In celebration of Women’s History Month, North Gwinnett Voice staff member Denise Rumbaugh reached out to women whose accomplishments have been influential and impactful in several areas, including education, politics, media and business. She asked each woman about other women throughout history they admire, the most influential women in their own lives, advice they would share with women and girls on achieving their own goals and dreams and the importance of celebrating women’s history. The NGV has compiled their responses in celebration of Women’s History Month and in honor of these incredible women leaving their marks.
Charlotte Nash is the second woman elected to serve as chair of the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, and in retirement, she now serves on the Leadership Gwinnett Foundation Board and as president of the Gwinnett Historical Society.
Denise Rumbaugh: Is there any particular woman or are there women in history you admire? What do you admire about her or them?
Charlotte Nash: Without a doubt, I admire Elizabeth I of Great Britain for the way she decided upon her own path and successfully ruled her country for 44 years. She used her wits and people savvy to inspire loyalty from good men who supported her despite her refusal to fit herself into the standard mode of marrying and having children to follow her to the throne. She avoided controversy whenever possible, although there were certainly attempts by others to stir things up, and focused upon what was best for Great Britain. Through good leadership by her and her advisers, Great Britain survived and thrived in spite of its small size and limited resources when compared to other nations, like Spain and France.
DR: Who has been the most influential woman in your life and why?
CN: My maternal grandmother was very influential in my life since I spent so much time with her. My mother worked outside the home for most of her life, including my childhood years, and my sister and I stayed with our grandmother. My grandmother’s quiet strength, unconditional love, practical approach to life and firm faith served as important parts of the foundation of my life. Once I was an adult and learned more about her life, I realized that she accomplished a great deal independently from her husband. While he was gone from home for extended periods of time, she kept the farm and household going and cared for her two daughters.
DR: What advice would you share with women and girls on working to achieve their goals and dreams?
CN: Get to know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Find something you are passionate about and focus on that, whether as a career or an avocation, or maybe both. Learn to be comfortable with taking informed risks, not blindly or impulsively, but as a conscious path toward things you want to accomplish. Be authentically kind to those around you, but hold your own in discussions and disagreements. Finally, look for common ground and ways to mitigate conflict by finding ways for all to benefit rather than there being winners and losers.
DR: What do you think is the importance of celebrating women’s history?
CN: Celebrating women’s history can show today’s young women and girls that there are many paths to success, and they have choices. They can be fulltime homemakers, “professional” volunteers, political leaders or businesswomen. They can even mix and match all of these roles across their lives. Celebrating women from history helps today’s women and girls feel a connection to their sisters from the past and a reminder that other women find a way to live impactful lives despite challenges that often outweigh those we experience today.