When I was elected president of the New Jersey School Boards Association, I was immensely proud and humbled. As I settled into my new role, I found myself thinking about what it means to be a woman in a leadership position, my own leadership journey and how the Association could support female board members.

My mother, who never had the opportunity to go to college, told me from an early age that I would be going. At the time, I did not fully appreciate what she was telling me. I grew up in a pretty progressive household, where being satisfied with achieving less because I was female was never an option. 

When I attended medical school, there were more male than female students. Post graduation, it felt like female doctors were steered to pediatrics as a more suitable specialty for women to pursue.  I eventually found that radiology was something I had more interest in. 

While subtle jabs or out-of-bounds comments never thwarted my career, they did not make it easy.  In many ways, these things only strengthened my resolve and pushed me to fight harder, and with more grit.

Things have improved over my 39-year career, but we have so much more work to do. My daughter, an attorney, has often told me about condescending comments made to her by opposing attorneys. It’s not right, and we need to do better.

In fact, it’s more important than ever for all of us to support women, which is why I’m so pleased that the NJSBA is hosting its Women’s Leadership Conference on Friday, April 19 at the Conference Center at Mercer County Community College in Princeton Junction from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The event is designed to empower and support women with training on work-life balance, resilience, confidence, communication, networking and more. Everyone is welcome to attend.

I’ll be at the conference to share remarks, but I’ve also made it a point to attend other events that focus on supporting women.

Earlier this year, I attended an event hosted by the New Jersey Association of School Administrators.  I heard about this event from Judith Rattner, who served as superintendent of Berkeley Heights before joining NJASA, where she heads women’s leadership efforts as its director of special projects.

She told me about a November workshop at Kean University, where I ran into two subject supervisors from Montville Township, my home district: Dr. Sandra Schwartz, supervisor of mathematics, science and business; and Dr. Tamar Spitzer, supervisor of world language and ESL.

Coincidentally they told me about another women’s leadership conference hosted by NJASA and the NJPSA in March 2024, so naturally I signed up to attend.

These events are the perfect opportunity to support women and give us all the chance to network and learn from each other.

Likewise, the Women’s Conference that the NJSBA is hosting is so important because as women, it can be a challenge to find the right balance between family and career as we seek to improve school board governance.