The Power of Being Seen
In September, the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota honored our Chief Impact Officer and Senior Vice President, Chanda Smith Baker, with the 2021 Mary Lee Dayton Catalyst for Change Award. Chanda’s acceptance speech inspired us, and so we wanted to share it with you. You can watch her remarks here and follow along with the transcript below.
I think of the countless experiences that I have encountered that have aimed to limit me, but they came into my world to fuel the power that existed within me.
Why is that important? How does this connect? Because there are still far too many people in my community, in our communities, that aren’t honored, seen, and recognized. There are far too many encounters, systems, and beliefs held that limit the individual and collective potential that exist within our communities.
See, I am growing in my understanding of the significance of everyday interactions. The critical role of the “bystander” becoming indignant in their disruption, pointing out the injustices on behalf of our shared community and our shared humanity.
I am deepening my understanding of how one’s life is shaped by the experiences of not being seen, honored, or recognized. The importance of having backup. Thank you to the Women’s Foundation of Minnesota for being the backup, for elevating issues facing women, girls and gender expansive people that have gone unnoticed, and by doing so, validating them. To my sister and my sister friends that are watching and that supported me, I am so thankful; When I call, you answer.
Lastly, I am learning the importance of holding multiple truths. In the last 18 months I’ve really understood more what it’s like to hold pain and joy, the importance of advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and also of understanding that even with all of this intention, we have still not increased the amount of women of color sitting on corporate boards in our city. I can understand and appreciate one’s intention while still challenging how they have made impact. I understand what it means to have a position of power and at times feel powerless.
Last night, I attended the corporate director’s awards and Nancy Dahl said this: “I stand on your shoulders so I can be full-sized. Gratitude to the women, the trailblazers on whose shoulders I stand. My mother, grandmothers, and the Aunties and them.”
To the amazing women that I now join in this recognition, specifically Wenda Weeks Moore and Dr. Reatha Clarke King: Your leadership allows me to see the possibility of mine. Representation matters.
Susan Sands: Congratulations, Sister. I am honored to be sharing this with you, at this time, on this stage. We will forever be connected.
The Women’s Foundation team and trustees, Gloria, Nevada and Lulette: Thank you! May your commitment to gender equality be realized sooner rather than later.
My family, Dad, Shannon, my husband Roland, our crew—Dom, Malik, Elon, Ryland, and Jay: You are the inspiration.
Adair, you know I got a full heart of love for you.
To Mary Lee Dayton: Thank you for all that you did, for all that you knew, and for your commitment to those you knew depended on you seeing and investing in them.
When we see people, and we invest in them, and we understand that their expertise combined with our expertise makes our community better, we do better.
With that said, here’s to strong women.
- May we know them.
- May we recognize them.
- May we raise them.
- May we honor them.
- May we see them.
Thank you so much, community. I am honored to receive this recognition and receive it with the intention of continuing in my pursuit of reaching my most bold self.