In celebration of Women’s History Month, Preservation Chapel Hill brought together six prominent female leaders Saturday to share their insight on women’s leadership and issues in the Triangle.
The event was entitled “First Ladies: Legacy Builders in Our Community,” and included a panel and film screening at UNC.
The panelists spoke primarily about poverty in North Carolina and the lack of student awareness on the issue.
Panelist Lorna Harris has worked in health care in North Carolina for more than 35 years and said there is a misconception that most students at UNC belong to the middle class.
“At UNC, it’s important for students to realize that the person next to you may have grown up in poverty,” Harris said.
Rachel Seidman, a panelist and the associate director of the Southern Oral History Program, agreed.
She said in Chapel Hill, people tend to see poverty as a global issue, affecting communities in developing countries rather than their own town.
“It takes a courageous student to stand up and redirect the conversation to poverty in their own community,” Seidman said.
The panelists addressed the need for more education about poverty in Chapel Hill and the need for more female leaders.
“I want to demonstrate that there is a place for women in a male-dominated field,” said Carrboro Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison, who was also on the panel.
Kristen Smith, vice president for advocacy and engagement at the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce, said more women should hold positions in the N.C. General Assembly.
Karen Vance, a member of Preservation Chapel Hill, also said the nation needs more women in political office.
“I like getting women back into history,” Vance said. “We still have a long way to go, and it’s things like this that remind us.”
Preservation Chapel Hill intern Langston Harris, a student at North Carolina Central University, agreed.
“We’re not the only ones coming up with fresh ideas,” he said.
But only three people, none of whom were UNC students, attended the event.
“Students missed out on hearing from women leaders who are driving us forward,” Langston Harris said.
Katie Randall, another attendee, said she thinks students would have benefited from attending the panel.
“I thought it was really engaging and inspiring to hear from women of many different backgrounds who have been influential in the community,” Randall said.
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