Martha Michael: Passing the mantle of the movement

From left, Linda Hafizi, Marlee Lauffer, Sue Nevius, Holly Schroeder and Calvin Hedman were among the crowd of about 125 people on Thursday night at the Santa Clarita Valley Business Journal’s first Women in Business Awards. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

Several things happened this week that made it royally cool to be female.

The birth of another boy to the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Will & Kate) underscored a new kind of equality: The monarchy’s succession to the throne – extended to sons and daughters since a legislative change five years ago – became more pronounced this week, as Princess Charlotte is positioned in front of the new baby boy, who is fifth in line to the throne.

With the long, successful reigns of such leaders as Elizabeth I, Elizabeth II and Victoria, it was surprising that female descendants of royalty were, sort of, a consolation prize, only taking the throne if there was no older brother, as in the case of the current queen.

Women in the workplace

For men who are struggling to accept their place in line, there is cause for celebration this week too. Yesterday was Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, a non-profit, educational program held on the fourth Thursday of April. It began 25 years ago as simply Take Our Daughters to Work Day and added sons in 2003. It may have taken the British monarchy a millennium to discover the changing tea leaves, but Americans woke up and smelled the coffee in just a decade. It’s a rich blend called inclusiveness.

Take our Daughters and Sons to Work Day, now involving approximately 35 million individuals, was created to encourage girls to take pride in their intelligence and to expose them to role models in various professions, according to the National Women’s History Museum. Many businesswomen here in Santa Clarita got their start this way – watching mom and dad work.

Tania Mulry is the founder of Steamwork Center in Valencia, a creative business community and shared office space that connects independent businesses and entrepreneurs. She builds partnerships and fosters productivity by nurturing growth and highlighting job prospects.

“My dad was a librarian and I worked in the library from the time I was 5 years old,” Mulry said. “I alphabetized, shelved books, used microfiche (blast from the past), helped people find books and watched him build the first computer system for managing the library. Working with my dad in the library (and getting paid) made me feel valuable and gave me many important business skills very early in life.”

Lesa Evans, principal consultant at recruiting company Brick Elm, said she spent time with both of her parents in the workplace.

“My dad was a photographer, entrepreneur, and graphic designer throughout my childhood near Detroit, Mich. He always had a dark room at home, so my sister and I could both develop film by third grade!” Evans said. “We loved … going wherever he worked because we knew we would get our hands on cool gadgets and supplies for various arts. We got to make something, see cool stuff, and get McDonald’s. It was awesome.”

Evans could sometimes accompany her mother, a paralegal, to the workplace also.

“She typed legal docs in triplicate, 90 words-per-minute on electric manual typewriters with zero errors, and I was so impressed and proud of her,” Evans remembered. “I drew keyboards onto cardboard boxes so I could type, too. It stayed with me as a goal, so I learned in high school and then bought typing tutor software for my home PC, pre-internet, so I could practice.”

Santa Clarita resident Rebecca Kellogg owns an alternative wellness and personal development company. She finds herself patterning after her father, collaborating with others locally, nationally, and internationally.

“My dad was a university professor and he’d take me to campus. He’d show me around his office and introduce me to his colleagues and students,” said the owner of Rebecca Kellogg International. “He recruited students and collaborators from around the world. … I saw firsthand the incredible beauty and unique insight that could come from engaging with people of different cultures and backgrounds.”

Kellogg saw the mirror effect when she worked for an editing service.

“While there I emulated my father’s qualities of constructive collaboration,” she said. “I learned from him … the amazing power we can have to use our creativity and personal insight to create new offerings for the world.”

Recruiting strategist Dezzi Rae Marshall grew up in the Philippines spending time in the office with her father, a COO, and with her mother, a sales executive for the largest TV network in the country.

“I got to grow up around a media environment – teleprompters, lights, cameras, newscasters, cameramen – so speaking and being in front of people and cameras was, to me, normal,” said Marshall, whose mother was also the governor’s campaign manager. “I learned how to organize grass-roots events from being brought to those campaign meetings and rallies. All that I am now and what I do are in large part due to being in the thick of what my parents did.”

Jewels in the crown

Celebrating local women has become a regular part of Santa Clarita’s social landscape.

This week’s young professionals group NextSCV hosted “When Women Lead” with a panel of successful businesswomen.

There’s a free reception tomorrow, April 28, from 4-7 p.m. where visitors can see Santa Clarita artist Idelle Tyzbir’s exhibit, “Women at Work,” at the Topanga Canyon Gallery. Her display draws attention to social evils from spousal abuse to sex trafficking.

On Tuesday, May 1 teenage girls will have a chance to hear from three strong women at Women and Girls in Business … Inspiration for the Future, held at COC’s University Center.

Tickets are still available for the upcoming LUNAFEST, the Zonta Club’s festival of short films by, for and about women, on Thursday, May 3 at the Canyon Theatre Guild in Downtown Newhall.

The 10th Annual WE Build is May 12, a Habitat for Humanity Women’s Empowerment event where females come together for a day of construction in a Homes4Families Veteran Enriched Neighborhood.

The second United State of Women National Summit, or USOW, is coming up in Los Angeles on May 5-6, 2018. It’s a national organization for women’s equality, providing access and connections to empower them.

Power of the (ac)scepter

The women’s movement is a little like a royal cruise. The Queen Mary and the QE2, now retired, caught the headwinds for those who would come after, making it smoother sailing for women who want to get past the breakwater and onto the open sea. And as acceptance of the new inclusiveness grows, the less their lineage has to do with silver spoons or DNA; it simply descends from a long line of hard-working women.

Martha Michael is a contributing writer for The Signal and serves as editor for three local publications. She has been writing professionally for decades and is the author of “Canyon Country” by Arcadia Publishing.

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