This month at Jersey Cares we are celebrating Women’s History Month by inviting some of our friends to share their thoughts and experiences on the women who have inspired them. Today we feature a piece by Michelle Dee, Senior Director of External Affairs at Jersey Cares.
Change is a constant. Over the past two years I have experienced quite a bit of it. A West Coast girl, relocating to New Jersey provides ample opportunity for reflection. Add to that a complete career transition and the loss of the ability to wear flip flops 365 days a year, and you can see the obvious case for introspection. On top of that, Women’s History Month got under my skin this year. I don’t know if it because of the transitions I am experiencing or maybe the fact that I am, undeniably, getting older. I have spent a lot lately focusing on the women who have gotten me here. There have been so many women that have inspired me and whose shoulders I have stood on, or whom have reached back and pulled me up with them. The women who have helped me get here, whose names I know, are too many to list, let alone the ones who blazed the trails I don’t even know about. Each person is a blog entry in their own rite.
Someone told me recently though, that the more time you spent looking back the harder it was to move forward. So, as I honor the past, I have been focusing on living in the moment and looking to the future. I think often about the world we are leaving our children. I contemplate the legacy we am creating for our boys and the things we have given and taught them. At work I find it is almost a mandate that we look forward. In non-profit, as we acknowledge the forces that got us to where we are, usually the more important focus is how we are going to change going forward. I have been with Jersey Cares for one year now. It seems like a perfect fit for this time in my life. I have always loved a good challenge, so jumping into the non-profit world with both feet seemed logical. I thought I had something to give. What I couldn’t truly comprehend was how much I would receive.
Every single day I have the honor of working with the future. I help lead a team that often reminds me of kids. As I sit and type this, I can hear them laughing from their desks and I can differentiate the subtleties of their laughter. I can predict who will give who a hard time for what. I can also tell you that each day every one of them is changing the world in their own way. They aren’t all women, but they make the things they touch better with the things they do every day. They are creating incremental changes that make a difference. They have passion and energy and enthusiasm and want to make the world a better place…for everyone. In their enthusiasm, I have found my passion.
I can’t help but honor the past. At the same time, change is constant. This amazing team I have the honor of leading has let me know that it is time to let go of the hands that pulled me up and instead, reach back and pull others up with me. It is time to let others stand on my shoulders. This team of amazing people that I work with has changed my story. They have helped change my history. I can think of no better way to honor those that I owe a debt of gratitude than by continuing their legacy.