Articles Tagged with: women leaders

Sanna Marin: Pushing for Social Equality in Finland

“The strength of a society is measured not by the wealth of its most affluent members, but by how well its most vulnerable citizens are able to cope. The question we need to ask is whether everyone has the chance to lead a life of dignity.” – Sanna Marin

This admirable quote from Sanna Marin sums up her brand of leadership, which has guided Finland for the past two years. Marin is known for being the youngest person to serve as the prime minister of Finland when she assumed the position at 34 years old. At the same time, she also became the world’s youngest state leader.

Marin became prime minister in 2019 after her predecessor resigned. This automatically earned her and her coalition government (at the time, her party’s leaders were all women, with the majority of them under the age of 35) global recognition. However, more than the fame of such a unique position, Marin would rather be known for pushing for equality.

The prime minister had a working-class upbringing and was raised by her mother and her mother’s same-sex partner. She had no interest in politics growing up and was the first person in her family to attend university. This is where she began to develop a consciousness of politics. She became a member of the youth wing of the Social Democratic Party, which started her journey to becoming prime minister.

She was an elected official of the Social Democrats and served as minister of transport and communications. However, when the Finnish prime minister at that time was accused of mishandling a pay dispute with the postal service, he stepped down, and Marin replaced him as prime minister.

From the beginning of her tenure as prime minister, Marin was respected for her focus on policy and known for her clear thinking. Her agenda focuses on improving the country’s social welfare program, social equality, and climate change issues. Although the global media tends to focus on her being a young female role model, Marin would instead turn the spotlight on the issues she values. These are crucial issues such as equality, closing the pay gap, and pledging to make Finland carbon neutral by 2035.

“We have long been pioneers in gender equality,” Sanna Marin says of her country. “So, maybe it’s not as big a deal in Finland as it would be somewhere else.”

Sacred Fire Creative honors women who serve the greater good. We help women in business become a force of good and create a lasting positive impact, not just in their businesses, but also in their communities. Contact us to learn more.


Monique Lhuillier: Elegance for the Everyday Woman

“I am a perfectionist, but I know how to live life. When I’m working, it’s 100%. When I’m with my friends, I put everything away and enjoy life. When I come home to my kids, it’s pure joy and everything’s worth it. Every time, I really focus, 100 percent on one thing, I’ve learned how to juggle my life and I feel like now I have the perfect balance.” – Monique Lhuillier

What do Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama, and Reese Witherspoon have in common? They’ve all worn Monique Lhullier’s creations. The Filipino-American fashion designer has made a mark on the fashion industry with her sophisticated, feminine, and glamorous ready-to-wear and bridal collections. 

From regular brides to famous celebrities, most women have heard of Monique Lhuillier. Her brand is synonymous with elegant and timeless feminine designs, whether in dresses or houseware. The renowned fashion designer has been a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America since 2003. Since then, she has ventured into fragrance, jewelry, and various partnerships with other brands, such as Pottery Barn.

Monique was born in Cebu City, Philippines, in 1971. She spent her childhood in the Philippines before attending boarding school in Switzerland at 15. Monique loved fashion at an early age, and after leaving Switzerland, she attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandise in Los Angeles. This school is where she met her husband, Tom Bugbee, who also became her business partner. Aside from being her life partner and father to her children, he has also helped her build her business empire.

She began designing wedding gowns in 1996 when she was preparing for her own wedding and couldn’t find anything she liked. Although she eventually found a wedding gown from another designer, this event sparked her motivation and interest in the fashion industry and began a successful fashion career.

Thanks to Monique and her elegant brand, women worldwide have access to sophisticated styles that are designed for a woman by a woman. Whether it is a milestone event like a wedding, or everyday pleasures, like wearing a favorite perfume, Monique Lhuillier continues to add beauty to women’s lives.

Sacred Fire Creative honors women who make a difference in everyday life. Contact us to learn how you can make a difference through your own business.


3 Key Leadership Lessons from Women CEOs

Did you know that, as of 2018, 12.3 million businesses in the U.S. are women-owned? That’s roughly 42% or four out of 10 of all companies in the country. Interestingly, these women-led enterprises generate around $1.8 trillion in earnings every year.

