I recently heard a motivational speaker presenting to a group of women on the topic of leadership, reminding them to pause and enjoy their success. Amidst our busy schedules, this is not an easy thing to do. I was raised to be humble and told that one must always strive to do better. I believed I had to keep pushing—that today was not enough. It took me a while, but I eventually realized I was missing out on the present by focusing so intently on the future.
This year’s Women of Influence have conquered many obstacles on the road to success. Their paths were never easy, yet they persevered. I hope the exercise of being interviewed caused each of them to stop for a moment and take pride in their accomplishments.
Last month, I attended a Junior Achievement breakfast event and was inspired by the students who spoke. They shared their experiences in the classroom, crediting JA for improving their confidence and gaining a better understanding of work ethic, financial literacy, public speaking and work/life skills. We applaud Mary Pille, JA president, for leading this tremendous organization.
Dr. Rita Ali has been a dynamic leader in the Peoria community since she was in high school. Having served a range of causes and initiatives, she is now making her mark on the Peoria City Council and at Illinois Central College—and she continually pays her success forward, always striving to offer opportunities to others.
Ronda Guyton shows us that one can live with a joyful and positive spirit through all kinds of adversity. Upon been diagnosed with breast cancer, her first thought—within 30 minutes—was not about her, but how she could help others. By sharing her story, she has helped save lives and inspired many others.
Leanne Skuse holds her own and excels in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field. Her leadership at River City Construction is a template for other young women to consider careers related to math, design, engineering and construction. “Don’t be afraid to be unconventional!” she advises.
Jennifer Zammuto has made several career changes while parenting two children and surviving the Washington tornado, among other challenges. From L.R. Nelson and Converse Marketing to Caterpillar Inc. and now the Heart of Illinois United Way, she has always been a team player with her eyes on the greater good.
All of their stories are remarkable, and their influence extends well beyond their families and workplaces. Congratulations to the 2019 Women of Influence—our community is a better place because of you. PM