Heading into March, it will be a year since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic (March 11) and many U.S. states announced stay-at-home orders. In that time, the pandemic has infected millions of people around the world and taken hundreds of thousands of lives. It’s ravaged industries — the hospitality, tourism, and events business among them.

But Greater Missouri women are nothing if not resilient, and the recovery — bumpy as it may be — has begun!

Prior to the pandemic, women made up more than half of the workforce and were on track to reach gender parity within the next decade. Study after study shows that having more women in the workforce is good for women’s equality and their company’s bottom line, but we’ve got thousands of women leaving the workforce each day – voluntarily and involuntarily.   

It’s abundantly clear that we need systemic change to support women whose work is essential to survival both at work and at home. Our biggest strength is to support one another—and that’s everyone. Black, white, male, female, all identities, cultures, ages and races must identify as “we.”

Our GMLC Class of 2021 will meet over three days March 2nd through 4th to discuss our collective needs for survival. These emerging leaders need to come together like never before and find solutions that will work now and after this crisis passes. Our board made the difficult but prudent decision that it is still not safe to meet in person, so their first session as a cohort will be virtual. Each day will focus on a theme:

Day One = Your Power Tools featuring Strengths Based Leadership Keynote and Training facilitated by Leigh Anne Taylor Knight.

Day Two = Building Leadership featuring an introduction to the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial aspects of Missouri State Government. An evening session will include a special session with Missouri Women Legislators and the Class of 2020 will join in the discussion as we integrate the two groups.

Day Three = Show Me Success that will include discussion about the challenges and opportunities for access for primary and secondary education and a keynote from Director Zora Mulligan from the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development. Of course COVID will be a main topic.

At the end of this first session, we are confident that the Class of 2021 AND the Class of 2020 will be more resilient and better prepared for what is in our collective future. And they will have joined a network of accomplished women working to pave the way.