The Coastal Bend Women Lawyers Association just completed our 2017 Spring Luncheon wherein we honored former Gold Medal Olympian, Mary Lou Retton, as our Woman of Distinction. We were very pleased with all the positive feedback we received after our luncheon. I think almost all would agree that Mary Lou Retton was inspiring. As is always the case, the weeks leading up to the event are nerve wrecking as the final details are being dealt with to ensure a successful luncheon. As is always the case, it usually takes a few weeks to decompress after our spring luncheon and reflect on how we can improve the next spring luncheon. For example, in the nervousness of directing the presentation of events, I completely forgot to introduce myself. My name is Deborah Rios and I am the President of CBWLA. Better late than never.
Prior to the luncheon I had the opportunity to sit in while our local newspaper reporter interviewed our speaker, Mary Lou Retton. The reporter asked Mary Lou something along the lines of, “can you explain what a former Olympian has to do with women lawyers or what message you can provide to a room full of attorneys.” I smiled because I remembered that this reporter had asked the same question last year of our previous woman of distinction. I realized at that point that CBWLA has never really done a good job at explaining what a woman of distinction is and why or how we select these speakers. While I think that at first glance the vast array of women that we have honored seem to lack a concise profile, on the other hand I think that's exactly the point.
Women of distinction are women who have broken barriers (Coach Welter, First female assistant coach in the National Football League). Women who made us cry with their compassion for others that few understand (Sister Helen Prejean). Women who have successfully led major companies (Collen Barret, President of SW Airlines). Women who broke barriers in politics (Janet Reno, First female US Attorney General). Women who have transformed the landscape in breast cancer research (Nancy Brinker, CEO of the Susan G. Komen Foundation). Women who are considered pioneers in Texas politics (Sissy Farenthold). And we have even had women attorneys (Gloria Allred, Civil Rights/Womens Rights advocate attorney). Women of distinction manage motherhood with work. Women of distinction know that they risk criticism for some of their opinions but they speak up regardless. Women of distinction seek to help others in their community. Women of distinction uplift other women. Women of distinction mentor other women. Women of distinction never stop trying to improve. Women of distinction don’t let other people put limits on them.
Women of distinction are you...and me. We are each capable of being a woman of distinction. Women of distinction may have absolutely nothing to do with the law per se. But they have everything to do with what can help us excel in any profession or occupation. I urge each of you to discover the woman of distinction that dwells inside you.