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Women leaders inspire, motivate at first annual round table breakfast
TUSD Superintendent Dana Trevethan, Carnegie Arts Center Director Lisa McDermott and Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn participate in the inaugural Turlock Womens Leadership Round Table. - photo by CANDY PADILLA/The Journal

If there were ever a glass ceiling in Turlock, it was proven to be shattered Thursday morning at the inaugural Turlock Women’s Leadership Round Table, as the city’s most influential women gathered to talk about the successes and trials that come with being a female leader.

Presented by the Turlock Journal and sponsored by Emanuel Medical Center, Winton, Ireland, Strom & Green, Turlock Irrigation District and Yonan’s Floral, the event featured a panel of 14 female leaders who shared with the audience their advice for the leaders of tomorrow and how they have successfully forged paths into the male-dominated executive workforce.

“As you look across this panel you see some very dynamic, talented, very intelligent women,” said panelist and City Attorney Phaedra Norton. “We recognize that we have made great strides in leadership positions.”

Led by moderator and Journal Editor Kristina Hacker, the panel answered a series of questions meant to spark conversation about their own experiences and the struggles that women still face today.

Panelist and Stanislaus State President Ellen Junn pointed out that although women represent half of the country’s population, they account for less than half of the nation’s leadership roles. However, strides are being made. In the California State University system, 11 of the state’s 23 campuses are now led by women, Junn pointed out, and according to Norton, 50 percent of the City of Turlock’s executive leaders are female.

President and Chief Executive Officer of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce Karin Moss was a speaker on the panel and shared how a go-getter attitude helped her climb the ladder of success, no matter what job she was working.

“What I’ve learned over the years is you get what you think you’re going to get,” said Moss. “My very first secretarial job on my first day my boss said, ‘Coffee,’ and I said ‘I would be delighted.’”

The panelists also touched on societal norms in the workplace that women often have to overcome, such as being seen as softer than their male coworkers.

“There’s a culture that tells people over and over again that a woman should do certain things,” said Vice Mayor Amy Bublak.

Panelists also spoke about the benefits and challenges of being a leader at both work and at home.

“When an opportunity comes around, I absolutely think that as women we have to juggle and prioritize and say, ‘Perhaps this will be difficult; I’m going to have to balance being a single mom, being a good daughter, being a leader,’ and recognize that it can be done, ” said Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Dana Trevethan. “Figure out a way to make it work, balance it and do well at all of it.”

For the final question, each panelist answered, “What advice do you have for the next generation of leaders?”

“Build your village,” said Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities Director Allison Van Guilder, “whether that be a supportive spouse, whether that be parents that help you with your children, whether it be a close-knit group of friends, whether it be a nanny. Whatever is going to help alleviate the pressure and stress of trying to balance work and your personal life, I would encourage you to do that and covet that.”

Small anecdotes and humorous banter were a constant as the panelists shared personal stories, all as breakfast was served to the audience. The event not only focused on local leaders, but local philanthropies as well. Turlock Firefighters Local #2434 turned into waiters for the morning, accepting tips and selling T-shirts to support their breast cancer research fundraising efforts. The firefighters received $654 by way of tips and sold $385 worth of their pink T-shirts. All ticket sales from the event were donated to Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus.