For generations, people of all backgrounds have been changing the world with their historic firsts. We reflect on truly exceptional men and women from history who were the first to achieve a title or an award in their field.
Though it might seem normal for women to fill certain roles today, for the first woman of color in Congress, Patricia Mink, and the first female Supreme Court Justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, it was anything but. They had to face discrimination based solely on their gender and work twice as hard to overcome those obstacles, proving to the world that women could do it.
Madeleine Albright is an American politician and diplomat who served as the first female United States Secretary of State in U.S. history from 1997 to 2001 under President Bill Clinton. Edith Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1921 for her novel, “The Age of Innocence,” and in 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel. Jeanette Silber gifted the American Cancer Society $2 million in 1991 to fund Jeanette & Joseph Silber Hope Lodge, a home for adult cancer patients. A woman after my own heart, she was still wearing her high heels, even at 105!
There are so many others to aspire to such as Vera Wang, Michelle Obama, Oprah, and Katherine Graham to name a few. Another who is no longer among us is my mother, a highly-touted and respected educator who taught me the value of hard work, selflessness, the power of commitment, to never give up, the importance of having values and integrity, and to be both brave and courageous.
When I look to each of these people and their achievements, one cannot help but be humbled. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be the first at something! Life sometimes unfolds at its own pace and not always by the timelines we create for ourselves. Being surrounded by strong and inventive women and men has been my good fortune. They encouraged me to continue life-long learning lessons and to consider my own “Ripple Effect.” Recognizing that I am the First non-lawyer who is President of the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation is both exhilarating and a wonderful opportunity! I have always been a believer that we are living in the moment and if we have a talent, gifts, abilities, or energies to give—give them now.
McGregor is a leading provider of elder care services, community-based PACE program and a grant-making foundation that supports innovations, work force development and quality of care in all settings.