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She’s Different: Reach for the stars!

Among all the great legends in women’s history, I’m so thankful that most of my influencers are nurturing family members and amazingly gifted colleagues. I especially appreciate the strong women in my family who have influenced me to make history, like my grandmother and great-grandmother. As I prepare to co-host and keynote at Lean Frontiers’ International Kata Summit (a.k.a. KataCon8) this Thursday and Friday in Jekyll Island, Georgia, I periodically catch myself doing a spirited happy dance! Co-hosting and presenting again at KataCon is such a monumental moment in my life. This experience is yet another fruit from the seed of vision and fearlessness my mom, Delores Wardelle, planted in me when I was just a little girl. At one time, I envisioned keynoting at KataCon. Not only did that happen during KataCon6 (2019), I made history during KataCon7 (2020) as the first Black person to co-host the conference.

I’m also excited about the other HERstory-making moments that will happen this year led by the extraordinary women of the Kata Girl Geeks (KGG). KGG started with one creative and curious person who deeply desired to learn. It has since developed into a global group of women coming together to enjoy the learning zone while practicing the Improvement Kata and Coaching Kata through “exploring, activating and accelerating scientific thinking.” During KataCon8, we’ll see Tracy Defoe, Gemma Jones and Julie Simmons in action. All are core members of the Kata School Cascadia and some of the most inclusive, engaging, extraordinary Kata coaches on the planet. Tracy, Gemma, Julie and other KGG members like Susan Clancy will lead live coaching cycles throughout the conference. As a KGG member, I know firsthand how much these coaches sacrifice and unselfishly pour into others for the sake of helping women dream great dreams and find the answer to whatever is on the other side of “Wouldn’t It Be GREAT?”

"Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life." — Dr. Mae Jemison.

It is critically important that we, as women, continue to encourage, uplift and support one another, as well as remind the little girls in our lives to dream big and reach for the stars! Dr. Mae Jemison, one of my sorority sisters who is also a doctor, engineer and NASA astronaut, knew she wanted to study science at a very young age. “Jemison grew up watching the Apollo airings on TV, but she was often upset that there were no female astronauts. However, Jemison was inspired by African-American actress Nichelle Nichols, who played Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek. Jemison was determined to one day travel in space.”

A few weeks ago, I was reminded of the impact that can be made when women join forces and use our gifts to encourage girls to explore, activate and accelerate scientific thinking. I facilitated a Strategic Visioning Experience™ organized by The Raising the Standard Foundation in conjunction with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.® Beta Mu Omega chapter in Fort Worth, Texas. The Foundation promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers for girls in fifth through eighth grades. In the last three years, more than 600 girls have attended the Math & Science AKAdemy. What made the experience even more enjoyable was having fellow Kata Girl Geek Jennifer Snow-Boscolo share about pursuing her engineering degree and being the only woman in the classroom. She concluded by saying, “women are amazing engineers, and I love inspiring young girls to consider STEM fields.”

Thank you to the amazing women in my life who are not only living their lives to the fullest but who also are coaching, supporting and motivating other women and girls to do the same. Keep reaching for the stars and rejoice in the fact that when people meet you, they walk away exclaiming, “She’s Different!”

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