Judging by these figures, the current notion that men are better at leadership and women should emulate them is becoming obsolete. Women generally have a distinct leadership style that their male peers can actually learn from.

What leadership lessons can we learn from female CEOs? Let’s spend some time pondering these three:

Know your strengths and limitations.

Women tend to be more self-aware, and they’re usually not prone to bluster. This tendency for self-awareness gives women a deeper insight into their own strengths and limitations. They build on their capabilities and lean on others to make up for their weaknesses.

What does this mean for you? If you want to be a good leader, you need to learn more about yourself. Know the traits that make you strong and acknowledge your weak points. Use your strengths to grow your business and surround yourself with a competent and inspired team to make up for your limitations.

“It’s OK to admit what you don’t know. It’s OK to ask for help. And it’s more than OK to listen to the people you lead.” – Mary Barra, General Motors CEO

Put your team first.

Women are often stereotyped as too compassionate and relationship-oriented to be competent leaders. But the fact is that these traits are now seen as indicators of high emotional intelligence, which in turn has become a desirable trait among leaders.

As mentioned earlier, a woman business leader tends to surround herself with a team to augment what she lacks. But this relationship is rarely one-sided. Female leaders often serve as mentors and cheerleaders to their team. They encourage and empower their team to grow professionally and personally through validation and empathy.

“I think about: ‘Have I been bringing enough people along?’ You can help a peer become a CEO… This is not a competition or a race.” – Rosalind Brewer, former CEO of Walgreens

Be a transformational leader.

Perhaps one of the best leadership lessons we can learn from a woman CEO is the art of transformational leadership. A transformational leader is someone who leads by example. Their sense of purpose and values inspire their followers to change their own beliefs, bring out their best selves, and positively impact their world. Women CEOs tend to be gifted transformational leaders.

How can you become a transformative leader? It starts with yourself. You need to be a model of integrity and principle. You have to have a clear vision and measurable goals. And you have to win your team’s trust, be ever-reliable, and inspire them to serve the higher good rather than their self-interest.

“Leadership is service to others.” – Denise Morrison, Campbell Soup Co. President and CEO

These are only a few leadership lessons we can learn from women CEOs. Spend some time meditating on these lessons and see how you can apply them to your own business.

Sacred Fire Creative is a digital marketing agency that positions itself as a force for good. Reach out to us today and let us help you build a solid, authentic brand that matters to your audience.


Material Change Institute: Diversifying Capital Investment One Cohort at a Time

The investment industry has one glaring issue – it’s predominantly white and male. Given the role that investments play in driving economic growth, the fact that the industry lacks racial and gender diversity can be detrimental for women and people of color. Most of the time, they simply can’t get in the door.

Material Change Institute is set to change that. Helmed by woman investor and entrepreneur Eve Blossom, this new non-profit provides women and BIPOC professionals the skills and connections they need to succeed as investors.

Material Change Institute offers training for would-be investors.

Material Change Institute equips would-be investors from minority and underrepresented groups with the essential knowledge and tools for getting started in investment. It offers a 12-month executive program called the Material Change Fellowship.

Through the Material Change Fellowship, professionals receive training in leadership and strategic skills for different forms of investing. They also get access to mentors, peers, and partner funds that can help them apply their learnings practically. Hybrid training modes – internships, cohort-based learning, and online modules – are available. As of this writing, Material Change Institute only accepts fellows with at least five years of professional experience.

Eve Blossom aims to change the landscape of investing.

Material Change Institute founder Eve Blossom is set on transforming what the investment industry looks like. As she said in this article, “[D]isruption is needed when a system is not inclusive, does not apply different perspectives that would increase the opportunity and wealth for all of us.”

She has a point. A 2019 study revealed that women- and minority-led investment firms manage only 1.3% of the world’s assets. The worldwide asset management industry is worth US$89 trillion as of 2019. Additionally, a 2022 report found that the venture capital workforce is only 4% Black and 5% Hispanic/Latinx, though 45% is female.

