The Ambassador’s Remarks for the 101 Women Leaders’ Breakfast

As Prepared

It is a real pleasure to be here today with so many distinguished women who are being honored for their leadership in Mexico and beyond. As the first woman Ambassador of the United States to Mexico, I am accustomed to being the only woman in the room. Today is the opposite of that, and it is a beautiful sight!

I want to thank El Universal, and the Ealy family, especially, for recognizing the critical contributions of women leaders through this annual event and through the coverage El Universal provides, not just around International Women’s Day in March, but throughout the year.

This year on International Women’s Day, the U.S. joined the Embassies of Canada, Sweden, Australia, Denmark, Finland, Norway, and the Netherlands, to issue a statement commending Mexico’s efforts. Among other things, we (restated our commitment) to collaborating with Mexico in promoting gender equality, so that all Mexican women and girls can reach their full potential.”

That last phrase – about helping women and girls to reach their full potential—should be the goal of women leaders—of ALL leaders—in all sectors of society.

Like many of us in this room, I was able to realize my potential, thanks in large part to the contributions of great mentors. Women and men were generous with their time, reflections, and insight, on how to be a better leader. I would like to briefly share some of that advice.

My first and perhaps most influential mentor, my mother, was the one who told me that it IS possible for women to have it all. She believed firmly we can have fulfilling professional lives and rewarding family lives, but perhaps not at the same time. In the lives of many women, there are moments when we focus on family, either because of necessity or because of personal choice, and there are other moments when we focus on our professional lives.   Knowing that I did not have to sacrifice my career because I took some time to stay at home with my sons when they were young was very important to me. The truth is each part of our lives enriches the others.

Thankfully, I’ve had bosses, including one who later was Ambassador to Mexico, who recognized this, and I was also blessed with a supportive family. When there was a class bake sale or party at school, my sons knew to sign up to bring the paper plates and napkins, rather than a tray of brownies, because their mom never had time to bake! My husband Jonathan cooked dinner most nights. Their support—and sometimes sacrifices—have made it possible for me to achieve professional successes. And I think they’d say it’s been worth it.

But these sacrifices pale in comparison to those of the courageous women who face threats and violence in their daily lives. Miroslava Breach is the latest Mexican victim of violence – a violence that aims to silence truth and limit freedom of expression. Let us honor her courage and echo the calls for justice in her case and many, many others.

I would also like to recognize Perla Diaz and the women of MAEPEC, who are doing excellent work to promote women in the fields of journalism and communications. Thank you for the opportunity to share the floor with such impressive women leaders. May we all start seeing more meetings that look like this. Thank you.