President's Message - February 2022

Love and Leadership…

Mary McKelvey

WLALA President 2021-2022

As we enter the month of February, I pause to ponder the enigma and many faces of “love” and to explore its place in all aspects of my life—including the practice of law, professional relationships, and my leadership roles.  We are all familiar with the romanticized version of love—the heart-pounding evocation of emotion that allows us to soar to great heights or send us crashing to new depths of grief or pain.  But there are so many other facets of this thing called love.  Authentic love is fearless, wise, and true; and the power of this love lies in its ability to unify.     

Great love requires great sacrifice.  The love that a mother has for her child is fierce, yet selfless insofar as we would sacrifice just about anything, including our lives, for our children. I think the epitome of love is embodied in the many parents living in hopeless, dangerous countries who relinquish their children to strangers whom they must trust to guide their children’s journey to the United States in hopes of a better life for them.  I can think of no greater sacrifice or a more painful and selfless act. 

Love is courageous action, and its presence in leadership and citizenship is inspirational in a uniquely powerful way.  Having recently celebrated what would have been the 93rd birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., one of our greatest American heroes, I am reminded of and inspired by a great love in action.  He articulated inspirational visions for our country that seemed possible because he believed in his vision with conviction and, as a result, we felt the resonant truth of his words.  Dr. King explained, motivated, and inspired all of us to reach for something not yet manifest, despite the fear and hate that his words invoked in so many.  That hate ultimately led to his demise, but because of his courageous action, his words continue to invite and inspire us to be active participants in creating one community that is far greater than the sum of its parts. 

Love is wise and true. I am reminded of the unique blend of strength and softness, toughness and tenderness, that the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou embodied in every facet of her being. She once said of love, “Love liberates. It doesn’t just hold—that’s ego. Love liberates. It doesn’t bind.” Dr. Angelou showed the world what a woman who owns her power with poise looks like.  She exemplified a power born of great wisdom and great love. The potential for these qualities in leadership today is infinite, and its time has come. 

Courageous love requires us to speak up for those things we believe in and to facilitate needed change, especially when there are issues at stake that have the potential for a greater good for others.  Love requires us to reach beyond our comfort zone and take a stand, even though we may not be approved of or embraced by others.  It requires us each to find our own unique blend of strength and compassion, and recognize and redefine the intersection of love and leadership in the process.  This February, I invite you to step back from the roses and chocolates to reflect for a moment on the ways you can take a stand in the name of love.