Punk Rock HR Role Model: Ann Richards

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Who is this generation’s Ann Richards?

In August/September 1988, I was a young girl in Chicago entering high school. I had bleach-blonde hair, braces, and a crappy attitude. I harbored a cringeworthy dream of being a punk-rock superstar. I hated conventional wisdom, I hated my Catholic school uniform, and I had no tolerance for my parents, my biology class, or my algebra teacher.

Needless to say, I was not the target demographic for the Democratic National Committee; however, I was smart enough to take my mom’s advice and shut up for five minutes on a late summer night in 1988. I plopped myself down in front of our television in Chicago and watched the DNC convention. The Democrats were nominating some hairy dude named Michael Dukakis to run against George HW Bush, and I was blown away by the keynote speaker at the DNC convention.

The speaker, Ann Richards, had a crazy beehive hairdo and wore a ton of make-up. When she spoke in her southern accent, I was inspired and electrified. The first thing I remember Mrs. Richards saying was,

I’m delighted to be here with you this evening, because after listening to George Bush all these years, I figured you needed to know what a real Texas accent sounds like. Twelve years ago Barbara Jordan, another Texas woman, Barbara made the keynote address to this convention, and two women in a hundred and sixty years is about par for the course. But if you give us a chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.

I now realize that, in retrospect, the Baby Jesus must have intervened back in 1988. It turns out that Ann Richards — a feminist and a governor from a state I had never visited — gave me my first exposure to the WARN Act, manufacturing challenges, and globalization issues that would plague me (as a Human Resources pro) throughout my adult life.

They [the GOP] told working mothers it

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