Monday, February 26, 2007

Janet Hill


Another installment in my ongoing series of articles on transgender and non-transgender women who have qualities that I admire.

Janet Hill is one impressive sistah. She's the Vice President of Washington, D.C. corporate consulting firm Alexander & Associates, Inc. She sits on the boards of Sprint Nextel, Inc.; Wendy’s International, Inc.; Dean Foods, Inc., McDonald Dental Laboratory in New Orleans, the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University and the Durham Literacy Council.

She is a former chairwoman of the bipartisan Women’s Campaign Fund, a national PAC raising money for women running for federal, state and local offices. She taught mathematics at the high school and collegiate levels and served during the Carter Administration as a Special Assistant to then Secretary of the Army Clifford Alexander.

Oh, did I mention she's the wife of NFL Hall of Famer Calvin Hill and the mother of Grant Hill?

She was born in New Orleans, Louisiana on December 23, 1947. She attended Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts as one of five African-American students on the entire campus at the time. An interesting footnote from her time at Wellesley is that her college roommate was Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. She graduated in 1969 with a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and also holds an M.A. in mathematics from the University of Chicago.

She's a no-nonsense parent that earned the nickname 'The Sergeant' from her son's friends that she upgraded to 'The General'. She considered it a compliment as she mentioned in a May 12, 2002 CNN interview.

"Oh, it's absolutely a compliment. You know, I was tough as a mother of Grant when he was a young child, but that all ended when he was 18 years old."

She also believes that you have to set high standards for your children and do more than spend quality time with them.

"We aren't challenging them to work hard at something other than perfecting their athletic ability," she said in a 1998 Jet interview.

Like myself, she believes in the importance of role models. She takes it a step further and hopes that youth would look at accessible role models, i.e. the people that are closest to them and who can touch them every day.

"I hope your role models will be your parents, or maybe your teachers, coaches, neighbors or minister."

Janet Hill reminds me in a lot of ways of my own mother and many of the women of her era. It's a level of excellence that I want to emulate as well.

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