Through its training program, Material Change Institute is opening the doors to investment for more women and people of color to come through. We can look forward to when the industry is not so white or male anymore.

 

Sacred Fire Creative is a Portland, OR-based digital marketing agency that aims to promote good in the world. Work with us to strengthen your brand’s connection with your audience and become a force for good.


Leni Robredo: Inspiring the Philippines’ Pink Revolution

“You do not lose sight of what you believe in, you do not lose sight of the goal. You drown out the voices because there are bigger battles to fight.” – Leni Robredo

Maria Leonor “Leni” Gerona Robredo is currently the vice president of the Philippines and one of the most influential and powerful women in the country. While influence and power typically conjure up images of a rich and authoritative figure, Leni Robredo is the opposite.

It’s common for Philippine politicians to flaunt their wealth. However, unlike a typical politician, Robredo is known for being humble and unassuming. She is famous for riding public transportation even after being elected as a congresswoman. She also caught the public’s attention for changing out of her heels and going barefoot after a televised debate. Her office focuses on anti-poverty programs and has the highest rating from the government’s Commission on Audit. Even if Robredo holds the second-highest position in the government, she remains true to herself and her values.

Before entering politics, Robredo worked as a human rights lawyer working with abused wives, marginalized farmers, and other disadvantaged groups. She is a long-time champion of Filipina empowerment and gender equality.

Robredo ran for public office after her husband Jesse Robredo died unexpectedly in a plane crash in 2012. He was the former mayor of Naga City and secretary of the Philippines’ Department of the Interior and Local Government at the time of his death. Robredo often shares how she had to stop working as a pro-bono lawyer when she became a widow because she had three young daughters to support and care for.

Her first role in public office was representative of her home province Camarines Sur’s third congressional district in 2013. This was less than a year after the death of her husband. Robredo principally authored three bills signed into law in her lone term as representative, including the Tax Incentives Management and Transparency Act. This bill aims to promote fiscal accountability and transparency in the grant and management of tax incentives.

Robredo is currently in a tight race for the presidency of the Philippines. Her primary opponent is the son of the country’s former dictator, and some would say her complete opposite. Her campaign has been dubbed “The Pink Revolution” as it brings together multisectoral groups to spread her message of hope, transparency, and transformative change.

If elected as president, Robredo says she will spend her first 100 days in office strengthening the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including giving social aid to those who need it the most. She also plans to continue and expand her poverty alleviation program throughout the Philippines. Another of her main goals is to regain the public’s trust in government through accountability and transparency. Millions of people in the country, especially women, hope that Leni Robredo wins as the 17th president of the Philippines. If she does, she will bring her brand of leadership onto a bigger stage and touch many more lives.

Sacred Fire Creative honors women leaders advocating equity, societal change, and the greater good. Work with us and create a meaningful impact in your niche today.

 


Kamonwan Wipulakorn: A Leader’s Profile

A well-respected figure in the hospitality industry, Kamonwan Wipulakorn started her career in finance and is now a prominent leader in the Southeast Asian hotel and tourism industry. Notably, she is also one of the few female executives in this male-dominated field.

Although she has a long list of accomplishments under her belt, she is most well-known for her former position as the president and director of Erawan Group. Erawan is Thailand’s leading hotel investment company with a diversified hotel portfolio across Southeast Asia. Kamonwan was also included in Prospects Top 10 Women in Entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia.

Kamonwan’s educational background and professional start

In October 2021, she was appointed Managing Director of Bound and Beyond Public Company Limited (BEYOND). She is also Vision CEO of business investor One Origin and an independent director of Star Petroleum Refining Public Limited, a leading producer of petroleum products in Thailand.

She graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand and obtained her MBA from Western Illinois University in the USA. Even after these accomplishments, she didn’t stop learning and continued to pursue self-development. She also attended the Certificate Harvard Executive Program in Harvard Business School and the Certificate Stanford Executive Program at Stanford University. Her impressive educational background is a testament to her dedication to continuous learning and improvement.

