Today, people throughout the world will pause to celebrate “the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future.” Commemorated  March 8th every year for the past one hundred years, International Women’s Day honors women and their accomplishments and it continues its 100-year-old year old campaign for women’s rights. A one hundred year long history of fighting to end violence against women, for gender equality and equal pay, and for equal access to education, science and technology for all women across the globe.

Thinking about the significance of International Women’s Day and the women in my own life I realized that I have been profoundly impacted by a long list of strong, intelligent and talented women who have left an indelible footprint on my life. Teachers and professors who guided and inspired me, friends and family who were my role models, and the many women I had the utmost pleasure to work for. From three amazing female managers at one of my earliest jobs at McDonalds to high-ranking government civilians and corporate executives in companies such as EDS and Lockheed Martin.

But the most influential female role model in my life by far has been my mother. Raised during the 1940s and 1950s, she left high school to do what women did in those days. Get married and raise children. But as women across the globe grew restless with the status quo, so did she. Bucking the system she earned her high school diploma (and later a degree in Anthropology) and made her way in a man’s world, carving out a career in social services that lasted her into retirement.

Her journey was not without its struggles though and the road was long and difficult. But my mother, and the many women like her who struck out during the Women’s Movement paved the way for our generation and those that will follow us.

So for International Women’s Day today, I would like to take a moment to honor my mother and the many influential women she brought into my life. I’d like to celebrate her accomplishments and thank her for making me the woman I am today. I’d also like to honor my bosses, friends, colleagues, and teachers past and present who have inspired me. Finally, I’d like to honor the amazing women I have met since founding Napoli Unplugged. A long list of women who continue to encourage and support me by both words and deeds.