As we approach the end of 2016, I will be reflecting on the successes I have accomplished this year. I must recognize that did not achieve this by myself but there were women of all races early in my career who had confidence in me. They told me I was good, that I had leadership potential even when I did not believe in myself. They mentored me, stretched me, and coached me long before I understood what it was all about.
My first female director, Brenda Stephenson, Deputy Divisional, Education Social Worker, gave me my first job reference and I began my career as an Education Social Worker with the former Inner London Education Authority. She engineered my first official interview at the ILEA headquarters the County Hall, in this huge historic building back in 1979. Nervous as I was to enter this building, where blacks were only secretaries and janitors, I got the job. I was so proud. My earnings were more that my parent’s annual income.
My first black female manager Ruby Taylor was ambitious and confident. She was also bold, and a visionary leader who inspired me greatly. Her team members were always successful, they shone. she demanded the best from all of us in her team - a diverse group of race, gender and religion. I learnt so much from her example.
Throughout my early career, I was privileged to have some remarkable, and exceptional women who were driven and they did not hesitate to propel me in the direction of leadership. I recalled Sue Carrie, Assistant Chief Officer of Probation, North East London Probation Service, wrote in my "First Year Officer's" Report in 1992, that I had “leadership potential.” Then I was a trainee Probation Officer. In subsequent years, Mary McVey, Mary Archer, Senior Probation Officers, and others would encourage me to apply for senior positions. “Put your had in the ring, Ann” they would say. These women were tenacious leaders in a male dominated environment. I can only imagine the challenges of racism and sexism, they faced but they were relentless. They never gave up, they aspired for higher heights, thereby clearing the way for the younger charges like myself to move into their places. I now know that in retrospect, and I hold them in high esteem. They were our role models and we looked up to them. Among them were women of colour, namely Yvonne D'Agular, Donna Charles Vincent, Laura Fairweather and others, they were our heroines. They were senior managers, who did not hesitate to share their knowledge with us aspiring leaders. They confronted racism every step of the way and blazed a trail for those behind them.
It has been a long time since I have seen or heard from some of these women, but they have certainly left an indelible impression on me. This is why I am not afraid to share my knowledge with other women, younger women because I was given much more than I can ever hope to repay.
This blog post covers 95,94,93&92,