On Wednesday, May 4 the Capital Area United Way Women’s Leadership Council hosted its 15th annual “Lighting the Path” Luncheon at the Country Club of Lansing.
The luncheon exists to celebrate women in the area who have contributed to making a difference in the community as a working professional, as well as a mentor and example for other young women. At Wednesday’s event, three women were honored with an award and gifts to acknowledge their many accomplishments.
Teresa Kmetz, President and CEO of the Capital Area United Way, opened the event and welcomed the near 150 attendees. Sheri Jones, WLNS TV6 news anchor, emceed the event and introduced all three of the honorees including Mary Clark, Yvonne Caamal Canul and Sarah Anthony.
This year, the luncheon presented the first annual Paula D. Cunningham Lighting the Path award to Mary Clark. The award was introduced and presented by Paula D. Cunningham herself. Cunningham has held many prestigious titles in the Lansing community in her professional life, including professor, President of Lansing Community College and President and CEO of Capitol National Bank. She is also the first African American woman to be chair of Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce. In all of her endeavors, she has used her position of influence to help create opportunities for others, particularly young women and people of color.
After the award presentation, the two featured speakers Sarah Anthony and Yvonne Caamal Canul gave speeches about where they’ve been, what they’re doing and what they want to do in the future.
Speaking first was Sarah Anthony, the youngest and first African American female Ingham County Commissioner ever. Part of her inspiring speech reflected on a letter she wrote to her 10 year-old self, remembering one her major struggles of childhood: dealing with a speech impediment. Anthony’s most emphasized point was that a woman’s voice is her most powerful asset.
“Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world,” was Anthony’s most inspiring message, quoting Harriet Tubman.
Yvonne Caamal Canul’s speech was the endcap of the event. The Superintendent of the Lansing School District spoke about her childhood and upbringing and how she and her family moved all over the world during her adolescence, giving her a diverse world view. Her “lessons learned” were both comical and emotional and focused on family, friends, hard work and taking action.
As Caamal Canul quoted the famous Japanese Proverb “Vision without implementation is hallucination,” her table of coworkers and employees chimed in knowing every word, proving that the well-rehearsed proverb is more than a saying to Caamal Canul; it’s a motto to live by.