The three women honored by Culver Girls Academy students at the 2017 Culver Women’s Celebration recognition ceremony came from different backgrounds but they sounded similar themes. Phrases like “making our own place at the table,” “own your accomplishments” and “know who you are” peppered their brief talks.
Honored were Cecelia Bolden, the mother of Avery Bolden ’19; Breely Ungar ’10, the older sister of Brennah Ungar ’18; and Jennifer Lazlo Mizrahi, a family friend of Linnea Karahalios ’17 and Daphne Karahalios ‘20. They were nominated by the girls and selected by the CWC committee.
Bolden, who is the chief delivery officer at SDI Presence, told the girls that only two things in life are certain. “You are born and you die,” she said. “It is up to you what you do in between.” Growing up Bermuda, Bolden said everyone was equal. It wasn’t until she arrived in the United States, she was made to feel different. But instead of knocking her back, being marginalized lit Bolden’s inner drive. She decided to “never settle.”
She said women must unite and “lift up one another.” And they must be ready to take advantage of the opportunities and possibilities that appear and “make our own place at the table.”
Along with being a recognized leader in the systems integration arena, Bolden is very active in the Chicago nonprofit community. Her philosophy, she explained, has always been “do more.”
Ungar, an associate consultant at the communications and public affairs firm APCO Worldwide, offered the girls a hashtag to describe her attitude: #girlboss. That stands for girls that take charge of their lives. “They bring it, they own it,” she said. You don’t lose your fire or your passion, she said, because “good things come to those who hustle.”
She added that in the office, girls must “own your accomplishments,” but they must also own their mistakes because you learn valuable lessons from your failures, too. Support each other and share your knowledge. “Beautiful minds inspire others,” she added.
Based in Washington, D.C., Ungar said she spent one summer as a congressional intern. However, she realized the unpaid internship was out of reach of many college students because their families could not pay their living expenses during that time. That is why Ungar helped start “College to Congress,” a scholarship program that will pay those expenses for a congressional intern each summer. The nonprofit will offer its first scholarship this year, she said.
Known as Aunt Jenny by the Karahalios family, Mizrahi said girls must “know who are and know your weakness.” Mizrahi explained she is dyslexic and it can still be difficult at times. But she learned to “aim high and don’t be shy.” Nobody is better than you, she added, and everyone will have good days and bad days.
Mizrahi is the president of RespectAbility, a nonprofit organization working to empower people with disabilities. She said when you consider which career is right for you, view it as a steam engine. “It won’t move if the water doesn’t boil,” she said. “If your passion isn’t boiling, you should look for something different.“
And when it comes to leadership, remember that it is not about doing things right, but doing the right things. Because leadership is like a candle, she said. When you use one candle to light another, the world becomes brighter.