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The Lodis Forum: The Beginning

The Lodis Forum: The Beginning

My first year as Chairman was not what I expected. I had three weeks to get my feet wet in my new role, and then the pandemic hit. I went from knowing what to do to being confounded in a matter of days. I spent countless hours in meetings trying to navigate the competing priorities of employee safety and serving our customers as an essential business. Also, I spent a significant amount of time reassuring our corporate board and family shareholders that we had a plan and would survive this crisis. It was a tough first year.

Six months into the pandemic, I was suffering from too much stress and isolation. I wasn’t spending time with my beloved husband and children, getting exercise, or taking a break from the computer. Since I have a severe autoimmune illness, we were taking the lockdown seriously. A mere fever could prove fatal, and we were worried about how my body would react if I got COVID.

In “normal” times, my job is challenging and draining but also energizing.  I was just left with all the complex, mentally and emotionally draining work once we were on lockdown. It was by chance that I found a new source of energy that was safe and socially distanced.

About six months into the pandemic, I spoke at a virtual conference with an excellent networking app. I started reading through attendees’ bios and started reaching out to people who sounded interesting. It was a joy to meet new people. I hadn’t met anyone new in months, and I found it imminently energizing. Each new person I met resulted in additional connections. I stumbled upon another female board chair, and instantly I realized how isolated I had been. Being Chairman is lonely. Being a female Chairman is such a rarity that I had only met one other female Chairman in my entire career. At the end of our first conversation, I felt energized, enthused, and a little bit restored. We vowed to find other women who were Chairman. It was the beginning of The Lodis Forum. Since that first conversation, I have met so many smart, talented, and resilient women. It has been a joy and a lifesaver.



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