Last week America recognized Women’s Equality Day! As we continue the fight for equality and justice for all, we hope that you have taken the time to honor the generations of women who paved the way for me while recognizing that many women were excluded. It would be years – decades even – until Indigenous, Asian American, Black and Latina women would be able exercise their right to vote. The 19th Amendment wasn’t perfect, but it was progress.

At Greater Missouri, we recognize this anniversary by celebrating all that has been achieved in the last 100 years. But more importantly, we are focused on the great leaps forward we know will come in the next 100 years. From every corner of the world, with diverse backgrounds, experiences, identities and approaches, women are stepping forward to create change and lead differently – and that difference is desperately needed today.

As we look ahead, we are preparing a virtual welcome to my corner of the state to the resilient Challenge Class of 2020. Thanks to our regional coordinator Debi Boughton who serves as the Kirksville Tourism Director, we have an informative, inspiring, and educational session planned. We will be joined by Chris Chinn, a fifth generation Missouri farmer from just south of me in Clarence, who serves as the Director of the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Director Chinn has held leadership positions in agriculture on the local, state and national level for more than 12 years, working to move the state’s agriculture industry forward. We remain grateful for her continued support of the work of Greater Missouri. If you haven’t had the opportunity to learn from her, you should make plans to join us in October for the Women of the Year Inspiring Conversations Series to hear more about her leadership journey.  Tickets are on sale now.

The Challenge Class will also hear from a diverse panel of women in agriculture, facilitated again this year by Ashley McCarty, the Executive Director of Missouri Farmer’s Care. Breakout rooms will allow more discussion about the food chain from farm to consumer, meat processing interruptions, and other agriculture challenges pre and post COVID.

I will paint a picture of the rural economy to include wind farm production and other area economic challenges and opportunities. And we will hear from the front-line workers at our local meat processing operations to include Smithfield and Western’s Smokehouse.

We know this information will be useful for the 2020 Challenge Class Cohort and appreciate all that have volunteered and pitched in to help us share a window of our world. We are looking forward to spirited sessions in spite of not being able to meet in person.