President's Message

Pamela Harms President, Organization of Women Leaders

What an inspirational speaker we had for our OWL May luncheon!  Sunshine Topping, former Vice President for Human Resources and Cultural Officer, Hawaiian Telecom, truly fits into this year’s OWL theme of Leading by Example.  Sunshine’s stellar career coupled with her willingness to make life’s difficult choices, makes her a leader to admire.

The month of July is, of course, when American’s celebrate Independence Day.  Upon signing the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July 1776, the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen American colonies were no longer subject, or subordinate, to the British monarch and were now united, free, and independent states. 

In July 1848, 82 years after the Declaration of Independence was signed, some 240 men and women gathered in upstate New York for a meeting convened to discuss the social, civil, and religious condition and rights of women.  One hundred of the delegates–68 women and 32 men–signed a Declaration of Sentiments, modeled on the Declaration of Independence, declaring that women, like men, were citizens with an “inalienable right to the elective franchise.” The Seneca Falls Convention marked the beginning of the campaign for woman suffrage.

It took another 72 years before the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed in 1920.  It states, “That the right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”  In those 72 years and facing strong opposition, it was women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone, who never gave up the fight for women’s right to vote.  This included opposition to women’s involvement in public affairs and against the idea of women speaking to audiences of both men and women.  Activities that we as women take for granted today, but were fought for by the brave women who truly did lead other women, and men, by their example.