Virginia Richardson

Parent Training Manager

Minneapolis, MN

I believe leadership is about saying 'yes' but it is also about having confidence in one’s self and not being afraid to move out of your comfort zone.

At what point in time did I decide to step out and be a leader?  Was it:

… At five years of age when I decided I did not want to be a farmer or a farmer’s wife and I did not want to live in a hot climate.

… When graduating at the top of my class of 35 students from a black country high school. I later understood that I did not want to live in a segregated part of the US.

… When I decided with no input from high school educators and with minimum guidance from my parents that I wanted to attend a college 1,000 miles away. I had only ventured 100 miles from home at that time. I arrived at the train station in a strange city to attend college where I knew no one, with money from my parents and the direction to stay in “the best hotel in town.” I found the “best” and later learned that the St. Paul Hotel had only accepted blacks two weeks prior to my arrival.

… Having my parents, who were farmers, give me funds for the entire school year and managing those funds so I asked for no more money that year. I realized my parents had given me all of their excess funds for my education.

… I found I could hold my own in a large university. After I was married and involved in politics, I was asked if I would consider having my name placed in nomination for a political office that would be decided the next day. After saying “yes,” I found I could compete and win against a person with name recognition and service in the political party. I realized I could convince people to vote for me by meeting and talking individually to the delegates.

… When I asked to be on my church’s finance committee so I could learn to read spreadsheets and manage funds of an organization.

… The time I was asked to be chair of PACER’s board (PACER is an organization for children with disabilities) and I said “yes.”

… When I resigned as Board Chair to take a position with PACER, where today I am Manager of Parent Training.

I believe leadership is about saying “yes” but it is also about having confidence in one’s self and not being afraid to move out of your comfort zone. It is about understanding your own abilities and the financial aspect of your decisions. Others see in me good decision-making abilities. In all areas of my life I have been sought out for leadership roles.

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