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Baker's Dozen: Women Leaders We Admire

Women's Initiative Newsletter

In this issue of the Baker's Dozen we asked the members of our Women's Initiative to tell us a woman leader (public person) they admire and why. There were so many wonderful responses that ranged from scientists to athletes, politicians to activists, corporate giants to judges. This group of leaders is so diverse but one common theme with all of these women is that they pushed the boundaries of what was expected of them and took risks to achieve remarkable, often groundbreaking, results. This group of women leaders is truly inspiring…as are the women who nominated them.

1. Ruth Bader Ginsburg. "The Notorious RBG!" She is an inspiration to all women, and an amazing lesson in the power of persistence in the face of continuous opposition. Her efforts as a litigator before the Supreme Court in the 1970s, and her long tenure on the Supreme Court, have made a greater positive difference in the everyday lives of more American women than anyone else in modern history.

Anne Marie Kempf

2. Megan Rapinoe. She and her team are leading the charge on winning the cup, equal pay, and facilities for women soccer players! Plus they are amazing to watch!

Cynthia Blake Sanders

3. Rosa Parks. Often we think that to make a difference or to inspire others, we have to take bold, big steps. Therefore, the enormity of taking that big step, of leading, of doing important things often holds us back. Ms. Parks proved that one simple act – saying no – could inspire action. Her simple "No" led to a year-long strike on the Montgomery buses. Her "No" helped inspire an entire generation of both blacks and whites to join in on a chorus of no's to bring down Jim Crow. She proved that we all have it in us to make a difference.

Jan M. Hayden, Shareholder, New Orleans

4. Sara Blakely. As the creator of Spanx, she's a self-made entrepreneurial success who still owns 100 percent of her company, is a mother of four, and the first female billionaire to sign Warren Buffet's Giving Pledge. She's an inspiration!

Blythe K. Lollar

5. Ursula Burns. The first African American female CEO of a Fortune 500 company who has served as a member of the boards of directors for American Express, Uber, National Academy Foundation, MIT, and the US Olympic Committee. She's amazing.

Melissa Goldman

6. Jacinda Ardern. the current Prime Minister of New Zealand, who became the world's youngest female head of government at age 37, had a child soon after taking in office, has led her country with poise in its response in recent tragedy, and has made headway in promoting her agenda (a feat in this day in age regardless whether you agree with her causes).

Marisa Rosen Dorough, Associate, Orlando

7. Malala Yousafzai. A Pakistani advocate for girls' education who became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize after surviving an assassination attempt by the Taliban.

Lacy Rochester, Associate, New Orleans and Kimberly A. Chojnacki, Associate, Houston

8. Harriet Tubman. American abolitionist who, as a slave, made 13 missions to free other slaves on foot by following the stars.

–  Suzanne Lewis, Associate, Atlanta

9. Mother Teresa. She devoted her life to helping society's forgotten ones. She was a role model for all of humanity.

Nancy Scott Degan

10. Marie Curie. French-Polish physicist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win the Nobel Prize twice, and the only person to win the Nobel Prize in two different scientific fields.

Karen Blake, Attorney, Nashville

11. Sally Kristen Ride. American astronaut, physicist, and engineer. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983.  Pioneers like Marie Curie and Sally Ride inspire leaders to achieve the seemingly unachievable.

Karen Blake, Attorney, Nashville

12. Margaret Thatcher. She was the first female prime minister of Britain, did her homework, and sought the opinions of others before she came to a conclusion. She was willing to stand up for the people and principles that she believed in, whether or not it was popular, and she thought "outside the box."

Lauren W. Anderson

13. Theresa May. I admire her tenacity and willingness to persevere under enormous adversity. She was given an impossible task and did her best to achieve it with dignity and intelligence. Watching her respond to grilling and derision in Parliament was a lesson in character.

Martha A. Hartley, Shareholder, Orlando



Baker Donelson professional admitted to the practice of law in Tennessee, Georgia, and California, but not in Florida.

Baker Donelson professional admitted to the practice of law in Louisiana; not admitted in Maryland.

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