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Women’s History Month: Who’s the Most Influential Woman in Your Life?

March is Women’s History Month – a time to reflect on all the accomplishments women have made while remembering that inequities between the sexes still exist.

Women earn less than men on average and continue to be underrepresented in government and the C suite.  These disparities make clear there’s much work to be done in gender parity.

But we also know that this month is an opportunity to recognize all the strong women in our lives and their part in making the world a better place.

We asked Sunrise employees to answer this prompt: “Who is the most influential woman in your life and why?” Here’s what they had to say.

Denise Toussaint, VP Regional Market Manager:

My mom is the woman I admire the most. She passed away in 2002 and left me with some very valuable life lessons. She taught me how to be a strong woman, have compassion for others and embrace my Mexican heritage. This has helped me with both my personal and work life. She taught me to be prepared for whatever the day brings. The one thing I remember the most is her saying, “You are not always going to have a perfect day, but look for the good in every day.”

Sheri Pond, Director of Loan Operations:

My mom. She taught me to ALWAYS work hard, be dependable and set a good example — to be kind and always treat others how I want to be treated.  I have always tried to live by these traits.

Becca Hoeft, Chief Brand Officer:

Over the course of my career, there are a number of women who have influenced me and my leadership style. Some women have taught me about what I don’t want to be as a leader.  I’m thankful for those life lessons as hard as they were. At the same time, it’s the women growing up and in my career who have led by example who have influenced me the most and impacted my leadership style that is inclusive and forward thinking.

I remember Jan.  She was my manager while I was going to graduate school.  She told me, “Don’t box yourself in.”

Then, there were public figures such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who heavily influenced me with messages like, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you,” or “Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”

Sheryl Sandberg also had an influence on me after I read her book, Lean In. “Women need to shift from thinking ‘I'm not ready to do that’ to thinking ‘I want to do that — and I'll learn by doing it.’”

And finally, I’m inspired every day by my female colleagues at Sunrise Banks.  Each of them excels at their unique abilities but they also elevate other women in the bank.  At Sunrise, being a (female) leader is not about you and your successes.  Instead, it’s about the ability to cultivate the future generation of leaders and empower them to greatness. And I’m so glad we are doing this together.

Jenna Pond, Marketing Assistant:

My mom is definitely the most influential woman in my life. She has shown me what excellent work ethic and strong relationships look like. She brings positivity to the room and faces challenges head on. And through all that she is the best gosh darn mom a kid could ever ask for. As we say, she is a SUPER MOM SUPERHERO.

Melodie Carlson, Chief Operating Officer:

My mom (Sandy) has been the most influential woman in my life. She became a single mom of three young daughters by age 28. She struggled financially when we were young and pushed all three of us to obtain college degrees and careers we enjoy while raising children to ensure we could be independent and have financial stability.

Once we were all in school, she began a small business and eventually took the leap to leave a job she didn’t love to follow her dream and do something she really enjoys. She has a strong work ethic and continues to run her business while many her age are retired. She taught us that hard work and determination pays off. She also loves spending time with her family (especially her grandchildren) and definitely believes in the family-first mentality.

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