International Women's Day
Kelli Dunaway
Director of Learning & Development
St. Louis
While most of you know me as your Director of Learning & Development, I am also an elected Councilwoman on the St. Louis County Council, where I represent over 100,000 St. Louis Countians. Following my election last summer, I became a member of the only women-majority legislative body in the State of Missouri (and from what I can tell, the only women-majority legislative body in any city with a BCLP office (please correct me if I'm wrong!)).

Being involved in politics isn't new to me. I was the 4th grader watching presidential debates, and the only student in my high school to attend a presidential inauguration. Following my law school graduation, I worked on a number of candidate and issue campaigns, and was heavily involved in California politics, but never saw myself as the candidate. Over time, I began to see the heavy tolls paid by women and people of color because of laws and policies that aren't designed by and for us, and the systemic disadvantages baked into government and business structures that operate without much of our input, and I decided it was time for my voice to be heard.

I ran for office because I want political, social, and justice systems that benefit all of us. I am a legislator because I believe our policy and laws should be driven by inclusive viewpoints and advance a system that allows each of us to rise to our potential. And because I so strongly believe that I should be the change I want to see in the world, I feel I have no choice but to lead in the public arena.

The jury is still out on whether my call to public service is a curse or a blessing. Having two full time jobs and two little kids means I'm making a lot of sacrifices (mostly to sleep and a personal life) to make the world a better place. And because public service is thankless, really really hard, and requires an exhausting amount of patience and thicker skin than I'll ever have, sometimes I'm not so sure I'm best suited for the job. But I feel I must. At least until our representation is more reflective of who we are as Americans.

Since the very first moment I inquired about possibly getting involved in Missouri politics, BCLP has been in my corner! I could never have started this journey, much less found success, without the support and encouragement of my friends, managers, and colleagues at BCLP, even those with a different political philosophy. My supporters in this firm have really shown up for me. You have hosted campaign events and donated thousands of dollars to my campaigns. You have endorsed and introduced me to other community and Firm leaders who have invested in me. You have encouraged me through the lowest of the lows and joined me in celebrating the highs. And you help me stay focused on why I'm doing this, why it matters to our community and our country, and why it matters to you and your family. Thank.You.So.Much.

As we celebrate International Women's Day, I want to make sure we are celebrating not just the amazing women at BCLP, but all of the champions of women who fight alongside us for our equality!