The future is female. Girl Boss. Lean In.

These women empowerment statements and phrases have been embraced by pop culture and have motivated many women of all ages to express their talents in their communities. What’s more is that these phrases have moved beyond the hashtag status and offered a platform for women to express the challenges they face to reach their professional goals.

In May, my daughter Caroline graduated from college and, today, she’s entering a new professional landscape that offers more opportunities and equity for female graduates than in the recent past. Just two years ago, women made up the majority of the U.S. college-educated labor force.

The power of female leaders is reflected on our own home turf in Cobb. Women are in leading positions in government, business, education, the arts, non-profits and in all facets of our community.

This month, the Cobb Chamber’s June Marquee Monday event marks the 30th anniversary of the Woman of Distinction Award. This award is given annually by Cobb Executive Women (CEW), a networking and professional development group based out of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce. Originally named the Glass Ceiling Award, the award was given to men and women, including such notables as Bill Kinney of the Marietta Daily Journal, Sam Olens of Dentons, and Lisa Crossman of Cobb and Douglas Public Health. Today, the Woman of Distinction award recognizes a woman who has demonstrated exceptional leadership through her professional endeavors, community involvement, ethical sensitivity and social responsibility. Since 2014, the award has illuminated the contributions of Shan Cooper, Judge Mary Staley, Dr. Yolanda Graham, Holly Tuchman, Allison Giddens and Kim Gresh.

Thirty years ago, the professional landscape for female college graduates certainly looked different. This is why programs like Cobb Executive Women are so important. This program was spearheaded by one of Cobb’s most beloved female leaders, the longtime Kennesaw State University President Betty Siegel. Today, the program features a growing membership focused on inspiring women to achieve success personally, professionally and within their community.

Mitzi Smith Moore offers this testimonial: “Cobb Executive Women provides a positive, inspirational, relevant and diverse educational program targeted to strengthen our community by developing vibrant female leadership in a collaborative environment. I am personally grateful for our Cobb Chamber and the supportive program for women.”

Through monthly luncheons, socials, and various volunteer opportunities, CEW cultivates relationships among its membership. It connects women with leadership development and mentoring programs to build new skills and support their careers. It promotes and advocates for women and diversity in leadership. And it supports community organizations that focus on women and girls.

In addition to these goals, CEW highlights the key roles Cobb’s women leaders play in the economy and community and explores how women-owned businesses continue to flourish in Cobb’s business community.

This month, you can join CEW for its Community Outreach Event on June 22. CEW is partnering with MUST Ministries for their reimagined Summer Lunch program. Volunteers are needed to help MUST reach its goal of providing breakfast and lunch to 6,000 children over nine weeks.

With every program and every event, the Cobb Chamber strives to offer a welcoming and encouraging environment where members can share their stories, make connections and learn new skills. Cobb Executive Women is an important offering that helps forge lasting connections and clear a path for future growth and success. My invitation to you is to join us at Marquee Monday on June 14 as we honor the work of another trailblazing woman in Cobb and commemorate the 30th anniversary recognizing women of distinction.

John Loud is the Cobb Chamber of Commerce 2021 Chairman and president of LOUD Security Systems, Inc.

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John Loud is the Cobb Chamber of Commerce 2020 Chairman and president of LOUD Security Systems, Inc.

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