Kate Campbell Stevenson was Maryland’s 2018 Woman of Distinction. In 1995, she read the AAUW publication on How Schools Shortchange Girls and joined the AAUW Kensington-Rockville Branch. That publication was the “spark” that compelled her to combine her passion for the arts and women’s issues to create a series of one-woman shows called Women: Back to the Future.
Kate uses musical theater arts not only to entertain, but also to promote societal change. In her performances, Kate emphasizes historic women role models and shows how they overcame personal and cultural barriers to obtain their goals.
Her latest one-woman show, Forging Frontiers, features historical and contemporary women leaders in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Kate’s programs entertain, educate, and motivate audiences throughout the United States in schools, U.S. government and Military, conferences, and conventions.
Kate is a devoted catalyst for women’s issues, families, and communities. A lifelong community activist, she served as Board Chair of Empowered Women International from 2009-2013 and was recognized in 2012 and 2015 as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women by The Daily Record for her “significant professional accomplishments, outstanding community leadership, and inspirational mentoring.”
Other accolades include the 2014 Maryland BPW, Woman of Achievement; The Maryland State Educators Association statewide recipient of the 2015 Dorothy Lloyd Women’s Rights Award for her outstanding contributions in the areas of Equity, Education, Civil Rights, and Community Leadership. She currently serves as Co-Vice President of Programs for AAUW Maryland; Co-President of AAUW, Kensington-Rockville Branch; Vice-President, Programs, Montgomery County BPW; Board Member of Rachel Carson Landmark Alliance and Cultural Ambassador for the Maryland Women’s Heritage Center.
Kate Campbell Stevenson’s 2018 Remarks:
One of my earliest AHA moments happened when I was in fourth grade. If you recall, fourth graders really want life to be fair.
There was to be an election in my small town and on that same ballot was a referendum to decide whether to raise taxes to pay for special education programs. It looked like a toss-up if the initiative would pass.
Now, my mom was a strong believer in education for all children. So, to convince people to pass the referendum she produced an allegory- a children’s musical “The Pied Piper of Hamlin.” (Now you may remember that story.) It starred her children and about 25 of our friends. She wanted us to demonstrate what happens when adults don’t keep their promises to protect and nurture their children. Well, we did three performances throughout the county to RAVE reviews…but most importantly, through our music and storytelling, we fourth graders helped pass that vote! We learned first-hand how the transformational power of the arts can change the world.
My greatest role model was my mother, Julianne Campbell. Tonight, I invite you to ponder who are the role models in your life? And what makes a REAL leader? I’m going to share in my short time up here some of the important things I’ve learned about REAL leadership.
Let’s start with R. — a leader can ROAR like Gloria Steinem or be RESERVED like Rachel Carson. Both women used powerful words in their own way to change the world. There are all types of leadership styles. Whatever your style—Own Your Power. Own your Power!
At times, you will need to be RADICAL – to think outside the box. Leaders need to be RESILIENT. Life doesn’t always go your way. Be RELENTLESS. RESOLVE to find the best answers to problems and in doing so you will RISE.
E- Effective leaders actively ENGAGE. They look people in the EYE. They ENCOURAGE and EMPOWER. They seek EDUCATION and growth not only for themselves for others as well. Effective leaders EMBRACE change.
A– One of the things I admired about my mother was that she was ALL-INCLUSIVE. She saw potential in everyone no matter ethnicity, abilities or socio-economic status. She was a community activist…not only for special education, but for over a decade she fought to bring a community college to our county to provide educational options of ALL area residents.L- Real leaders are level-headed and they lead by example. You talk the talk. You’d better walk the walk! My mom did that. She left a LEGACY not only to her own family but the tens of thousands of people she touched and LIFTED.
Have LEVITY, a lightness of humor. It’s important to laugh at ourselves, at situations–but never at the expense of others. Be LOVING and kind. Not the gushy gooey kind of love, but the loving, powerful, caring kind. I watched my mother nurture people and coalitions. It’s important to LISTEN. We need more of that in our world today. LISTEN to each other. There can be strong feelings on both sides on any issue- but whatever the situation- be civil. Let’s make America CIVIL again!
As American poet, author/ activist, Maya Angelou said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, and people will forget what you did. But they will never forget the way you made them feel. Treat people with respect.
Thank you to AAUW Maryland for giving me this special recognition. I am so inspired looking out at this fabulous, powerful, audience full of energy and talented women. May we all be R.E.A.L. leaders!
Each one of you can forge new frontiers –whether it’s in STEM, the arts, humanities, or social justice. Each day is a new opportunity to go forward and make a difference.
How can we know all of the magic around us if we don’t wonder “What is just over the hill?” How can we let the waters uncharted lie still there? If we can sail there- all of our aims to fulfill. Shorelines of rock met glaciers that glistened in sunlight. We set our sails in weather both stormy and fair. Testing the seasons. Breaking our own limitations. We must forge the frontiers if we dare.
People out there don’t be afraid of revealing that you burn with such feeling that you might not belong. There are people out there unafraid to feel sorrow, unafraid of tomorrow, unafraid to be weak—unafraid to be strong!
When I was young, I looked out the window for hours- dreams were just that – the vision that floated on air. Now here I stand no more content to imagine—We must forge the frontiers if we dare. YOU can forge the frontiers if YOU dare! ( end song)
Go for it! Thank you……. Onward and upward!