Thank you: A few words on being named PACE Maker
Apr 22, 2019
Last week I had the immense honor of being named a Central Michigan Public Relations Society of America PACE Maker, our chapter's highest honor for significant contributions to the profession. Rather than try to rehash all the thank yous and what it means to me, I'll simply share what I said Thursday night as I (very nervously) stood in front of my peers at the 2019 PACE Awards:
The great thing about being in a room full of people who write speeches for a living, is that you know how this is supposed to go.
So, I hope you’ll also give me a little grace in not following the standard format of telling a captivating story and leaving you with a powerful message, and instead just allow me to say thank you in my own awkward way.
When I first got over the disbelief and awe in finding out I’d been named PACE Maker, the real terror set it.
For weeks now, I have been absolutely petrified about standing up here in front of my peers tonight:
- I figured there was about a 35 percent chance I’d fall down on my way up here.
- There’s still about a 40 percent chance I may vomit.
- There’s about an 80 percent chance I’ll say something inappropriate.
- There’s about a 96 percent chance I’m already breaking out in hives.
- And I knew there was about a 100 percent chance I’d say fuck at some point, so I figured let’s just get that one out of the way.
Perhaps the thing I was most afraid of was that at some point I would cry or show genuine emotion in public because this really does mean so very much to me. The odds are still out on that one.
Regardless of how uncomfortable it makes me to stand here, I knew that people deserved to be thanked.
Because while I may be a loner, I have never been alone in my career. So many of the people in this room tonight deserve my gratitude for helping me to become the person and professional I am today. So many of you are the reason I get to stand here tonight.
- First and foremost, thank you to the Piper & Gold family.
- Thank you to Veronica, for nominating me for this award even though you knew it would make me intensely uncomfortable. And thank you for being my colleague, my confidante, my collaborator and my friend. Thank you for sharing so much of your time and yourself with me and with P&G these past six years. I cherish you.
- Thank you to Cassie, Lisa and Hilary for sharing your passions, your personalities, your diligence and your unparalleled work ethics to make our company and our clients better. Thank you for challenging me and pushing me to be better. You are some of the smartest, hard-working women I have ever met, and I am proud to call you my colleagues.
- Thank you to our students, Lauren, Zoe, Hadley and Claire, for trusting us to help you learn and grow as you start your careers. Thank you for trusting us to help you navigate the politics and sexism and inequalities still rife within this industry and for joining us in the fight to make it better.
- Thank you to all of the P&G team, including our extended P&G family Robin and Shannon and our P&G alumni, for helping to create a place, as the team said in a note of encouragement for tonight, that’s “proof that you can be awkward and beautiful, strong and ridiculous, inspiring and unorthodox.” I am so grateful.
- Thank you to our clients – those here with us tonight and those scattered across the country. Thank you for trusting us with your brands, your reputations, your ideas, your whims and your friendships. Thank you for speaking with candor and navigating the murky waters of keeping years-long relationships fresh, and helping new relationships feel like we’ve been together for years. Thank you for being a part of our family and letting us be a part of yours, and thank you for letting us make a meaningful impact with and through you and the work you do.
- Thank you to my family, my husband and my dear best friends, for always being the place I can come home to when I shed the persona of business owner, leader, boss, activist, strategist, feminist and all-around-get-shit-done-gal. Thank you for listening to my vents and my silence. Thank you for hearing my fears and treating my vulnerabilities gently, building me up and reminding me how to step back into the strong impenetrable façade a woman in business often feels the pressure to adopt, without losing myself in the process.
- And thank you, Andrew in particular, for being a true partner in life. Thank you for being my person. Thank you for making me laugh, indulging my whims, ensuring I’m fed, making sure I go to bed at a decent time, and sharing our values, family and home. It is that stability that allows me to give so much of myself to this profession.
CMPRSA has meant so much to me over the course of my career.
Now, the PACE Maker award is supposed to represent a significant contribution to the profession, but this profession, and this organization in particular, has given so much to me.
It was almost 20 years ago when I attended my first CMPRSA event, a young professionals networking meet-up, at the time called Chasesetters.
Those Chasesetters relationships have turned into life-long friendships. Some now span state lines and international borders, while others are still so close it might mean bumping into each other randomly on a Tuesday and spending the next hour catching up in the UPS store… this week. From those cherished relationships, I’ve learned perspective, how to respect our differences and how to support without competition.
CMPRSA gave me the chance to represent our chapter for six years on the National Assembly – the Congress of PR people, if you will. I learned what happens when you put 400 PR people who love to hear themselves talk into a room with an open mic, and subsequently learned how to shut up when you’re not actually adding to the conversation. As a current member of the National Executive Committee for Counselor’s Academy, I have the chance to experience perspectives, problems and opportunities within our profession from around the country, and bring those lessons home to Michigan.
I’ve had the chance to do some incredible things with my CMPRSA colleges – from drag queen karaoke in Philadelphia to far too many vendor parties in San Francisco to waiting for bats under a bridge in Austin. I’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to adopt a persona if that’s what’s required to protect yourself, express yourself, make a point or get the job done. I’ve learned how to roll out of bed when you really don’t want to, drink a couple of cups of strong coffee and go learn no matter how hard your head is pounding. I’ve learned that there are some things you just can’t control, and that no matter how badly you want to see those damn bats in Austin, sometimes it’s okay to just call it and move on.
But perhaps the greatest CMPRSA honor I’ve had, until today that is, was to serve as your chapter president in 2008. I remember my first board meeting, sitting at the head of that table and looking out at these women and men I respected, admired and looked up to. I couldn’t believe that somehow, I got to be among them, their peer, though I really didn’t feel like their equal at the time.
CMPRSA gave me one of my first chances to lead. To learn from people who did what I did and then some. To hear the war stories of women who’d been in the trenches and faced far less privilege and protection than I had. To be invited to tables and conversations I didn’t feel I deserved to be at, and to show me that I did deserve to be there. To find my voice, and recognize it had just as much value as any man’s. That was my first board position in my career, and my first leadership one, and it had an unspeakable impact on me as a professional.
And I feel much the same right now as I did at that first board meeting – looking out at a room of women and men I respect, admire and look up to. Still disbelieving a bit that my name will now be among those who’ve mentored me, shared their time and experiences with me, given me advice solicited and un, and helped me to grow into the professional and person I am today.
Thank you, CMPRSA. Thank you to each and everyone of you here for the important, powerful work we do every day to make the world better. And thank you for the chance to do all of this together.
It is truly an honor and I am grateful.