential. One of those children was my great-grandfather. I was told that Katherine Anderson, Grandma Katy, was a caring and calming force in the lives of those she touched. I am because of her.
The Alliance enters this season of reflection and gratitude, deeply appreciative of the support from our many members, supporters, and friends.
The Phil Hardin Foundation in Meridian was chartered in 1964 with the charge to “improve the education of Mississippians.” For nearly six decades, we have strived to be a catalyst for educational opportunity and community improvement in Mississippi through innovative leadership and productive partnerships.
This summer, I joined thought leaders from Mississippi and across the country in the FutureGood Studio’s futurism training program. It was transformational. This experience redefined my outlook, both professionally as a nonprofit leader and on a personal level. It fundamentally altered the way I approach work and staff engagement and envision the future for both myself and the clients we serve.