Happy International Women’s Day! We are celebrating today by sharing inspiring, thoughtful interviews with two of Open Arms’ women leaders. Read the full interview with Board Chair Chandra Torgerson below, and check out our interview with CEO Leah Hébert Welles here.
How long have you been with Open Arms, and what brought you to your current role at OAM?
I have been an enthusiastic supporter and donor to Open Arms for 18 years. Open Arms fits right in my life purpose of making a difference for people. I have served people in the area of healthcare for over 30 years, and food is such an important part of all of our lives for physical and mental health. Seven years ago, I was asked to consider being on the Board of Directors by Tim FunkMeyer. I had always hoped to do that, and the timing was right; it has been incredible to see how much Open Arms has grown during this time. It has been an incredible privilege to serve as Open Arms’ Board Chair.
What is your favorite aspect of your current role at Open Arms?
I absolutely LOVE being involved in the discussions focusing on the future of Open Arms. How can we serve more people? How do we expand our programs in order to do that? I really enjoy supporting Leah and the leadership team in whatever way I can and delivering meals to the Open Arms clients!!
In honor of this year’s theme #ChoosetoChallenge, how do you personally choose to challenge?
I choose to challenge in a variety of ways by reading, discussing, educating, participating, sharing, mentoring and leading. Gender bias and inequality are deeply embedded in our culture and society. I believe many women and men don’t even recognize it, much less understand how unrecognized bias impacts woman in all areas of employment, education and society. We all have to do our part to help others “see” this bias by pointing out examples, storytelling and/or holding other woman up are great ways we will be able to become a more equitable society and world.
How have you handled challenges you’ve been presented with in your careers or life in general?
I was born with some innate ability to see the positive in any situation. From that view, I can be grateful, reflect on the situation and then try to understand why “it” “feels” so bad, hard or not right. Depending on the situation, I may seek out advice and perspective from others involved and not involved. I find the 80/20 rule applies: 80% of the time I deal with the issue directly and respectfully, and 20% of the time it may not be worth my emotional health to confront the issue. I then try hard to “let it go.” Having tough conversations can be intimidating, but I have found them to be very empowering.
What advice would you like to share with our future women leaders?
The best advice I have is to trust the vision (dream) you have for your future, be positive, say “yes” to opportunities and find a mentor. We all stand on the shoulders of many brave, courageous women who have gone before us. It is important to know you are not alone, that you are courageous and have all you need for the success you envision for yourself.