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Women’s History Month: Cumberland Valley Profiles, Part 2

“As society sees what women can do, as women see what women can do, there will be more women out there doing things, and we’ll all be better off for it.” – Ruth Bader Ginsberg

While we should celebrate the accomplishments of women throughout the year, we are determined to be intentional about elevating the stories of significant female leaders throughout Cumberland County during this year’s Women’s History Month. This week’s leaders share their thoughts on leadership and their advice to other women.

Betsy Hamm is the CEO of Duck Donuts. She has been with the company for over six years and in her current role as Chief Executive for two years.

Dr. Linda Fedrizzi-Williams has been President of Central Penn College for the past five years. She joined the College family in 2016 as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs before becoming the college’s 10th President in June of 2018.

Jessica Meyers is the founder and CEO of JEM Group, a woman-owned construction firm. This year they are celebrating 20 years of business.

What qualities make a great leader?

Betsy:  A great leader is inspiring, motivating, commanding, energized, credible, focused, and confident!

Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams: Emotional intelligence, patience, compassion, empathy, the ability to say “No” without guilt. I also firmly believe that great leaders inspire others to be great.

Jessica: Resilience, confidence, compassion, and authenticity.

What do you wish you had known early in your career?

Betsy: You may think you know where you are going, but circumstances and plans change – and while it may not be your original plan, it may end up being better than you ever anticipated! Keep your options open! Your situation is never permanent.

Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams: I recently heard a local female leader say, “You can have it all, just maybe not all at the same time.” That stuck with me.  I am a wife and mother first, and I wish I knew that we don’t have to hide that we are caring for our family if an emergency arises.  Our family enriches us; they do not distract us or detract from us. I also wish I knew how many other women experience “imposter syndrome” and came to realize that “Yes, we are good enough.”

Jessica: Early in my career, I wish I would have known that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.  Great leaders have the ability to show humility by admitting weaknesses and leveraging the talents of those around them.

What piece of advice would you give to young girls/women interested in your industry?

Betsy: Get connected! Network with others within the industry. Find a mentor. Do an internship. The more connected you are, the more opportunities will arise. Be resilient! It’s just as important to have fun as it is to work hard. Love what you do!

Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams: Build knowledge, but more importantly, build relationships. Start with your family.  Listen to learn, and know mistakes and defeat are really opportunities in disguise.

Jessica: Do not be afraid to try something completely out of your comfort zone.  That is how I landed in construction.  I love the quote from Richard Branson, “If somebody gives you an amazing opportunity, but you aren’t sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”

What female public figure, past or present, inspires you and why?

Betsy:  There are many great female public figures, but I enjoy following Sara Blakely, the founder/CEO of Spanx. She has built a billion-dollar empire yet has remained incredibly authentic and continues to focus on supporting women entrepreneurs.

Dr. Fedrizzi-Williams: I have many strong female role models, but the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is by far one of my favorites. She was a fellow New Yorker who made such major and enduring strides in women’s rights, particularly to combat inequities in pay. She was a brilliant jurist who found the perfect balance of head and heart; she was highly intellectual but also compassionate and full of character.

Jessica: Eleanor Roosevelt was an incredible woman.  Her success was not about money, power, or fame but rather about building something that would benefit other people.   That’s a philosophy I’ve instilled here at JEM.

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