Opinion: 'For such a time as this'

Posted online

Ratified in August 1920, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote. This amendment gave visibility, voice and even a measure of power – yes, power – to a group of individuals who had long been disregarded. People who felt their influence was limited. People who had good reason to doubt the system would ever change. People like you and me. This year, 100 years after that celebrated landmark, we will gather to honor an astounding group of women who have made their voices heard.

On Oct. 9, Springfield Business Journal will induct its 21st class of Most Influential Women, and I for one cannot wait to know these smart, skilled and highly motivated women better. Please spend some time reading their impressive profiles. Take a moment to reach out to them and congratulate them for their many accomplishments. Find ways to support them in their life’s work. This class is one of many going “confidently in the direction of [their] dreams,” as Henry David Thoreau once said – and together we’ll go farther!

While there are only 20 amazing women chosen each year, there are hundreds more moving throughout our community. Remember to nominate them next time. We live in a day and age where it costs us nothing to lift up our colleagues as stellar examples of leadership, influence and potential. Let’s do so and often. Even (especially?) when someone disagrees with you, you can still celebrate their right to have their voice heard.

As the new CEO of a faith-based nonprofit serving the vulnerable during a global pandemic, I have been thinking a lot about risk. What elements of security and stability would I be willing to risk for the greater good? I am afraid the honest answer would embarrass me. The Victorian women who protested for the right to vote risked everything from social stigma to physical harm – just for having the audacity to believe that the government that ruled them also should represent them. While it was far from easy, they somehow used the influence they had to influence a nation. The 2020 class of MIW, as well as the classes that have come before, are being recognized for their tremendous influence. John Maxwell reminds of the significance of this acknowledgement when he wrote, “Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.”

How this influence is invested has never been more critical.

It’s no secret that my faith plays a huge role in who I am and how I see the world. In light of current events, and by way of offering extra encouragement for those in leadership, I share a quote from the book of Esther: “And who knows but that you have come to (this) position for such a time as this?”

Congratulations, again, SBJ 2020 Most Influential Women! Make the most of it.

Jaimie Trussell is the CEO of Council of Churches of the Ozarks and a 2019 Most Influential Women honoree. She can be reached at jtrussell@ccozarks.org.