#BalanceForBetter: Women Leaders in Seattle Talk Balance and Inclusion

By United Way of King County, on March 8, 2019 | In Emerging Leaders 365

Guest blogger Mackenzie Martin reflects on the #BalanceForBetter panel this week in honor of International Women’s Day. As a United Way Emerging Leader 365 donor and committee member, Mackenzie is committed to giving back and having an impact on the community every day of the year. She is a Sr. Enterprise Risk Management Analyst at Puget Sound Energy.

How does the concept of balance evolve throughout your career? What type of mentor do you need for each stage of your life? Can we accomplish inclusion without full intentionality?

These questions and more were pondered Wednesday evening by a panel of Seattle’s female change-makers in male-dominated industries: Ambika Singh, CEO/Founder of Armoire, Kimberly Harris, President and CEO of Puget Sound Energy, and Pallavi Mehta Wahi, Managing Partner at K&L Gates.

Emerging Leaders found shelter from the cold in The Riveter’s simultaneously expansive yet cozy Capitol Hill location.  Amidst warm lighting and inviting spaces, guests mingled, sipped and snacked while eagerly anticipating the night’s main event. The buzz was palpable.

Heather Lowenthal, United Way Campaign Chair and Producer/Director at Parallel Productions moderated. Panelists tackled what that elusive term ‘balance’ means to them, the changing landscape of women in leadership, the roadblocks they’ve faced, and provided priceless career advice and insights.

Amidst their responses and personal stories, themes quickly emerged.

  • Balance is personal and varied. Ambika divulged that at this stage in her career, being fully ”obsessed” with her new baby (her company) is what gives her balance.
  • Community, career and family is the trifecta. Each shared examples of how giving back has bolstered their career through networking opportunities while also providing a stronger connection to the communities they serve. Kimberly reflected on her commitment to the Red Cross (a natural community partner for PSE) and how that commitment to providing stability and security to communities in times of disaster evolved as she worked as a Campaign Chair at United Way into a passion for serving communities through their everyday struggles as well.
  • Preserving and enhancing opportunities for women is key. Pallavi talked about how inclusion can only occur when we’re being fully intentional. Creating pathways for diverse staff to be seen and heard is one type of intentionality that will help us move the dial forward.

There was camaraderie and there was healthy discussion, all mixed with endless wit, vulnerability and strength.  As we bundled up and wandered back out into the chilly Seattle darkness, we took with us the warmth of solidarity and shared experiences.

Celebrating International Women’s Day is just one of many opportunities to volunteer, network, meet local leaders and give back offered by the Emerging Leaders Program. Speaker Series are always free for Emerging Leader 365 members. Learn more about these philanthropists making an impact year-round.


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