Women’s history: Seven decades of wisdom from 24 locals we admire


Marilyn Fantino, Tamika Richeson, Cathy Coffman. Photo: Jackson Smith Marilyn Fantino, Tamika Richeson, Cathy Coffman. Photo: Jackson Smith

In this week’s Q&A, we asked you to tell us what women you find most inspiring. Your answers are varied—mothers, friends, employers—but not unexpected. And as I began to think about my own answer to that question, I realized the women I would choose (my mom, a handful of remarkable friends) shared the same trait: courage. In one way or another, they rose above a personal challenge and were brave enough to chart their own course—my mom, who ran a successful business and was a single mother for the first five years of my life; my friend Britt, who recently earned a master of divinity degree, which she’ll use to help others in the LGBT community feel love and acceptance; and my friend Jen, who quite literally navigated her way to a new life as she made a 10,000-mile trip around the U.S. by herself. Really, courage is what all of the women in this issue have in common. But we’ll get back to them in a second.

For the first time in C-VILLE’s history, women are running the show. With a female CFO, a female publisher, and a female editor-in-chief (not to mention an entirely female editorial staff), we felt especially equipped (and fortunate!) to pay tribute to some of the very noteworthy women in our midst.

What follows is an appreciation of the kind of women we’d like to grow up to be (“The kind of women we just want to crouch down next to for a while,” said our editor in a planning meeting for this issue). You’ll find profiles of seven local ladies from ages 28 to 81—teachers, businesswomen, volunteers, and more—as well as words of wisdom from more than 15 others we couldn’t resist including.

They answered our questions on everything from their greatest struggles to their biggest influences, and offered advice for other women, both younger and older. There’s plenty of insight from each of them, but the central theme is clear: No matter one’s age, there will always be more to learn about the experience of being a woman. Let’s teach each other.—Caite White

By Graelyn Brashear, Elizabeth Derby, Laura Ingles, Tami Keaveny, Susan Sorensen, Courteney Stuart, and Caite White