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Posted by Emily Axelrod, Partner, The Axelrod Group.
Emily M. Axelrod is co-founder of The Axelrod Group, Inc. and co-author of Let's Stop Meeting Like This. Emily and Richard contributed to The Change Handbook and The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook and Companion.
I often hold back when an idea pops into my head. Mother taught me to be polite and let others go first. Many women were taught not to speak up because it was unladylike.
Mary Ann Bobosky has taught me to speak up about what I am passionate about.
Mary Ann is passionate about providing high quality public education. She speaks with conviction at civic meetings in her community. She talks with large businesses such as Lucent and Argonne National Laboratory to form partnerships to support teachers and students. She helped spearhead a committee that got a tax referendum passed in a community where 65 percent of the residents did not have kids in school, the community was in an economic downturn, and 75 percent of the referendums in the state had failed.
She speaks from experience with a lilt in her voice and a smile on her face. She is not punishing; she is informing. She is not critical; she is educating. She doesn’t weigh you down with guilt; she gives you the facts.
She is a parent-involvement guru. She advocates for parents to be actually involved, not just informed. She wants them on the school committee that makes decisions about curriculum and other important matters for their children. Mary Ann made parent involvement work in her district and now she travels around the country helping other districts understand involvement and partnering. She doesn’t just speak up at official meetings; Mary Ann speaks up at parties and in everyday conversations. She doesn’t miss an opportunity.
We can learn from Mary Ann to speak up for what we are passionate about. We can speak up where we work, and in the communities where we live. We can speak up about issues that impact us, we can speak up about things we care about. When we speak up, we make a difference to ourselves and those around us.
Emily Axelrod is the cofounder of the Axelrod Group. Emily speaks up with southern wit and charm. She is a contributing author to Peter Block’s The Flawless Consulting Fieldbook and Companion (Jossey-Bass/Pfeiffer, 2000). She is the co-author of You Don’t Have to Do It Alone: How to Involve Others to Get Things Done (Berrett-Koehler, 2004).