Community Conversations’ panel event focuses on women in leadership positions


On Feb. 12, Maryville College hosted a panel discussion entitled “Blount County Women’s
PAC – Power, Authority and Consensus in Creating Change.” The panel focused on the various
issues affecting women in leadership positions in the modern world and the unique challenges
that women have faced in these positions, both historically and regionally.

The panel consisted of three members: Nina Gregg, principal of Communication Resources
in Maryville and volunteer for over 20 years at various social justice organizations, unions and
educational institutions; Wendy Pitt Reeves, a psychotherapist, motivational speaker and Blount
County Commissioner from 2006-2010; Sharon Hannum, the facilitator for Sisters 4 Tomorrow,
Tennessee Conference Director of Christian Education and district officer for the Board of
Christian Education for Young Adult Ministry. The event was moderated by Sherry Brewer, a
member of the Maryville College Community Conversations Committee.

The panelists met on Tuesday afternoon with some of the young women on campus in
leadership roles to discuss aspects of leadership and to give the young women a chance to learn
from some of the panelists’ experiences. Students were given the opportunity to speak with the
panelists and ask questions to better understand their own roles in the MC community.

“I want to emphasize that notion that leadership is not a position you hold. I believe very
deeply leadership is not a title. Leadership is something we do, and you don’t have to be in
charge to have an impact,” Graves said. “There are many opportunities for all of us, we don’t
all have the same opportunities, where we can make an impact or get involved …. There are
contributions we can make if we are all attentive to the opportunities that arise.”

Pitt Reeves discussed her work with American Association of University Women to better
advocate for women she has encountered in her career that are suffering from harassment and
domestic violence issues. After encountering many young women who faced many forms of
harassment in their relationships, Pitt Reeves became involved in the AAUW’s efforts to reduce
this problem in young women’s relationships.“If I have one piece of advice for you, it is this:
when someone asks you to do something crazy, scary, way beyond you and you have no clue
how to do it, just say yes. You take that leap and a net will appear,” Pitt Reeves said.

Hammon spoke about her work with her passions of education, injustice and women and how
she strived to overcome multiple trials in her life. “When I see anyone or a group of someone
who are being persecuted or judged or treated unfairly or differently, there is just something
inside of me that just can’t sit still in the face of that. I also found that it is not common to lot of
people, women in particular, to save someone else from what you have been through,” Hammon
said. “I would hate to sit idly by and watch somebody else experience what I have experienced
knowing I could have helped or, at least, I could have shared with them, warned them, and done
something. For me, fence-sitting is an abomination. Doing nothing is an abomination. I would
rather see someone do something wrong.”

In consideration of MC students, Hammon spoke about the importance and difference MC
students can potentially make. “It is important for me to tell you college students that you don’t
give up no matter what. No matter what obstacle you are facing, you don’t give up, you don’t
quit and you don’t back down. There are many ways you can accomplish that, but the main thing
is to continue to push, to strive toward the end and to reach your goal so that you can reach back
and help someone else,” Hammon said.

Vandy Kamp, dean of student at MC, also attended the event last Tuesday and was impressed
by the interaction between the panelists and the young women in attendance: “They [panelists] inspire me. I feel a special responsibility to women on campus; to care for them and help them grow.

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