Celebrating Women

We are storytellers, highlighting local female leaders who have been tirelessly committed to the cause of advancing women, the next generation of emerging female leaders who are inspired to make a difference, and those women who have weathered their own life transitions while moving forward on their leadership path.

Emma Jones, Cultivating Aspiring Leaders for Higher Ed

Emma Jones serves as the Executive Vice President and a part-owner of Credo, a national higher education consulting firm headquartered in Whitsett, North Carolina. From this platform, Emma channels her passion for building the leadership potential of women at all levels: providing mentorship to women in business locally, within her firm, and innovating opportunities on a national scale for higher education leaders to find support and connect.  

Originally from Raleigh, NC, Emma earned her Bachelor’s in Literature and Mass Communication from the University of North Carolina –Asheville in 2001. She later went on to complete a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at UNCG in 2008. After spending 7 years with the London-based Foundation for International Education (FIE), a non-profit international education provider that develops and delivers study abroad programs for U.S.-based universities, Emma began her labor of love with Credo in 2013.

One of Emma’s first initiatives was to set up an after-hours “Lean In” professional group to mentor women on the art of balancing work and home life. Helping women navigate the challenges of workplace gender bias while also sharing the knowledge that career versus family does not have to be a binary choice became a wellspring for Emma’s advocacy and purpose in nurturing a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment in higher education. Through her influence and leadership, Credo made improvements to support and benefits for its employees, including more comprehensive family leave, salary equitability, and expanded hiring practices to support an ethos of diversity and diverse team experience. Emma currently spearheads the “Inclusive Credo Working Group,” a grassroots working group of team members passionate about transforming the organizational culture.

In a push to give the next generation of education leaders the tools they need to assess their gifts and talents against today’s independent higher education environment, Emma led the design and execution of Credo’s  “Aspiring Leaders” program serving 15+ state higher education associations. She was also instrumental in launching the  “Credo Women in Leadership” series, now in its eighth year. With the percentage of women college presidents being staggeringly low, she helped facilitate an annual gathering of these presidents that focuses on presidential leadership, learning, research, relationship-building, and self-care.

Not one to forget her roots despite being featured in publications such as The Business Journals, Emma continues to reach back by providing valuable peer-to-peer mentorship to fellow women business owners. “It can be a lonely road leading a company and without Emma in my life I am not sure I would have had the courage to keep going,” reflects one such peer, who noted that  Emma’s mentorship extended to her team members as well. “She is the embodiment of a leader. Someone who is uniquely and authentically herself. A strong and compassionate champion for others.”

Women Supporting Women

It seems that now more than ever, women are competing to make it to the top. When leadership positions are coveted and seeing women in those positions is rare, it’s easy to focus on pitting yourself against other people, similar to you, in order to advance. I would argue that it is important to remember not only to work hard to advance yourself, but also to think about the ways your work can help others. When we work to uplift women, we are actually improving the workplace for everyone and helping to shift the standards. This aspect of leadership–elevating, improving, and motivating–is the key to breaking the status quo.

Recently, I read a study called “The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion,” that attempted to measure the confidence levels of women and men. The study had each participant take an exam and then describe how well they felt they had performed; afterwards their actual score was determined. The researchers discovered that on average, women believe they are about 4% less capable than they actually are. This is significant especially when compared to the fact that men in this study were about 11% overconfident. Notably, women and men averaged the same actual scores on the exam. Some have then taken this observed phenomena and simply told women to “lean in, promote yourself, and be more confident.” This is a warranted suggestion, but interestingly enough, this study revealed that women who self-promote are not significantly more likely to be promoted than those who don’t. A more productive suggestion may be to purposefully take action to create a community that uplifts and encourages other women, rather than encouraging women to promote themselves.

In addition, women do not need to change in order to be more suited to leadership positions. It is the societal stereotypes themselves that need to evolve. A deeper exploration of the previously mentioned studies further reveals that companies with more overconfident personalities have an increased likelihood of failure, and those that have more women in their ranks experience greater success. This further reinforces the idea that women, just as they are, are ready to lead and succeed.

