St. Cloud Times: Value women’s voices and build a better future for all

Mary Dana Hinton, College of St. Benedict
St. Cloud Times Published 5:00 p.m. CT April 26, 2019

Mary Hinton

In just over two weeks, the College of St. Benedict will graduate more than 400 women who are ready to make their mark on the world. For four years, faculty, staff, community members and friends of the college have nurtured our students’ potential, supported their aspirations and encouraged them to think critically, lead courageously and advocate passionately.

We’ve done the mission work of educating and inspiring. The students have done the hard work of learning and growing. Now the question becomes: How much of that unlocked potential will be realized?

The answer to this question resides in what we all are willing to do to build and support women’s leadership. As we in the St. Cloud area endeavor to develop excellence in businesses, communities, nonprofits, government agencies and families, we need to be intentional about supporting women’s leadership.

There is much in the news today about the value and importance of women’s voices. Yet, those messages often are presented as only for or about women. I suggest that hearing and benefiting from women’s voices is a human issue, not only a women’s issue.

So, what can we do to support women’s leadership and create a better future for us all?

The values that will support women’s leadership and success also make humanity stronger.

First, we need to ensure that we nurture and support the voice of another; we must make room for more voices to be heard. We need to create a space that enables the twin leadership demands of courage and vulnerability – recognizing that there are multiple ways to do and be both – to unfold. And, we must provide opportunities to take risks, fail and develop resilience. These characteristics are all essential to the development of strong leaders. We must endeavor to encourage the women we know and care for as they develop these skills.

When women’s leadership is intentionally and actively developed, great things can happen. Our businesses, our communities and our society require talented women leaders.

Best Buy recognized this by selecting Corie Barry (CSB class of 1997) to become the company’s first female CEO in June.The financial sector in San Francisco acknowledged this by naming Schwab’s Terri Kallsen (CSB class of 1990) “Financial Woman of the Year,”an award that honors exceptional women leaders in finance and financial services.And the Bush Foundation recognized this, selecting St. Cloud’s Hudda Ibrahim (CSB class of 2013)as a 2019 Bush Fellow,one of just 24 leaders chosen from an applicant pool of nearly 700 for this prestigious fellowship.

We must welcome women who are well-equipped to join us in building a future that opens doors, because failing to embrace the full potential of 60% of our workforce does not serve society – and because each of us wants boundless opportunities available to the women in our region and in our lives. Some women will choose to lead in the boardroom, in the corner office or at the helm of multinational organization. Some women will choose to lead in their home, church or community. For most women, it will be a combination of multiple leadership roles.

Building a stronger and better future for all requires us to listen to, and raise, the voices of women leaders with intentional recognition and action to engage, empower and elevate. Let us be motivated by the exceptional women leaders around us, as they are already constructing the world within we all want to live.

This is the opinion of College of St. Benedict President Mary Dana Hinton. To A Higher Degree is published the fourth Sunday of the month and rotates among the presidents of the four largest Central Minnesota higher education institutions.