This speech was specially prepared by Lena Kennedy as her keynote address to be presented at the Soropimists ‘For the Love of Women’ Beneﬁt Luncheon on last Saturday, March 11th. However, due to circumstances beyond her control, she was not given the opportunity to give the speech. The Journal felt, because of her importance to the community, that she should be given the opportunity to give the speech she would have presented, if given the opportunity, to the community and, more importantly, to honor those she wants to recognize and thank…
Make Bold Choices. Forgiveness is beautiful, yet hard, it is freedom! You are beautiful! Life is a gift! What is your role in this life’s journey?
I congratulate my fellow honorees: Hon. Carol Liu and Jan Sanders. How many of you saw Hidden Figures? This award is given because of the work we do in producing the annual So. Cal Women’s Health Conference. This award reminds me of our local “Hidden Figures” whom I would like to thank for quietly making our community stronger. I thank these amazing “Hidden Figures” who make the So. Calif. Women’s Health Conference succeed annually.
Hon. Kathryn Barger, 5th District Supervisor who graciously co-chairs the conference each year.
Denise Morey for all the work you do and you never complain.
Beverly Morgan Sandoz for leading the workshops, speakers and moderators.
Elizabeth Ellis for entertaining every year with a fabulous fashion show and a production produced by her family.
Geraldine Sudduth for securing amazing vendors and working with the hospitals to provide services to the community at no cost – mammograms, bone density testing, eye examines, ﬂu shots and so many more services.
Mrs. Sam Yarbrough whom I’ve known since I was 13 years old and everyone knows that the conference would not happen without Mrs. Yarbrough. She is quiet but effective!
My amazing men: Harlan Ward, Clark Rucker, Danny Parker and Andrew Oliver. Andrew and I came up with the MAN CAVE concept and I thank these men for making that component of the conference a success.
This award is for us – all of the above-mentioned people and so many other incredible members who make the conference happen. I accept this award for us and the work we do. You work with me and you still love me – thank you to all!
Brenda asked me to say a few words about supporting women and the work I do in the community. I will be mindful of the time and be brief.
My philosophy and life perspective have been shaped by many inﬂ uences.
First and foremost, I was fortunate enough to be raised by parents, Leola and Thomas Kennedy, who were wealthy in spirit and gave me the priceless inheritance of a world of possibilities. My parents taught me that I was a child of King – in our Christian faith our God and Father is known as a king, and my parents and the word which is the gospel we study and believe said I am his daughter. That makes me the daughter of a King. I believe that and I conduct myself accordingly.
My parents and a village full of supportive family, friends, teachers and mentors believed in me and gave me unconditional support as I grew up. Today’s young women need that same unconditional support and nurturing. I believe that investing in young women generates phenomenal returns to society. I won’t apologize for opening the door for people who look like me, because when I do, I know that door is thereby open to everyone. I recognize that we all have possibilities and potential.
Each of us has a role to play and every role is equally important. And, each role has the potential to be what we make it. An enterprising secretary can open a temp agency; a community minded person can volunteer alongside a CEO and network her way to a job. Yesterday, I met the ﬁ rst women CEO and President Geisha J. Williams of PG &E who did just that.
Today I have some incredible young women who are not just aspiring but achieving they are my guests: Serge Nelson, Kelly Gibson, Shantell Kennedy, China Spratling, my darling, darling daughter Kari Kennedy, Allisonne Crawford, Barbara Williams and Tara Newman. THESE YOUNG WOMEN ARE OUR FUTURE. I like to be around them because as I invest in them they invest in me and keep me up to date. Thank you all for being here today.
We women must support each other and I know that former State Senator Carol Liu looks out for the professional, economic and personal life of other women. I know because I worked for her. Thank you for the doors you opened for me.
I not only value the special women in my life, but also I value the special men in my life: I value my brother John for his commitment to community and is ability to take on tough issues as a Councilmember and impacts the community and individuals that are often time overlooked. My brother Malcolm who has been a mentor to my son. My family friend Danny Parker for being a good sounding board and reliable helping hand.
And then God blessed me with a wonderful son Jonathan Kennedy who makes me proud daily for what he has become – a ﬁne young man, a lovely husband, a thoughtful brother and a supportive Uncle. God smiled on me when he gave me Jonathan. I love you!
A constant and important part of my life has been music, gospel, classical, jazz and R & B. Music gives me enjoyment, inspiration and insight.
When I hear Helen Reddy say “I am woman hear me roar in numbers too big to ignore,” I roar back because I won’t be ignored or silenced or dismissed. I matter; we all matter.
When I hear Aretha Franklin spell RESPECT, the self-conﬁdence my parents instilled in me spells it L-E-N-A, because a better way and a better day is mine to make.
When I hear Gloria Gaynor deﬁantly proclaim “I Will Survive,” I think the bar is too low. We should not just survive, but thrive, live, laugh, cry. Our journey matters.
When I hear the Pointer Sisters sing “Yes We Can Can,” I have to second that emotion because believing leads to achieving. Who would imagine that a little girl from Pasadena like me would dine at a State Dinner with the President of United States, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and every US cabinet Secretary and their spouses and sit next to former President Clinton and Secretary Hillary Clinton. Then receiving an appointed to the Kennedy Center for the Arts Board by President Obama. Who would imagine? When we believe in ourselves and surround ourselves with uplifting, positive people, things beyond your imagination can become reality.
When Tina Turner asks “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” I say everything because I love myself, I love my family, [Allie, China, Shantell, Geraldine, Rosalinda, Sharon, Malcolm, Elizabeth, Glenda, Jahmal, Jarius, Viola, Johnnie, and then there is Tyesa Denise Morey who came to me as a gift from God. In his inﬁ nite wisdom blessed me with a jewel who is full of wisdom. I love you Tyesa and thank you for giving me a wonderful Son-in-Law Chris and my heartbeat: my grandchildren Savannah and Christopher Morey who bring me joy every day].
I love my friends – many of you are here today. [Always make sure you send time with your girlfriends; I have my Pasadena girlfriends who get together once a month and we learn so much from each other] I have my girlfriends Lyla and Dianne who get together quarterly for dinner. I get wisdom from them. I also have a girlfriend with whom I talk every day and we talk about everything from saving the world to nothing. I also have my church friends – FAME is in the house as well as FAME First Lady Melinda Campbell. I love my neighbors and I love my community. And, because my love has no bounds, I answer when called.
My life’s journey has led to a few key beliefs that I hold:
A life rooted in service to others is a life well lived. Be sure that any limitations are external, not internal.
We grow by making NEW mistakes. We are all works in progress who may struggle along the way, but we must be sure to never waver in trying to get better.
In closing, I offer a few suggestions for the women (and men too) gathered here today:
- Spend time everyday pursuing and developing your dreams.
- Spend time every week volunteering and helping others.
- Form a team of women who will support, encourage and advise each other.
- Have a spiritual base.
- Make time for personal and Professional development
- And ﬁnally, make time for yourself!
And I leave you with this quote:
“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall