Dickerson Oxton - March 2019

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MAR. 2019




Leaders and Role ModelS THE WOMEN WHO INSPIRE ME


This being Women’s History Month, I wanted to take some time to reflect on a few of the women who have directly inspired me. There are plenty of women from history I could draw on who are widely celebrated leaders, but I want to keep this article more personal. Therefore, I’ve decided to shine a spotlight on two women frommy own life because I wouldn’t be where I am today without them: my fellow attorney, Nancy Wilson, and my mother. Nancy is a trailblazer in the legal community. While in her 30s, this former Pennsylvania schoolteacher decided to put herself through law school, and soon after, she was working her way up the ladder at one of the largest firms in Philadelphia. That’s when she was offered partner at a firm right here in Kansas City. Few women held that title at the time. After making the move, Nancy asked her son to tell his college friends that her firm was looking for a new desk clerk. A young man jumped at the opportunity for the position: my future husband, Tom. After Tom started with her firm, Nancy saw he really cared about the work he was doing and took him under her wing. She mentored him, helping him get into the law school where we eventually met — so in an indirect way, I guess I met my husband through Nancy! After Tom introduced us, Nancy became a role model to me as well.

While I didn’t get the direct tutelage Tom received, Nancy did a lot to prepare me for the unique challenges facing women in law. She’d talk to me about her struggles, even as a partner at her firm, and did her best to give advice on how to deal with men’s intimidation tactics both inside and outside the courtroom. To this day, whenever I find myself struggling against that glass ceiling, I try to put things in perspective. Nancy, like so many other women of her generation, had it even harder than I do now. They pushed against sexism and misogyny every day so that women like me could have the opportunities we have. Things are still far from equal, but thinking of their sacrifice gives me the strength to take a deep breath and trudge forward — not only for myself, but for the next generation, including my daughter. sacrifice gives methe strength to take a deep breath and trudge forward." Speaking of family, the other woman I wanted to shout out this month is my mother. I’ve always looked up to her example. She always made time to play with my brother and me when we were growing up; some of "Things are still farfrom equal,but thinkingof their


my fondest memories from childhood are sitting with my mother, dressing and posing Maple Town toys. And on top of everything else, she was an incredible cook. Now, with two kids of my own, I’mmore in awe than ever at what my mother was able to accomplish. She really was one of those people who made parenting look easy despite the fact my brother and I were probably a handful. To this day, she’s a wonderful grandma, always willing to use her imagination and play with her grandkids. I know that nothing can prepare you for motherhood, but I feel like I had the best possible teacher. Nancy and my mother influenced me in very different ways, but both have informed the woman I am now. From the personal to the professional, it’s important for everyone to have role models they can learn from. That’s why Women’s History Month is so important — to show girls and boys the outstanding women who helped shape this world and set them dreaming about their own bright future. 1 –Chelsea Dickerson









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