Kamonwan started her professional career as an associate at a brokerage firm more than thirty years ago and has worked her way up ever since. “I’ve worked in the financial field for 15 years, mainly in investment advisory,” Kamonwan said in an interview with the Bangkok Post. “I left the banks in 2002 to become the chief financial officer of my client’s petrochemical company for five years. But I always had an interest in the hotel business.”

Joining and leading Erawan

Kamonwan joined Erawan in 2008 when she heard about the vacant position of Chief Financial Officer in the hospitality company. After she entered, she continued climbing the corporate ladder. In 2011, she became president and director of the group and joined senior management in 2013.

Kamonwan calls her management style adaptable and always tailored to the situation she faces. She left Erawan in 2018 and continued to hold director-level positions in other companies. Her current positions are Director of Origin Property PLC, Board Member of Padaeng Industry PCL, and Managing Director of BEYOND.

While she was with Erawan, she was essential in driving the group forward and spearheading its expansion in Southeast Asia. She oversaw more than 7,000 hotel rooms and 6,000 workers in Thailand and the Philippines during her time as president of Erawan.

She expounded on how she works with people around and under her management. “My style is very flexible. It’s my job is lead my team to achieve the result we want, so I can be direct and diplomatic at the same time. My other important responsibility is to build my team to succeed me, so coaching and empathy are essential in my routine,” Kamonwan shared.

A goal of learning every day

Her life philosophy of learning and re-learning for self-improvement is reflected in both her personal and professional life. She lives with the goal of learning every day because the hotel industry and the world around her are constantly changing. The only way to keep up is to be open to learning. She believes that the best way to work with uncertainty is to keep learning. Kamonwan also wants others to have this mindset, and she focused much of her attention on staff development.

Another one of her key goals with Erawan was to create and implement sustainable practices throughout its operations. She wanted to develop a sustainable platform for the group to carry it well into the future. The group also gives back to local communities and is mindful that each property should benefit the local community. From hotel construction to operations, the group made sure that locals would gain income from the project. Locals were employed from the hotels’ building phase, and some were employed by the hotels when they were operational.

A product of Thailand’s openness to female leadership

Kamonwan has also shared her experience being a top Thai executive and if being a woman affected her career path in any way. “I’ve never felt that there were barriers for women getting into leadership roles in Thailand, but I do see it is an issue elsewhere. In Thailand in general, you see more and more women given the opportunity to run organizations. We have a very open work culture and are probably in the top 10 countries in the world for the number of women in leadership roles,” she said.

It’s important to note that Thailand is one of the leaders globally that accepts and supports women in leadership roles. According to studies, women hold 37% percent of leadership roles in the country, compared to 24% globally. In terms of education, it ranks first in the world of enrollment of women in higher education. For every man enrolled in university, 1.41 women are enrolled as well.

The world can learn from Thailand’s attitude towards women leading companies and in other leadership positions. Kamonwan explained how the decision-making process works in Thai corporations. “We see diversity at all levels. But in other aspects, we welcome comments from everyone. We don’t do top-down decision-making. Everyone in the company drives the business. Every decision or project, it comes from a team, not from one person. The way we make decisions comes from the different opinions in the team, and it is always cross-functional, and everyone has the same chance to get their views across,” she said in an interview in 2019.

“This approach is quite common, especially among the big corporations in Thailand. That’s why they become so big; I believe that if the organization does not embrace diversity, it is difficult to grow. For family businesses that haven’t yet transformed into that corporate environment, it may be different. There is perhaps not so much diversity there,” Kamonwan explained.

Valuing inclusiveness

Aside from gender diversity, Thai companies value inclusiveness as well. Kamonwan emphasized that it’s more about respecting everyone’s opinion than seeing decision-making as solely coming from management. She has also imbibed this in her own management style and empowers the people around her. For example, when she was working in Erawan, they conducted town hall meetings to encourage employees to give their feedback and comments to management.

Kamonwan is a woman everyone can look up to and should admire. From finance to hospitality, and from an entry-level position to CEO, she made her way to the top through hard work and an open leadership style. Even if she’s leading top corporations, she also makes time for her family. She enjoys traveling with them around Thailand and other countries.

