Published: September 27, 2022 | Updated: September 26, 2022

NIA: Women of Impact in their words

Marilee Wallace

Marilee Wallace

The North Idaho Alliance, AKA NIA, kicks off the Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable, nine-month series and we start right out the gate with some of the region’s top leading ladies.

Our topic is the “I” in the Impacted series with our focus on inspiration. It may sound girlie, but I honestly think kicking off a nine-month women’s roundtable series listening to inspirational stories is rock solid! Hearing other women talk about their life’s journey’s, with all the hardship and hurdles, all the mistakes and the successes and triumphs and their support systems of private cheering fans are empowering.

But why? What is it exactly about inspiring stories and why do they move us? Is it just me or does inspiration matter much to most people? This got me thinking so I went to the google search curser and typed “Why does inspiration matter?” Here’s what came up:

Harvard Business Review, Scott Barry Kaufman writes: “In a culture obsessed with measuring talent and ability, we often overlook the important role of inspiration. Inspiration awakens us to new possibilities by allowing us to transcend our ordinary experiences and limitations. Inspiration propels a person from apathy to possibility, and transforms the way we perceive our own capabilities.”

I liked this answer so I googled some more: I found a list!

• Inspired people share certain optimistic characteristics.

• Inspiration is the springboard for creativity.

• Inspiration facilitates progress toward goals.

• Inspiration increases well-being.

Now, have you ever watched those commercials where the drug company is listing all the symptoms of, say depression or weight gain and your like, “Yes, yes, this is me — I have that! I need that drug!” This is how I felt when reading about inspiration. Yes, yes, I have these symptoms, I want these symptoms and I need this inspiration thing!

I wanted more and since this is an article on and about women, so I typed on Google, “who is the top, most inspirational women of all time?” WHOA. There are so many and depending on which country you want to focus on or what publication you want to read, we could be here all day. So I chose a few from Cosmopolitan Magazine and why not? Chances are you've already heard about a whole bunch of them: Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Malala Yousafzai, Madame Curie and Princess Diana just to name a few badass ladies. You know Amelia Earhart, Oprah and Serena Williams. But there are many more inspirational women who completely changed how we see and move through the world. Inspirational stories like:

Mildred Dresselhaus — One of the first female professors at MIT, whose research was at the cutting edge of carbon-based materials. She and her group made huge advances in carbon nanostructures, and the related technology appears in microelectronics, concrete, sports equipment, and elsewhere in our daily lives. She also fought for equality for women and helped create support systems for female scientists in academia. She's now known as the "Queen of Carbon!"

Sally Ride — The first American woman and the third woman ever to go to space, flying on the Challenger in 1983, Ride was also the first known LGBTQ+ astronaut. She strove to help women and girls who wanted to study STEM subjects, working with science programs and authoring children's books. She was immortalized as a Barbie in 2019.

Sarah Storey is Great Britain's most decorated Paralympian, with 17 (!!) gold medals and 27 (!!) Olympic medals total. Born without a functional left hand, she dealt with bullying, eating disorders and prejudice before becoming one of the world's most decorated, popular and visible Paralympians. She and her husband run Storey Racing, which is focused on mentoring young women, and Storey's been vocal about equity in sports participation and coverage, saying, "It still doesn't receive the mainstream TV coverage and column inches that it deserves." As an advocate for accessibility, she's the Cycling & Walking Commissioner for Greater Manchester.

Inspirational women indeed and to be completely honest, I had never heard of two of these ladies so I was glad to read about them.

This led me to thinking locally. The Cosmo read was great but I was not inspired on a personal, right here, right now level. This is why us gals at NIA felt so committed to open our first Roundtable series with local inspirational women. Listening to stories directly from women who live right next door to us make their journeys tangible, relatable and accessible even encouraging personal conversation after their group presentations end.

Our Sept. 28 storytellers are Marie Widmeyer, successful business owner and 2021 Mrs. Idaho who spent her childhood in more than 20 foster homes. Patty Shea, coach, and consultant whose career path journeyed her through a heavily male dominated industry and Raydeane Owens, author, speaker and co-pastor at Heart of the City Church. Local leading ladies, local heroes to many and certainly inspirations to all that hear their stories!

The Women of Impact Leadership Roundtable meets once a month for a nine-month series, and we base our monthly agenda on the word IMPACTED. We will begin our next series Sept. 28 and meet monthly though May. To see the lineup of our monthly topics and to get details or view additional programs NIA is offering to Impact women in our region, please visit our registration page or join

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Marilee Wallace, IOM, president/CEO of the North Idaho Alliance Women of Impact.