For generations, women of all backgrounds have been changing the world with their historic firsts.
Annually, in March, during Women’s History Month, we reflect on truly exceptional women from history who were the first to achieve a title or award in their field.
Though it might seem normal for women to fill certain roles today, for the first woman of color in Congress, Patricia Mink, and the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, it was anything but. They had to face discrimination based solely on their gender, and work twice as hard to overcome those obstacles, proving to the world that women could do it.
Polish scientist Marie Curie received the Nobel Prize for physics in 1903 for her research on spontaneous radiation. She won the prize for chemistry eight years later in 1911 for her work in radioactivity.
Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize. She won the Pulitzer for her 1921 novel, “The Age of Innocence,” which tells the story of choosing between love and duty in Gilded Age New York.
In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. A native New Yorker, she had started swimming from a young age and competed in the 1924 Olympics.
In 1928, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly a plane across the Atlantic Ocean, and she was the first person to fly over both the Atlantic and Pacific. Before her disappearance, she achieved multiple accolades.
Hattie Caraway’s husband, Thaddeus Horatio Caraway, was a prominent politician at the time and Caraway notably worked on his campaigns behind the scenes. In the 1920’s, Thaddeus Caraway served four terms in the House of Representatives and two terms in the Senate representing Arkansas. After he passed, Hattie was chosen to take over his seat in the Senate in 1931. Caraway then won the 1932 election with 92% of the vote.
There are so many others to aspire to such as Madeleine Albright, Rita Moreno, Frida Kahlo, Vera Wang, Julia Child, Nancy Lieberman, Michelle Obama, and Katherine Graham to name a few. Another who is no longer among us is my mother who taught me the value of hard work, selflessness, the power of commitment, to never give up, the importance of having values and integrity and how to be both brave and courageous.
Congratulations to Roberta Cooper Ramo, the first female President of the American Bar Association who is one of 10 ABA female presidents in a new video that reflect on the suffragist sisterhood.
When I look to each of these women and their achievements, one cannot help but be humbled. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be the first at something! Life sometimes unfolds at its own pace and not always by the timelines we create for ourselves. There is no doubt that I have been laser-focused on my role within the CMBF, absorbing all the profound images that our organization represents and learning from mentors along the way like Mitch Blair, Drew Parobek, Stephanie Trudeau, and Carter Strang, whom I have admired. A true leader shows up in the community to make a real impact, regardless of their job, title, or position.
Achieving far reaching goals requires perseverance and resilience. I am truly grateful that life’s timing worked out this year and look forward to all the challenges, hard work, celebrations, and endurance that being the first Affliliate Member to be the President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation requires.
“She believed she could- so she did!” So, I say, it is a pleasure to be leading in Twenty-Twenty WON!
Lee Ann O’Brien is the Chief Marketing Officer with The McGregor Foundation, where she has sought opportunities to partner with industry colleagues to contribute to new business development in the community. Her philanthropic commitment has helped many organizations. Lee Ann has consistently found ways to advance the quality of life and collaborative opportunities throughout her career. Throughout her CMBF board terms, Lee Ann has dedicated her efforts toward the Communications Committee, Public Servants, Fellows, Halloween Run for Justice and Special Events by co-chairing Rock the Foundation in 2020 and 2018.