Mothering an important form of leadership: speakers

Frank Gale
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Ann Marie Vaughan, president and chief executive officer of College of the North Atlantic, addresses the International Women’s Day celebratory dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion on Saturday, March 8, 2014.

Although the three female speakers at a women’s event in Stephenville come from different backgrounds and upbringings, they all talked about how mothering plays a large role in polishing leadership skills.

The three panel members addressed a group of people on hand for an International Women’s Day dinner at the Royal Canadian Legion in Stephenville on Saturday evening, sponsored by the Bay St. George Status of Women Council.

The speakers included: Ann Marie Vaughan, president and chief executive officer of College of the North Atlantic; Debbie Brake-Patten, a chiropractor and active volunteer; and Laura Aylward a fourth-term Stephenville town councillor and active community volunteer.

Vaughan said growing up she always had the support of her parents in anything she wished to become involved with. She said that ranged from academics to music to sports. Then while in university she became a bit of a rebel and remembers the efforts of the many mentors she encountered along the way.

She said most were male mentors ... many of them instructors and she appreciated their help along the way.

Vaughan said as a bit of a rebel she always challenged herself and continues to do that in her role as president of the college every step along the way.

But for her, her biggest change came in 2005 when she became a mother.

“It became personal for me as a leader because I wanted to open doors and make a pathway for my daughter,” she said. “It was my parents who did that for me and now I want to do it for my daughter.”

In her professional life she strives to ensure females have the opportunities to advance in a working and learning environment that is safe. She works to ensure female students and staff members have support she said.

“I believe girls and women need that kind of support and to me, parenting and teaching is a vocation,” Vaughan said. “The focus for me is youth and the engagement of young people as the youth are the future and we have to lead them on their pathway,” she said.

Brake-Patten spoke about how her mother was a “rock.” She said her mother was a very strong woman who told her early in life to be independent.

She told those in attendance how, growing up she joined the cadet program, and while their family didn’t have a lot, being a cadet provided her the opportunity to travel and visit different places, which all played into her leadership skills.

“I pursued leadership roles as a result of that ... because I realized if you want change, you have to be part of it. You also have to be humble and really good to people,” Brake-Patten said.

As a mother, she is very proud of what her children are pursuing in their lives.

Her message was to encourage all women to try and reach their potential. Also, to reach out to the current generation, nurture and encourage younger people.

“We need to try and engage these youth and push them into leadership roles,” she said.

Aylward encouraged those in attendance to be proud of their children and encouraged them pursue anything they want to do.

In light of her involvement in the community, she told the women that if they get involved in something to do the best they could at it.

“The key is to have respect for people and as a woman I encourage you to get involved in pursuing leadership. Women have to support one another,” she said.



Organizations: College of the North Atlantic, Royal Canadian Legion

Geographic location: Stephenville

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