Instead of insisting that women develop an overconfident, self-promoting personality type, we should encourage them to be more confident in their female peers and to strive for standards that celebrate both personal success and the success of others. Overconfidence is not the same as competence, and in the case of important decision making, diversity of thought frequently leads to better outcomes. One suggestion moving forward: help other women rise up, increase visibility of female leadership, and strive to create a powerful and supportive community that benefits everyone.


Exley, Christine, and Judd Kessler. “The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion.” National Bureau of Economic Research, Oct. 2019, https://doi.org/10.3386/w26345

Cahn, Naomi. “Do Women And Men Have A Confidence Gap?” Forbes, 26 Feb. 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/naomicahn/2020/02/26/do-women-and-men-have-a-confidence-gap/?sh=d6a0ca17bd23 Accessed 6 July 2022.

Casserly, Meghan. “The Conversation: Male vs. Female Bosses.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 19 June 2013, https://www.forbes.com/2010/04/23/management-issues-workplace-forbes-woman-views-worst-bosses.html?sh=6b5973396687

Agendavt. “This Is What People Really Think about Having a Female Boss.” Medium, Medium, 8 May 2017, https://medium.com/@agendavermont/this-is-what-people-really-think-about-having-a-female-boss-88548e9c9b87#:~:text=That%20survey%20found%20female%20managers,have%20children%20in%20their%20household.&text=It%20also%20found%20that%3A,work%20for%20a%20male%20manager

Burns, Janet. “The Results Are in: Women Are Great for Business, but Still Getting Pushed Out.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 22 Sept. 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/janetwburns/2017/09/22/2016-proved-women-are-great-for-business-yet-still-being-pushed-out/?sh=186e9ded188b

Author: Celeste Kidd-O’Brien

Top Gun Leadership: Maverick

Warning—spoilers ahead—if you haven’t seen Top Gun: Maverick. But if you’re interested in some leadership tips, read on! I recently watched the long-awaited Top Gun sequel and in addition to cinematography and stunts that will simply take your breath away, the movie’s engaging plot makes for major development of the main character Pete “Maverick” Mitchell’s leadership skills. In the first movie, Maverick is a young, reckless pilot, who despite his impressive aviation skills, isn’t trusted by the other pilots to make good decisions while they’re in the air. Effective leadership requires trust that goes both ways; a team must trust their leader to guide them in the right direction, fight for them, and make good decisions, and a leader must be able to rely on his/her team. Maverick eventually does prove at the end of the original Top Gun that he can be a good wingman. However, it is revealed early in Top Gun: Maverick that even though his age and experience should have allowed him to become a highly ranked officer, he has not advanced past the position of Captain. By clinging to his independence, he has prevented his own career advancement.

In spite of this, the second movie emphasizes the point that there is always a possibility for growth, especially in leadership. Maverick shows at the beginning of the movie that he is capable of being responsible for others, when he risks his career to keep his test pilot program alive and ensure his coworkers’ jobs. He demonstrates his potential for leadership by protecting his team. However, the real test begins when he takes on the huge challenge of training a group of young top gun pilots to prepare for a top-secret bombing mission. After initially rejecting the job, stating that he is not a teacher and doesn’t want to take the risk of responsibility, he realizes that this mission will occur with or without him, and chooses to focus on positively impacting the chances of the young pilots’ survival and the success of the mission. Maverick demonstrates that believing in yourself, taking responsibility, and having a clear vision for the impact you want to make, are important qualities for an aspiring leader.

The speed and accuracy with which these top gun pilots must learn to fly has never before been done and Maverick must balance instilling confidence in his team, with preparing them for the dangers they will face. The exercises he designs challenge the pilots’ limits, as well as their teamwork skills, bravery, and instinct. Seemingly unimpressed with his training efforts, the Navy decides to take over the program and allow more time for the mission to be accomplished, thus putting the pilots in greater danger. Frustrated that the Navy is not prioritizing both the safety of the pilots and the mission’s success, Maverick flies a plane through the entire mission sequence by himself, proving not only that the faster timing is possible and necessary, but that he is the person to lead the team. Maverick exhibits once again that to be a good leader, one must advocate for one’s team; in doing so he increases both the Navy’s and his pilots’ faith in him.

