Each member of our “influential women” list has a story of influence they shared. For Carrie Gartner, it wasn’t one person who influenced her most; rather a type of person. “It has always been people who have been supportive and open and effusive with praise for anyone,” Gartner says. “They are the people who find a seat for anyone at the table.”

For Teresa Maledy, it was a manager who gave her the promotion she was perhaps not quite ready to get, but knew she deserved. “He just really inspired people,” she says. “They were devoted to him, they were committed to his vision, but he gave people a lot of leeway, he was willing to delegate, he would kind of lead by asking questions. So he was a true inspiration.”

For Michele Spry, it’s her “Golden Girls,” a group of women she met through Leadership Columbia. It’s Michele, Shelly DeVore, Sarah Dubbert, and Lindsay Young Lopez. “We would drop anything we were doing at any given time for one another if there was anything professionally or personally that we needed. Each one of us knows that we could lean on each other to get stuff done.”

For me, my earliest and biggest influence is my mother. A single mom working in sales, she would cold call the areas no one else would touch. (As an incompetent salesperson, I am in awe of her ability to talk to anyone at any time.) She has given her all to everything she has ever done, whether it’s pursuing her artistic dreams as a photographer or managing international business accounts. She taught me that hard work leads to great things. She also teaches me about balance, something she learned later in life and has tried to teach me. I haven’t quite grasped that concept, but she’s still working on me.

This issue was about recognizing those women in the business community who might not even realize all the lives and businesses they have touched. There are 10 women on our “most influential” list, but I wish we could have included 50. Our goal was to recognize some amazing women, and I think we’ve achieved that (see page 38).

You might think some faces are missing from our list. It’s been an interesting transitional period for many high profile women like Vicki Russell and Karen Miller, who have moved on to retirement or new endeavors (page 50 and 56). We focused on women still in their careers and making waves. It’s been fun to recognize some women who, a year ago, might not have made the list. It’s fun to think about what the list will look like in another five years.

Think about who has been a mentor in your career — pick up the phone and call her. Say thank you. We should spend time recognizing the people who have shaped us.

Enjoy our first Women Issue.

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