If there is one thing that I am truly grateful for, it is that I have had the opportunity to have strong women in my life to mentor and encourage me to realize my own success. The main influence on my professional life was Kay Reed Mirick, SSVA’s founder. I met Kay in January 1997 when I came in for an interview with SSVA. I entered a strange environment of unique individuals. I had no idea who was “in charge” but was greeted with enthusiasm and directed to a dimly lit, smoky room in the middle of the building where a small, blonde woman sat at an antique desk. She guided me into the “wicker room” – the entry space with furnished in white wicker. Kay informed me that when she read my application questionnaire (a collection of what would you do questions) my answers reflected what she would have written, so she wanted me on her team. She was not quite sure what my job would entail but assured me that as we got to know each other it would evolve. So it began, my journey with SSVA.

As I moved through various situations with SSVA, I learned, grew, faced my fears, fell down, got back up, cried, laughed, raged, and loved. Always in the background was Kay, encouraging me to challenge myself and others and provide wisdom, motivation, and honest (sometimes difficult to hear) feedback when needed. In yoga a Guru is someone who serves as a counselor, who helps mold values, shares experimental and literal knowledge, and an inspirational source who helps in the spiritual evolution of a student. I am forever grateful that Kay took me in and offered me this gift. Sadly our time together was much too short. When Kay died in 2005, I felt like a child on the bike for the first time without training wheels. It was a shaky and scary ride to start (I was sure I would fall) but I had with me all the lessons Kay had imparted on me to prepare for this time.

Last month I was humbled to receive VNPP’s 2018 Leadership Award. I was nominated by one of SSVA’s gifted QIDP’s, Renee Charity. After joining SSVA in 2008, Renee moved through the path of leadership from DSP to her current role as Senior Day Support QIDP. As I read the words she wrote to nominate me for this award I was struck by how they mirrored my relationship with Kay. Without my realizing, Kay had given to me a gift far greater than any professional accolades or accomplishments – the ability to pay it forward. Today my success is truly realized by helping others realize theirs.

Congrats to Andie!