In the end, Maverick flies the actual mission with his pilots, risking his life alongside them in order to be the most effective leader he can be. While this leadership approach is not always feasible, it was important to this mission that he was able to assess the situation and provide support in real time. With Maverick’s leadership, the entire team returned home safely, having successfully completed the mission. Maverick’s growth into a resourceful and effective leader over the course of the Top Gun movies is one of the things that makes them so compelling. From an arrogant, risk-taking hotshot to a strong, smart, and trustworthy leader, Maverick’s character inspires us to continue to learn, trust, and grow into the leaders we want to be.


Top Gun: Maverick. Directed by Joseph Kosinski, performances by Tom Cruise, Jennifer Connelly, and Miles Teller, Paramount Pictures Studios, 2022.

Top Gun. Directed by Tony Scott, performances by Tom Cruise, Tim Robbins, and Kelly McGillis, Paramount Pictures Studios, 1986.

Author: Celeste Kidd-O’Brien

What’s your style? Read till the end to find out!

One of the most important steps in learning to lead is discovering your leadership style–when, where, and how you lead best– and reflecting on your strengths and weaknesses to become more effective. Recognizing the pros and cons of your leadership style can help you better engage your team and achieve your goals. Whether you’re a servant leader, a transformational leader, or one of the many other classifications, everyone has their natural advantages and challenges. Here are a couple of examples of some strong female leaders, and how their different leadership styles have allowed them to impact the world.

Princess Diana of Wales, was a classic example of a servant leader. Humble and kind, while dedicated to making a difference, the “people’s princess” focused her efforts on uplifting those who had been outcast by society. Servant leadership is defined by listening to and serving others, to build trust and earn authority. Princess Diana exhibited this style in all aspects of her life, balancing the demands of the monarchy with being actively involved in her sons’ lives. Although philanthropy is an obligation of the British royal family, Princess Diana went above and beyond her duties to support people in need, becoming the patroness of a variety of charities and organizations that supported those with serious illnesses, most notably AIDS and leprosy. She served people directly through visiting hospitals and homeless shelters, holding hands with those who were stigmatized, and promoting causes that the monarchy otherwise didn’t support. Through being personally involved in these causes, Princess Diana embodied the spirit of servant leadership to reduce stigmas, break tradition, and inspire others.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama is a more recent example of a transformational leader. Strong and inspiring, she builds support for causes that have made a big impact in society by being a role model for followers and helping them identify personally with the cause. During her time as FLOTUS, she rallied Americans throughout the country to support causes like Let’s Move, to reduce childhood obesity rates, Joining Forces, to improve resources for veterans and their families, and Let Girls Learn, to secure funding for girls to continue their education. Michelle Obama connected with people all around the country by talking about her own experiences with gender discrimination throughout her childhood, prejudice she has experienced as an African American woman, and the importance of education in her life. As a transformational leader, she motivates her followers, provides ways for everyone to get involved, and educates people on the reasons why her initiatives are beneficial to everyone.

There are many different styles of leadership and all have their applications. For example, in many situations it may be important to work with your team when making decisions, encouraging collaboration and valuing everyone’s contributions. However, at times when quick decisions must be made, it may not be feasible to work in this way. While it is important to recognize what style of leadership comes most naturally to you, it is also necessary to be able to adjust to the people you’re working with. Understanding the people who follow you and being adaptable to the situations you face will help you to achieve long-lasting success.

You can begin by assessing your natural strengths and then focus on how you can adapt them to each new challenge you face. Use your leadership style as a building block. Here is one leadership style quiz to help you get started.

USC’s Leadership Style Quiz:



“Michelle Obama.” The White House, The United States Government, 20 Jan. 2021, https://www.whitehouse.gov/about-the-white-house/first-families/michelle-obama/

“Diana, Princess of Wales.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 6 July 2022, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diana,_Princess_of_Wales

Author: Celeste Kidd-O’Brien

Lisa Edwards, Serving Our Marginalized Communities

Lisa’s work with students and children began over 35 years ago as she began her career in youth and campus ministry. After serving communities in Texas, Pennsylvania, and Florida, Lisa and her family relocated to North Carolina in 2009 to serve as Youth Pastors at CityGate Church. In 2013 she was entrusted with the position of Outreach Pastor with a mission to invest in the community. That mission grew and expanded into the CityGate Dream Center, which defines itself as “a community center to inspire, develop, train, and advocate for children, students, and their families”. 

