Lt. Gov. shares words of encouragement

by Kelly Deichert
Air University Public Affairs

3/25/2011 - MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. -- Eleanor Roosevelt's words -- "You must do the thing you think you cannot do"-- are still inspiring women today.

"I'm one of those people who took Eleanor Roosevelt's words to heart," Alabama Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey said Monday at the Women's History Month luncheon at the Maxwell officers' club. The month's theme is "Our History is Our Strength."

When she saw the problems Alabama faced, Lieutenant Governor Ivey said she sought the office of lieutenant governor and became the first woman and second Republican to hold the post in the state.

"I knew change was needed, but who was I, lil' ol' me?" she asked.

"I'm the lieutenant governor for all the people of Alabama, even the men," she joked.

Lieutenant Governor Ivey noted that even though she was raised in a culture dominated by men, she was determined to have a career.

She said she grew up so far back in the woods, "We thought our ZIP code was E-I-E-I-O," but she didn't let her humble beginnings limit her future.

Lieutenant Governor Ivey graduated from Auburn University and worked as a high school teacher and bank officer. She was assistant director of the Alabama Development Office and was elected the first Republican state treasurer since the Reconstruction.

She said she is proud to continue the tradition set by strong women of the past. "These individuals are treasures."

She discussed the contributions of many prominent women who have inspired her.

Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, had an assertive wit and quick tongue, Lieutenant Governor Ivey said.

Col. Gwen Bingham is the first woman to be the quartermaster general of the United States Army and commandant of the U.S. Army Quartermaster School at Fort Lee, Va. She has a local connection, too, as a graduate of the University of Alabama.

Vice Admiral Regina Benjamin, Lieutenant Governor Ivey's friend, is the 18th U.S. Surgeon General and was born in Mobile.

Lieutenant Governor Ivey encouraged the women in the audience to contact their representatives, including representatives Martha Roby (District 2) and Terri Sewell (District 7).

"Engage them, even if you didn't vote for them," she said. "They were elected to serve all the people."

One thing these women have in common is their ability to LEAD: listen and educate through attitude and dedication, the lieutenant governor said.

"Listen to people, learn from people, absorb what they say," she said. "Once you've learned, share that information with others."

She said that women should want to work with and hire competent people. "Let them go to work and get the job done; they'll surpass expectations," she said.

Creating an environment with a strong energy and sense of excitement will inspire co workers.

"The only way to be effective is to set the example for yourself," Lieutenant Governor Ivey said.

Dr. Patricia Maggard, professor at the Squadron Officer College, who gave the introduction, discussed the purpose of Women's History Month and read a proclamation from President Barack Obama.

She and Col. Brian Killough, the 42nd Air Base Wing commander, thanked Lieutenant Governor Ivey for being the guest speaker.

"She has dedicated her life to improving the lives of others," Dr. Maggard said.

Since 1987, the month of March has been dedicated to ensuring the history and contributions of women are recognized around the country.