Linda T. Alepin Wins the 2013 Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award
Linda T. Alepin, the 2013 Eleanor Roosevelt Fund Award winner, will accept her award during the AAUW National Convention on Tuesday, June 11, in New Orleans. Alepin earned this honor for her work on women’s leadership and management. She took a few minutes to tell us about her inspiring career and give some advice for working women.
Tell us a bit about the Global Women’s Leadership Network.
My work with Global Women’s Leadership Network has taken me on a journey into the many issues of women’s rights that I never would have expected when the idea for the group first came to me.
As an American woman leader (focused around a 30-year career in business), I was aware of inequities regarding pay, promotion, et cetera. I was aware of the need for more women to study STEM [science, technology, engineering, and math] topics, of cases of sexual harassment, et cetera. In other words, my view was U.S.- and corporate-centric.
Adopting the word “global” into the title of our organization when we started in 2004 opened a veritable Pandora’s box of insights into the multifaceted issue of gender equity worldwide. Some of these issues are heart-wrenching — high mother mortality rates during childbirth, physical attacks against girls who want to go to school, female infanticide, and many others.
We now have 160 graduates of our Women Leaders for the World program in 40-plus developing countries. Their organizations are working not only on the aforementioned issues of gender equity but on many societal issues relating to health, economic development, and technology. We have a graduate who is a superior general in an order of nuns, an ambassador from Poland to Georgia, and several individuals who work for the World Food Program. It is a diverse group attacking diverse problems. Through our graduates, we are touching tens of thousands of people in communities around the world.
What advice do you have for young women?
The first piece of advice is to get as much education as possible. Education is a cornerstone for progress — individual and societal.
Secondly, pursue work that you are passionate about. This can vary at different times in your life. I went into information technology out of college because I thought that programming was like solving a crossword puzzle. I took my first management position because I believed in developing people and helping them contribute to a project. I have now entered the “legacy” phase of my life, and I am enjoying teaching and helping to lead a nonprofit that is making a difference.
Thirdly, live a complete and happy life. Earning an income is important. So is family, love, nature, and health. Don’t look for balance. Look for designing a life that has elements of everything that you care about and enjoy.
What does this award mean to you, and how will you carry on this mission?
I am deeply honored to receive this award. Eleanor Roosevelt was a great woman and leader. It is an honor to be receiving an award that was created in her memory.
I expect to continue working for women around the globe who have the potential to lead their families, their communities, their countries, and ultimately the world. Whether women and girls are at work in governments, academia, religions, corporations, or the nonprofit sector, they have the potential to make substantial contributions. It is every woman’s responsibility to be a continuous learner and a contributor. It is also her responsibility to take care of her health, to enjoy life, and to make the world a better place for the next generation.
We heard this will be your first time in New Orleans. What are you most looking forward to?
I have a broad range of interests. I want to see the Spanish oaks draped in moss, hear jazz at Preservation Hall, and taste some jambalaya. I am looking forward to meeting my fellow conference attendees and understanding their varied perspectives on the issue of gender equity.