>For the first time in the history of the Business and Professional Women of Michigan an Albion woman will be the state president.
Mary Lenardson, a chemist at the City of Jackson Wastewater Treatment Plant the past 21 years, will be installed as president on May 14 at the 2011 BPW State Convention in Saginaw.
The 47-year-old said the position is a “great opportunity to show young women you can come from a small town and achieve success” and she looks forward to being a champion for an organization that focuses on pay equity, health care and other equal rights issues.
One person she’s chomping at the bit to talk to is Governor Rick Snyder.
“I think we have a lot in common as far as wanting success for women — there are women in his life striving for success so I know I could appeal to his interests in that regard as well as how to help legislation be more positive in the state of Michigan,” she said.
Lenardson’s state president predecessor Susan Murphy, the deputy city attorney for the City of Jackson, said she is an ideal leader of the BPW.
“I believe Mary’s strongest strength is her long-term commitment to BPW Michigan and state activities,” Murphy said in an e-mail. “Her commitment to BPW tied with this in-depth knowledge of our process will help her move forward to provide direction to our membership to continue to legislate, advocate, and inform on issues facing our women and families.”
Lenardson has long been a community servant, working with the Jackson United Way, the Albion Festival of Forks and Girl Scouts of the USA.
She has been a member of the Albion BPW since 1997 and worked her way up to the elected office of state vice president last year.
She said she would not be in a position to earn such a title without a family full of strong women and a bevy of mentors to guide her.
“My mother was a strong women and she held national and state offices as well,” Lenardson said. “And my grandmother was very involved in women’s rights, she marched in Lansing for women’s right to vote in 1920 so we have a long history of women striving to help women.”
She said successful Jackson-area women and BPW pundits like Murphy, Ila Smith, Roni Weaver and Shirley Zeller recruited her for the position.
Lenardson will be honored locally at an open house on May 23 from 7-9 p.m. at Sheridan Township Hall.
As published in the Jackson Citizen Patriot on May 13, 2011