“I once had a rose named after me and I was very flattered. But I was not pleased to read the description in the catalogue: ‘No good in a bed, but fine up against a wall.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Every semester, I engage in an activity with my leadership students at the USC School of Social Work where they have to nominate a leader from the recent past or history that they would willingly follow. We always engage in interesting discussions about the diverse group of people my students identify. I, however, am totally predictable. Eleanor Roosevelt is my pick.
Here are a few of the things I admire about Roosevelt: She faced controversy head on. She was willing to be outspoken, particularly for her stands on racial issues. She was the first presidential spouse to hold press conferences, have a radio show, write a syndicated newspaper column, and speak at a national convention. And on a few occasions, she publicly disagreed with her husband’s policies. She advocated for expanded roles for women in the workplace, the civil rights of African Americans and Japanese Americans, and the rights of World War II refugees.
I beamed with pride when I learned Eleanor Roosevelt played a part in AWC history. AWC inaugurated the Headliner Awards in 1939 to honor members who had made outstanding contributions to the field. The group gave Eleanor Roosevelt honorary membership for her efforts to aid female communicators. The First Lady’s most notable action was to close her news conferences to male reporters.
Eleanor Roosevelt clearly knew the power of the written and spoken word. She recognized that being the First Lady provided a formidable platform from which she could leverage her strong communications skills to lobby for change.
I think we have a lot to learn from Eleanor Roosevelt. She would be proud of our efforts to focus on the craft of effective communications as a group of women looking to advance our mutual interests.
This winter AWC-SB will focus on some of the “business” of communications. I hope you join us for the panel presentation on Wednesday, February 6 at Antioch on Why Women in Communications need to Negotiate. This program should be fun, interesting and filled with valuable information for everyone. It’s probably no secret that most women aren’t very good at negotiating for themselves.