Meet Fierce Woman, Christy Uffelman

08/09/2016 11:37 am ET Updated Aug 09, 2016
With Christy Uffelman and her FierceWomen portrait.
J.G. Boccella
With Christy Uffelman and her FierceWomen portrait.

Christy Uffelman didn’t know me from a can of paint when I asked her if I could include her in FierceWomenProject. But she instantly “got” the project and she was unbelievably gracious and generous.

Christy was the first person to say to me: “JG, this is so much bigger than a portrait series ― this is a movement.”  She encouraged me to “go big” with the whole concept and try to impact as many people as possible.

Christy is a sought after national keynote, NPR resource, and TEDTalk speaker in the field of Millennial/Gen Y development, women’s leadership, and integrated talent management.  Here is her company: alignleadership.com
  
Below are three of Christy’s responses to the 10 FierceWomenQuestions. Enjoy!

FierceWomen Portrait of Christy Uffelman
J.G. Boccella
FierceWomen Portrait of Christy Uffelman

What is your definition of a Fierce Woman?

She is a woman who is intentional about her choices – both in her personal and professional life.  She is a woman who, in the words of my mentor MJ Tocci, not only opens the door for the women that surround her, but then props it open for 10,000 more behind her.

What are the best ways men can demonstrate to young women and girls that we believe in an unlimited future for them, and that we believe in, and value women’s leadership?

Advocate for us!  Acknowledging that our career paths are different than yours as a man doesn’t make us right and you wrong.  It is not a zero-sum game.  It’s just noticing (and accepting) that difference, then doing something about it.

Some of the biggest blessings in my life have been when male leaders have opened doors for me, graciously introduced me to their networks and relationships, and most importantly, linked their names – and credibility – to mine.

Gentlemen, do not underestimate the power you have to be a sponsor in the big ways like I just mentioned, but also in the small ways too, like:

     - Ensuring that the lone woman in the meeting has a voice and say in the discussion.  Ask her for her opinion even if she doesn’t jump into the fray and offer it.

     - Challenge and push your female direct reports to apply for stretch assignments and promotions when YOU believe they are ready – don’t wait for them to think they are ready

- When you offer a job to a female candidate – and even if she doesn’t negotiate for a higher salary than your first offer – ensure that it is the same rate you would offer a man.

Who was a Fierce Woman (historical, literary, pop-culture, or personal) that really made an impact on you?

An Executive Director of a Foundation in Pittsburgh PA.

About 10 years ago she invited me to a coffee date out of the blue.  She wanted to hear about the cohorts of young women I was facilitating in my spare time around the Pittsburgh region and I was thrilled to make her acquaintance.  At the time, I was hopeful that we could someday get a grant to help us with our work, so I went into the conversation from that perspective.

She had other plans.

She listened quietly as I shared my passion around women facing challenges that we think are individual to us, but are really a part of a collective experience for mid-career women, and how my personal purpose in life was to build vehicles where women can share best practices together.

Then she gently asked me,, “So, in the cohort you have right now, how many members are women of color?”

And I blinked. “Well, none.”

No one had ever asked me that before.

She opened my eyes and heart that day in a way no one had ever done before.  I had always had mostly white friends.  My whole high school was practically white, and my circles of friends – and cohorts – mirrored that experience into my twenties. My friends (who looked like me) introduced me to more friends (who looked like me).

She taught me that a real leader, and a whole woman, is intentional about her circles. And that if you look around your table and don’t see diversity – of thought, of race, of ethnicity, of age… that you can change that.

Is it uncomfortable? Yes.

Is it worth it?  Absolutely.

A decade of intentional choices later, I now have amazingly beautiful people, like our Fierce Women founder, JG, in my life now because I made the conscious choice to not accept the status quo in my circles, my life or my work.  And I am dedicated every day to help others (including my 12 year old daughter) do the same.

I will forever be grateful to her for inviting me to coffee that day and sharing that unsolicited constructive feedback with me, a complete stranger.  I know now that she did it because doing so was HER personal purpose.

And like a candle igniting another, she modeled the way for me to truly live my personal purpose.

 

SHARE YOUR STORY

You never know what part of your story could inspire a young person and expand her sense of what is possible for her future. FierceWomenProject is for AnyWoman and EveryWoman :-)


What’s YOUR definition of a Fierce Woman?  Tweet your reply with the hashtag #FierceWomenProject

And if you’re really feeling inspired, grab a friend, get your smart phones out, and record your responses to a couple of the FierceWomenQuestions, below.  Then share your video on FB, Twitter etc. with #FierceWomenProject.  Easy.  Powerful.


FierceWomenProject.com

facebook.com/FierceWomenProject

@FierceWomenProj

 

The FierceWomen Questions:

 

What is your definition of a Fierce Woman?

 

What do you love most about your work and life?

 

How did you get here?

 

What advice do you have for young women and girls who are exploring possibilities for their future?

 

What was one of your biggest professional challenges?  How did you meet that challenge?

 

How did you overcome doubts and fears that you may have had early on in your career/life journey?

 

What have mentors (formal or informal) meant to you?

 

What are the best ways men can demonstrate to young women and girls that we believe in an unlimited future for them, and that we believe in, and value women’s leadership?

 

Who was a Fierce Woman (historical, literary, pop-culture, or personal) that really made an impact on you?

 

What is your vision for the next generation of empowered girls, women’s leadership, and men supporting women’s leadership

 

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