When I was young girl, I dreamed of being Barbara Walters. She was one of the few professional role models I had growing up in a small, rural town. I thought she had such a cool job—meeting new people and asking them questions. My curiosity was a huge driver in my decision to pursue a journalism degree and so was Barbara.
To me, Barbara was a trailblazer, ambitious, inspirational and breaking barriers in a male dominated field. I recognized even as a young woman that she was unique, powerful in her own right and willing to go to the mat for her career.
When I learned that she passed away on Dec. 30, I was saddened by her passing. My career idol, touchstone and inspiration was gone from this world.
As I watched the many tributes, the point that was mentioned over and over was that she blazed a trail for so many women who followed. In fact, one video they showed was when she retired from The View and all the women who had worked with her or were mentored by her showed up to celebrate her. The studio was packed.
Her influence and contributions will be felt for generations to come. Her accomplishments will speak for themselves over the years. Yet, the most poignant impact will be made through the generations of women who will carry forward her legacy as a mentor, colleague and role model.
CREW Network has the same opportunity to build a cadre of women leaders into the future. Support rising women in your organization by sending them to our Emerging Leaders Retreat and give them the skills they need to build rewarding careers. Fund college scholarships by making a gift to our Foundation and encourage young women in our industry to dream big.
In this new year, I challenge each of you to take a page out of Barbara Walters' book. Meet new people. Ask them questions. Provide opportunities for them to shine. Lift them up. Give them your time and expertise.
We all have a responsibility to those who come behind us. Let’s each put our hand back (or out) and bring another woman with us as we move forward. Your legacy is yours to make. Start now. RIP Barbara Walters.
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Wendy Mann is the chief executive officer of Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) Network and president of the CREW Network Foundation.