It’s hard to believe I’m sitting at my table typing out my first article as Chair of Women’s Network.  My main objective this year is to make YOUR year count in Women’s Network.  So I want to hear from you.  If you want to get more involved but just aren’t sure how to take that first step I want to help guide you.  If you are a past Women’s Network leader and feel you’ve already conquered the ranks of Women’s Network, I want to show you all the meaningful ways you can help mentor new leadership.  And if you are someone who just wants to show up for an occasional lunch to network and learn, I want to identify that it’s enough.

My membership with Women’s Network began when I nervously walked into my first monthly luncheon alone and, quite honestly, a bit intimidated.  The introvert in me wanted to run to the bathroom but there was something so empowering about the group it helped me overcome my fears and I challenged myself to sit with someone new at each event.   With time as I entered the room there were more familiar faces and deeper connections, and over a course of time I could easily walk into any business function in Columbia knowing there would be a friendly social network I could build upon.

Leadership is a journey and everyone has their own path and time it takes them to make the distance.  Women’s Network has provided me a course to explore and grow both in my professional and personal life. Countless life lessons have been learned through monthly programming, receiving the Ron Marley Scholarship allowed for me to experience Leadership Columbia 2016 and sitting on the Steering Committee has led me here to the path of Women’s Network Chair.  The biggest wins along the way are the awesome women and men I have met and now get to call friends.

To borrow from the words of Sheryl Sandberg, “It’s time to cheer on women, (and men who support us), who want to sit at the table.”  And possibly gently nudge those who might not think they have what it takes.  It is an exciting time to be a member of Women’s Network.  A brand new Strategic Plan that last year was but a vision of Erica Pefferman, with the Leadership of Ann Merrifield, expertise of Debra Snelling and passion of the Strategic Planning Committee was introduced at the June Luncheon.  Now it is the commitment of this year’s Leadership to set the plan in motion.  To explore and cultivate relationships which make our Network stronger, to identify relevant issues and use our unified voice to advocate.  And it is the perfect time for you to join a committee, apply for a scholarship or reward a Mentor by nominating them for one of our many awards throughout the year.

If you would have told that shy, insecure bookkeeper that one day she would not only be eagerly attending every event, but that she would also be proudly taking the charge to lead she just may have crawled under the table. But honestly, it has led me to my best self. For that I am honored to serve as your next Chair and humbled by the long list of influential women leaders that have held this position before me.  With that I want to challenge you to step up to the table and serve where you can, I promise the rewards will far outweigh the time commitment.   It is YOUR Women’s Network, make it count.


All my best,

Michele Batye