I’ve spent most of my life believing anything was possible with hard work, good intentions and a little bit of luck. Strong women and supportive men surrounded me in my youth, so why would I believe otherwise. Their encouragement was the backdrop to my life. There were times when obstacles made it tougher to achieve important goals set for myself, but I look back on those trying times and truly believe that without them I would not have learned all of the needed lessons. The areas that have impacted me have turned into a code that I like to live by. My top three areas include mentoring and being a role model; doing things for the right reasons and taking a few risks along the way; and treating people with honesty, fairness, respect and love. It may seem ambitious, but I can honestly say that I’m always working hard to live up to my own standard. As the first person in my family to get a bachelor’s degree, I took the mentoring and role modeling very seriously. I understood how important it was to show others the way. I felt a responsibility, but most of all I enjoy encouraging others to follow their dreams — even if it seems too difficult. Of course, moving forward is important to me. I’ve been told that sometimes it’s hard to understand my course. All I can say is that I make decisions with the best of intentions for all involved and I’m just not afraid to try something new. Without risk, there’s no reward. I firmly believe that. Whatever you’re doing in this world doesn’t mean a thing if you don’t consider the people involved. The relationships you’re building are what make everything worthwhile, right? I bet if you ask MaryLee Davis, this month’s cover gal, about her vision for changing the world, it has everything to do with how people are impacted. That’s what makes her an amazing Athena recipient. She has been working to connect with the community as long as she can recall and made a difference in the lives of women along the way. She’s a powerful example of how one person can do great things by following a personal mission — loving people to the best of her ability. MaryLee was the first Athena recipient and many have come after her. I was particularly touched that she was hurt in a tragic car accident and unable to attend her award ceremony. I’m thrilled that we can cast her in the spotlight all these years later. We also featured a couple other inspiring awardees in our local women section this month and I hope you enjoy learning about them. I am proud to be counted among these women who individually and collectively work to change the world for the better. At this time of year, it’s appropriate to recognize the other women who are changing the world — moms. It’s Mother’s Day and even though we should never wait until this one day to show our appreciation for them, it’s important that we acknowledge their combined role in making the world go forward. Can you imagine what the world would be like without moms taking care of everyone? Yipes! My mom wasn’t the stereotypical mom who baked cookies or took me shopping because it was fun, but what she did that meant more to me than anything was give me a strong spirit, a formidable work ethic and a drive to do whatever I want in this life. Who needs chocolate chip cookies when you have all that? I want to send a Happy Mother’s Day to my mom and all moms out there. Now that spring has officially arrived and we’re getting back outside. I want to encourage you to head downtown and drive by the Sparrow Hospital’s St. Lawrence campus and see the amazing mural that was recently installed. I’m so proud that CAWLM was involved in this project and am awed by the work of so many talented students who gave of their time to make our community a brighter place. There are many panels left to do and if you are interested in supporting our youth and helping to move this project forward, I encourage you to reach out to us (email Emily at firstname.lastname@example.org) and offer your assistance. You’ll see photos of the mural ribbon cutting on page 38 in our My Community section. I hope you take some time this month to give back and help where you can and certainly don’t forget to give the moms out there a big hug for the tireless support they give us.
Tiffany Dowling is the Founder and President of M3 Group, a full-service branding agency located in downtown Lansing, Mich. She is also owner and publisher of Capital Area Women’s LifeStyle Magazine and the Greater Lansing Business Monthly. Dowling has helped businesses and organizations with branding needs for more than a decade. Learn more at www.m3group.biz.