Openness, continuous learning, self-improvement, and flexibility are recurring themes in Kamonwan’s life. Because of these admirable traits, she has led teams of thousands of people to success and continues to be a prominent figure in the hospitality industry. She has made it to the top through the combination of all these traits. “All people make mistakes, but we should not repeat our mistakes. Life should be a process of improvement,” Kamonwan mused. Indeed, these are wonderful words of wisdom from a great leader showing the world how life should be done.

Sources:

Bangkok Times

Grant Thornton

Business Times


Maria Ressa: First Filipino Nobel Peace Prize Awardee

When Rodrigo Duterte became president of the Philippines in 2016, he waged a violent war on drugs that instantly caused deep divisions in the country. Some people agreed with his tactics, while many others considered his so-called war inhumane and unjust. Rappler, a leading digital-only news site led by Maria Ressa, was among those who reported about and spoke out against this drug war.

Who Is Maria Ressa?

Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa is the CEO and co-founder of Rappler. A long-time journalist, she was CNN’s bureau chief in Manila and then in Jakarta for more than a decade. She also held the position of senior vice-president of ABS-CBN’s multimedia news operations. Before Duterte orchestrated its shutdown, ABS-CBN was the largest news organization in the Philippines.

After working for CNN and ABS-CBN, Maria co-founded Rappler in 2012. Since then, Rappler has built a reputation for leading the fight for press freedom in the Philippines, with Maria at its helm. Because of Rappler’s criticism of the Duterte government, Maria has been arrested and charged with several crimes, including cyber-libel. This cyber-libel case and how Maria fought against it caught the attention of the world.

Nobel Peace Prize Among Ressa’s Growing List of Accolades

As Maria continues to spotlight press freedom and how the Philippine government tries to curtail it, her list of accolades continues to grow. She was Time’s Person of the Year in 2018. In 2019, BBC included her in its list of 100 most inspiring and influential women of that year. She also made the 2020 Bloomberg 50 list. And she was the subject of the 2020 Sundance Film Festival documentary, “A Thousand Cuts.”

In 2021, Maria was one of two journalists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The other journalist awarded is Dmitry Muratov of Russia. Maria is the first Filipino to win this acclaimed honor. It was given in recognition of her “efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.” The last time a journalist received a Nobel Peace Prize was in 1935.

Ressa’s Court Battles Continue

Even today, Maria faces criminal charges in the Philippines. In June 2020, the Philippine courts found her guilty of the cyber-libel charge. However, the country passed its cyber-libel law long after Rappler published the article in question. She still has several tax and securities cases pending in local courts.

“I hope today’s Nobel Peace Prize 2021 award will remind the authorities in the Philippines, Russia, and around the world of the need to respect journalists and journalism. Independent journalism holding power to account has never been so important,” Maria said.

Recently, the Philippine Court of Appeals has granted Maria overseas travel after subjecting her to hold orders for the last couple of years. She will be delivering a series of lectures at the Harvard Kennedy School in Boston. However, she will return to Manila in December. To attend the awarding in Oslo, Maria would need to file new travel requests before the courts handling her seven pending cases.

As one of the newest Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Maria continues to inspire people around the world. Whether you see her as a journalist, a woman, or an Asian, her story is worth commending. How she fights for the truth and stands up to injustice demonstrates her strong character, worthy of our admiration.


Maria Ressa: Journalist and Activist

Journalism wasn’t always a life-threatening field of study. Times have changed, however, and some journalists have become activists who risk life and limb—even their freedom—to publish the truth. According to a New York Times article, 2018 was the most dangerous year on record for journalists; this trend has not shown any sign of waning.

No one knows this better than Filipino-American journalist Maria Ressa. She was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year 2018, part of this year’s Bloomberg 50 List, former bureau chief of CNN Philippines and Indonesia, and founder of Manila-based news outlet Rappler. In June of this year, in the middle of a global pandemic, she was convicted of cyber-libel.

Who is Maria Ressa?

Maria Ressa was born in the Philippines and moved to the United States with her family as a young child. She spent her early years living in New Jersey and studied English and Theater at Princeton University. In the 1980s, after the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos came to an end, Ressa decided to return to the Philippines. Back to her roots, she discovered journalism and spent the next 30 years as a television and broadcast journalist working around Southeast Asia. While working as a journalist, she had her first interview with Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who would later become president of the Philippines in 2016.

