Southern Women Lean In to Inspire

How do women overcome obstacles to Think Big and help others do the same? Women Ground Breakers, now part of the international Lean In movement, tackled the question at their September Think Tank session. Their Success Stories and How-to Stories have inspired family members, colleagues, friends, community leaders, church youth groups, and former inmates. Their Words of Wisdom will inspire you, too.

Brenda Freeman Short -- attorney and public speaker

"I never planned to be a lawyer but with encouragement from my husband, I applied for law school. I had three days to submit my paperwork. I then had to take the LSAT (Law School Aptitude Test) and had only two weeks to study."

She passed the LSAT and moved to Nashville where she was accepted into law school. "Studying law was a challenge and at times I felt that I could not meet the challenge. My faith was a great strength to me and sustained me in the difficult days. I accomplished the goal and received my Doctor of Jurisprudence."

The Bar exam was her next step, but she was not successful. "I felt like a failure, but since then, I've learned that a closed doors leads to a much better door/path. My law degree gave me confidence. My education has enabled me to help those who cannot help themselves. I work with former women inmates and travel around the world helping women get an education for a better life. Had I passed the Bar, I would never have had the experience of running for congress."

Brenda's Wisdom: "Be willing to step out of your Comfort Zone!"

Ardena Garth Hicks -- attorney and former public defender

Ardena shared how she kept a struggling employee motivated when she failed the Bar exam, and, with humor and empathy, revealed her own struggles with the exam. As Tennessee's first African-American female public defender, her optimism and faith were always with her. "I had the opportunity for the past 25 years to be the public defender for Hamilton County, but with the 2014 August elections outcome, God told me that there are other opportunities for me. I'm able to focus my efforts to inspire others that they are not their circumstances and the sky's the limit."

Ardena's Wisdom: "Circumstances and obstacles do not define who you are."

Tina Player -- Event planner and coordinator

Retirement from a career with the US Postal Service released Tina's inner entrepreneur. She's also a community builder and teaches Kids Today - -Scholars Tomorrow. "After listening to each of these women, I'm inspired to continue on my journey. We each have a life story and in some way inspire and encourage many."

Tina's Wisdom: "If you never feared, you would never be challenged to succeed."

Leanne Barron -- consultant and motivational speaker

Leanne has lived and worked in many cities and regions around the US. She recently left a position with Volkswagen to create her own business. An entrepreneur and motivational speaker, she encourages others, "Think about your passion, about what makes you come alive. Is it a particular issue? Is it something you want to change? What's stopping you?"

Leanne's Wisdom: "Use your voice, tell your stories, focus on your unique perspective and gifts and inspire others to come alive and change the world with you."


It's a privilege to lead the Women Ground Breakers' Think Tank. Our next session explores Women and Global Leadership. Stay tuned for the next installment of Southern Women Lean In.