Updated: Jun 19, 2020
The context of this trip was ironic and sentimental. I need to provide a short backstory before we get to the pics and Washington experience below. You see, my pathway to politics was a "chance" invite from my sisters in NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners.
I had been a member of NAWBO for just a short time, but I had a good friend on the board, Becky Bayne. As a sidenote, I had separately began sensing a serious call to public service in my heart when I got a call one day, out of the blue, from Becky.
She explained that they had an open seat on the board for the political advocate and she had nominated me for the seat. She said that the board agreed that I would be a good fit and she asked me if I'd like to take it. Since I had been feeling a noticeable pull towards public service, I said yes without hesitation, not knowing just what I was signing up for but knowing that it was my next breadcrumb.
NAWBO was started in 1975 by a small group of women who were passionate about giving women in business more opportunity. They were the originators of HR 5050, a bill which Ronald Reagan signed into law in 1988, giving women the right to finally open their own business and take out a loan without a man having to co-sign for them. This year, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of this Women Business Ownership Act.
You'll notice Mayor David Briley in the above photo...he came to our Lady Like Leaders symposium that my partner and I hosted, where we took a moment to celebrate NAWBO's 30th anniversary of the Women Business Ownership Act.
In his heartfelt, opening remarks, he shared with the room how he was raised by a single mom and the difficulties she endured. He encouraged the women us and shared how he was working on legislation to help level the playing field for women business owners in Nashville.
Speaking of that legislation, the Mayor's office invited me to serve on his Minorty Business Advisory Council, to represent NAWBO at that table. We were able to pass that legislation at the first of this year, making it easier for women-owned businesses and minority-owned businesses to procure government contracts. I'll continue to serve on his council to help provide oversight of this legislation.
Though he is a Democrat and I am a Republican, and we don't see eye-to-eye on everything, we certainly share a passion for moving women-owned businesses forward. Serving on this council provided extraordinary insight into the inner workings of Nashville and it gave me a sincere appreciation for all that Mayor Briley has on his plate on any given day.
And now, you can understand better how experiencing the legislative process so intimately in Washington seemed rather appropriate to do with my NAWBO sisters. What a spectacular trip it was! We were given special access in the city, we were treated like royalty, and chauffeured around the city in a caravan of black suburbans.
My first day of arrival, NAWBO offered a political leadership training day for those of us running for office. We enjoyed learning from some tremendous speakers, one of which was Lea Marquez Peterson. Lea ran for US Congress and shared her journey with us. She and I became friends during the trip and it was so interesting to hear all about her experience.
Throughout the week, we heard the intimate stories of so many wonderful female legislatures and women in government leadership, it was extraordinary! But I have to give special credit to Joy Lutes, our NAWBO Advocate Director on Capitol Hill. She worked tirelessly to plan, coordinate, and execute this week and she did an exemplary job of it!
Joy and her team are on the Hill every day making an impact for our NAWBO chapters and for women in business across our nation. I'm grateful that she is also a fantastic, non-partisan mentor for me as I enter the political realm.
Joy arranged for us to be addressed by a plethora of officials, elected and appointed, to give us the updates on ways they are working to improve the business landscape for women. It was enlightening and surreal. I loved every minute of being there and getting to see our agenda in action.
A trip of a lifetime that I will never forget! I'll have to admit that being in D.C. with this type of backstage access seemed to be a prelude for a bigger chapter in my life to come. We'll just have to see what God has in store. For now, on to the Tennessee General Assembly!