She is the Chief Executive Officer of Rappler, which she founded in January 2012 along with three other female founders and 12 journalists. With the ultimate goal of building communities while using social media to do good, Rappler has grown into a well-respected independent news outlet known for its investigative journalism.

Before founding Rappler, Maria Ressa spent six years as the news division leader of ABS-CBN, formerly the Philippines’ largest TV network. Earlier this year, ABS-CBN was shut down due to legal issues, although many believe President Duterte had a direct hand in closing the networking giant down. This closure is just another example of the kind of political climate Ressa and other Filipino journalists face.

Covering Duterte’s “War on Drugs”

In 2016, under Ressa’s guidance, Rappler first started to cover President Duterte’s “army of trolls” who were seeding and spreading fake news to millions of his followers online during the Philippine presidential campaign. When he eventually won the election and became President, Rappler began to write stories on the administration’s “War on Drugs,” which killed over 7,000 people between July 2016 and July 2017.

During this dark time, President Duterte ordered the Philippine police to kill anyone they suspected of drug connections. Unsurprisingly, only small-time and usually lower-class drug users and street-side pushers were caught and killed in this brutal war. It left international syndicates and influential drug dealers who control the drug trade unscathed. Reporting on this is what put Rappler and Ressa in the spotlight and right in front of President Duterte’s line of fire. That would be the beginning of Ressa’s legal battles.

Her Legal Battles

Maria Ressa’s current legal battles stem from an 8-year old story that Rappler published alleging a Filipino business person had links to illegal drugs and human trafficking. The story was published in 2012, four months after the “cyber-libel law” was passed. In 2014, the story was re-published due to a typo, and the courts declared that it fell under the jurisdiction of the said law.

During the proceedings, the judge stated that Rappler did not offer proof of their allegations and convicted Maria Ressa with cyber-libel. She now faces the possibility of serving six years in jail. According to Ressa and Rappler, the case was politically motivated. Since 2018, there have been 11 cases filed against Rappler, including tax evasion and foreign ownership violations.

As her legal battles grew, so did her profile, both locally and internationally. She has become known worldwide as a symbol of standing up for the truth and battling an authoritarian president and would-be dictator. As Maria Ressa has said in an interview, “In a battle for facts, in a battle for truth, journalism is activism.”

An Inspiring Voice

The 2020 documentary “A Thousand Cuts,” produced by fellow Filipino-American Ramona S. Diaz, features Ressa. The film covers Maria Ressa and Rappler as they put up a fight against President Duterte’s attack on them and, inevitably, on freedom of the press. Throughout the film, Maria Ressa is a beacon of hope and strength-showing her humanity by voicing out her fears, yet never giving up on what she believes is right.

She has become an inspiring voice around the world. When Ressa talks about the attacks on freedom of speech, the truth, and facts, she is not just talking about the state of the Philippine press and politics but the state of the world. In this day and age, where people can get the news with a click of the button, they can also get fake news and lies at just the same speed. It has become Maria’s advocacy to stand up for facts and not give in to political pressure.

Currently, Maria Ressa is out on bail and still publishing. Rappler continues to cover the Philippines’ daily news, together with fearless views on the current Philippine administration. Ressa continues to stand for what she believes in and to fight the legal cases piling up against her and Rappler. It is interesting to note that in “A Thousand Cuts,” she asks the lawyer what the worst case can be filed against her. Her lawyer answered that it didn’t matter because the government would find the opportunity to file any claim against her, even child abuse, in their attempt to silence her.

From journalist to activist, Maria Ressa inspires journalists and women around the world with her strength and poise. She is an excellent example of the power of an individual who refuses to give up on facts and continues to fight for the truth.


Kamala Harris – A Woman of Many Firsts

The year 2020 has been historic in more ways than one. Despite being a year that many people would like to forget, it was also filled with remarkable firsts. It was the first time the US elected a woman to the second-highest position in government. Vice president-elect Kamala Harris made history and has become a bright light in these dark times. Not only is she the first woman vice president, but she is also the first African-American and first Asian-American to occupy this esteemed position. 

