As I young girl, little did I know that my mother’s persistent declaration would have such a profound effect on me: “I was born in 1920—the year that women got the vote!” My mother’s life in the 50’s and 60’s reflected the syndrome identified in the book The Feminine Mystique, which I read in my high school years, and again recently. I cried realizing how my mother’s life echoed the book’s pages. Her creativity was stifled trying to fit into the culturally encouraged role of happy housewife.
Fortunately, my destiny has had fewer limitations. In addition to being a mother and former wife, I have enjoyed an eclectic career from department store executive to shop owner to business entrepreneur to community advocate.
Recently, to my surprise, my mother’s words resurfaced while preparing an historical speech for my Toastmasters group. While researching, I stumbled onto Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s speech given at the Seneca Falls Women’s Rights Convention in 1848. Something about it truly called to me. Her passion, her intellect, her courage was exciting and inspirational. After I gave the speech, someone commented, “Rebecca, all you need is a costume!” So I had a costume made, and immediately found my passion as a Reenactor. The rest, as they say, is history!
That also started me down the path of reading everything I could by and about Stanton. I saw her life lessons, and all that she did to continue a 50-year journey working for women’s equality. That led me to other brilliant women of the 19th century, Susan B. Anthony, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, Lucy Stone, Lucretia Mott, and oh, so many more. These women pioneered in women’s rights, with no role models. They mentored each other without the word ‘mentor’ in the vocabulary. They developed their intellects in an age where women were denied an education, and found their courage and self-expression in a time when women were to remain silent.
My mission is to inspire women to make a greater impact on the world. I have learned to respect the suffragettes, who have created lessons that are so meaningful that they also apply today! So, it is out of profound admiration for these 19th and 20th century models that I do my life’s work — helping today’s women find their voice. And, oh yes, I do it for you too, Mom!
Currently, I am Executive Director for a local Chamber of Commerce and founder of the event company, FemFestNow. I credit Toastmasters for launching my speaking career — I have won speaking awards at the area and division levels! I also enjoy serving in a leadership role as Area Director. Since attending the University of Missouri, Columbia, I have been employed in a variety of positions from corporate retail to entrepreneurial sales to community relations. I am also an active member of the League of Women Voters and Gateway to Dreams. Having traveled to Asia, Europe, the USA, and lived in California for 27 years, I am happy to call St. Louis my home.