The other night I attended a cocktail reception for the Indianapolis Business Journal’s 40 under 40. It was the celebration of the incoming class as well as alums. I was honored to be a guest of my dear friend Jenny Massey, a recent alum of this fraternity.
The publisher of the IBJ, Greg Morris, in his first job out of college, worked with my mom. He and his wife are big fans of hers.
My mom was a high-level account executive at a very popular local radio station, WIBC. She worked mostly with men. She was a pioneer for women in sales and marketing during the 80s and early 90s.
It was a pleasure listening to stories about my mom in this manner, for I’d not heard this before.
“You didn’t mess with Kenna.”
“She was a force.”
“She was breaking ceilings.”
“She put up with a lot of bullshit.”
“If you were a powerful female and also pretty, you were called a bitch.”
I never questioned that she was a hard worker. She was a doer and got shit done. She was always an upbeat, positive ball of energy. To her credit, I never heard her complain about a single incident. This could be that she was too busy to care, for she was kinetic energy. I knew many, if not all, of her clients, as I attended many sporting events and concerts thanks to her connections. I was the defacto intern, having spent many of my teenage summers schlepping bumper stickers for the radio station at the State Fair or helping with other promotional events.
My mom made it look easy. While I knew struggles existed on some level, she appeared as if there was no issue, ever, for women in the workplace. I had no idea of the full reality of her experiences.
Only a year ago on the way to her grandson’s soccer game, upon passing a business that has been cut off by a newly elevated road, did I hear her mention something about karma as she smiled.
I’ve been asked many times who my mentors are, and have not hesitated to mention unequivocally my mom and Kathy Kebo (an amazing friend and another force of nature).
The comments shared describing my mom’s presence and work ethic resonate with me, for most all of those comments are ones that I have heard – spoken of me, so I must be doing something right. Apparently, I come from a line of strong women, and my daughter is no exception, in fact, I pale in comparison.
The nut doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or in this case, the ovaries.