Lisa’s impact within the walls of the CityGate Dream Center is significant. The collective impact of the Dream Center reaches above 700 middle and high school students. One of the passions of the Dream Center is a deep connection with Latinx and black families who call Burlington home. Due to Lisa’s leadership and embrace of all people, the Center is full of laughter, conversations in many languages, trust, hope, and love. The Center fulfills the immediate needs of underserved people in the Alamance County community in concrete and tangible ways: backpack and school supply distribution, free haircuts, kids camps and sports leagues, job and health fairs, diverse cultural celebrations, fundraisers for community members in need, and fun days for children of the community. 

Lisa’s impact outside of the walls of the Center is equally significant. The trust, hope, and love members of the community experienced were crucial as Lisa led herculean efforts to meet the needs of children’s families during the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Center provided a drive-thru meal distribution, emergency diaper and hygiene product bank, free learning pod, and FEMA vaccination site for the community, particularly touching the lives of Latinx and Black families. Lisa and the Dream Center were Leading the Way in caring for the community during this time. 

Lisa furthers the Center’s reach by partnering with local organizations such as Alamance Community College, Alamance Partnership for Children, Alamance-Burlington School System, Burlington Police Department, Cone Health-Alamance Regional, Elon University, NC Department of Health and Human Services and others. The partnership and support of these organizations is crucial as Lisa advocates for and serves Alamance County and particularly those communities that have previously experienced a lack of resources. 

Susana Goldman, Mobilizing Literacy in Alamance County

Susana Goldman is a self-proclaimed avid reader, promoter of reading and one with a love for the library.  She has been an unfailing and passionate advocate for equity of services and resources at both the professional and personal level.  Susana has worked in the Alamance County Public Library system since 2014 but nearly all of her professional career has been in library services.  She is involved in Library Administration, Library Management, Librarians and Children’s Manager Teams where she makes policy and procedure decisions and determines new service and resource offerings to the public. 

Susana has a special skill and takes pleasure in grant writing and has prepared grants of varying size for Alamance County Public Libraries. Goldman said she loves being involved in the community and being able to get the public library system out into the community.  She has successfully launched the mobile library project.  The Mobile Library travels county-wide, providing the same services as the physical library branches. Users of the Mobile Library may place items on hold, have them delivered, and pick them up the next time the Mobile Library comes to their area. Shelves can be browsed our shelves, which are stocked with popular fiction and nonfiction titles for all ages, audiobooks, DVDs, CDs, and magazines. There is even story time offered at some stops. This project was four years in the making. Goldman said being in the community and visible is “super important for the library”.  but then to be able to connect people with the resources or the technology, in some small ways as well.”

In her effort to connect people with the resources and technology they need, Susana has been engaged in several other initiatives, including but not limited to Mobile Library Café providing internet service to rural areas of Alamance County, discontinuation of fines for overdue books to ensure the library is available to all and align with the library’s vision of creating communities and providing opportunities, and programming to enhance education and literacy.

Susana is a member of the North Carolina Public Library Directors Association (Website committee), Alamance County Racial Equity Collaboration, Habitat for Humanity Women’s Build Committee, and a board member of Alamance Partnership for Children.  Susana noted one of the mantras to which she ascribes is “Life is like a camera.  Focus on what’s important.  Capture the good times; and if things don’t work out, just take another shot.”

Celebrating Women

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Leading the Way

The Founders’ Award is given by the Women’s Resource Center in Alamance County to a female leader who demonstrates the characteristics of our founding members by providing outstanding contributions in the areas of philanthropy, community development and mentoring.

A Rising Star Award will be given to the most deserving nominee under age 40.

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Working Womens Wednesdays

Working Women’s Wednesdays is an exciting monthly series designed by the Women’s Resource Center and dedicated to improving opportunities for women in the workplace. This monthly event brings dynamic speakers and proven leaders to Alamance County.