She shattered the infamous glass ceiling for women by being elected vice-president. More than that, she also broke through the “concrete ceiling” – a term used to describe the obstacles women of color particularly face. She went through it all with positive energy and a smile on her face. Kamala is a beacon of hope for women around the world, as she herself said during her victory speech, “While I may be the first woman in this office, I will not be the last, because every little girl watching tonight sees that this is a country of possibilities.” 

Her early years

Kamala Devi Harris was born in 1964 to immigrant parents, her mother Shyamala Gopalan Harris from India, and her father Donald Harris from Jamaica. Both her parents migrated to the United States to study for doctorate degrees at the University of California, Berkeley. This is where they met, got married, started a family, and continued pursuing their own careers. It would be natural to assume, and rightly so, that the environment that Kamala and her sister Maya were exposed to at a young age helped shape who they are today. With both parents being accomplished in their own fields and active in the civil rights movement, it was inevitable that these factors would influence Kamala and Maya in their own career choices. 

Kamala has said, “My parents marched and shouted in the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. It’s because of them and the folks who also took to the streets to fight for justice that I am where I am.” 

Her parents divorced in 1971, and Kamala and her sister were mostly raised by their single mother. They moved to Montreal, where Kamala finished high school before going back to the US to study political science and economics at Howard University. She, later on, obtained her law degree from Hastings College. 

Her mother Shayamala had a huge impact on Kamala’s life, and she often mentions her even today. In her own words, “There is no title or honor on earth I’ll treasure more than to say I am Shyamala Gopalan Harris’s daughter.” Sadly, her mother passed away from cancer in 2009 and is not here today to see how far her daughter has come. Despite this, Kamala never fails to mention just how much influence her mother had on her life and accomplishments.

A woman of many firsts

Throughout her life and her career, Kamala has been breaking barriers. We all know that she’s about to become the first woman Vice President, but she had many firsts even before she made her presence known on the national stage. She was also the first woman, the first African-American, and the first Asian-American woman to become the attorney general of California. In the Senate, she is the first Indian-American to serve as Senator while also being only the second African-American woman to hold this position. She is also the first Vice President to graduate from a historically black college, Howard University. 

Her husband Doug Emhoff also contributes to her string of firsts – he will be the first second gentleman and the first Jewish spouse of a US Vice President. Kamala didn’t set out to become the first in all these things – she accomplished them by following her own path and working hard towards her goals. Something we can all learn from. Kamala serves as an inspiration to women all over the world. She also shows that women can truly be trailblazers in any field.

Her love of cooking

For all her professional accomplishments, Kamala has also become famous for one more thing – her love of cooking. She is a self-professed passionate home cook and has shared a few of her personal recipes on her social media accounts. Recently, she shared a step-by-step recipe of her family’s favorite cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. “During difficult times, I have always turned to cooking,” Kamala has said. Cooking is a source of comfort for her, and this passion started when she was a young child watching her own mother in the kitchen. 

“One of the things that I do to relax at the end of the day is I read recipes,” she shared in 2018, something many people can relate to. Now, we can all imagine her flipping through her favorite cookbooks after a long day at work. This open love of cooking is another thing that makes Kamala stand out from other career politicians. Her willingness to share snippets of her personal life with others is a wonderful way she connects to people. 

Kamala Harris and the future

The past few years in the US have not been easy, with racial and political divisions growing and becoming more evident in everyday life. Kamala Harris winning as vice president is a much-welcome change and a refreshing breath of fresh air. She serves as an inspiration to both women and people of color everywhere. 

We can all learn a lesson or two from Kamala and her journey — the importance of family, the influence of a mother’s love and example, and the greatness you can accomplish when you combine hard work and heart, no matter your circumstances. It will take many years to overcome the negativity and discord that have been sown in the US landscape. However, when there is someone like Kamala Harris helping lead the way to heal these wounds and to create a more equitable and just society, we can allow ourselves to envision and believe in a better future.


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