30 Days of Women: Michelle Hinton
What is there to say about my mother that hasn't been said a million times, or shown 100 percent through her children. My mother has always been the one constant that I could rely on in my life. From singing in concerts as a child, waiting for her to show up as soon as she got off work. Id scan the entire auditorium for her smile and immediately began singing as loud as my lungs could bare. Thats the impact my mother has one people when she walks into a room. She lights it up and inspires you. She is the foundation to our family and has been our inspiration in so many different ways on a regular basis. Not only does she inspire those in her family but she is beacon of light in her community as well. From taking young black kids on national college tours, to organizing fundraisers and helping to raise millions over the course of her life. There isn't a person alive thats been more instrumental in helping me to grow into the man I've become and will continue to grow into.
How old are you?
I am 51 years young
Where are you from? -How long have you lived in Milwaukee? -What is your profession, do you feel it suits you? -How did you get into it? I began my career in the private sector and realized it didn’t feel like I was contributing much to society. Therefore, I began to look for volunteer opportunities to support community impact. I have worked as a leader and fundraiser for many non profit and am now with the American Cancer Society where we work to support patients and families every day battling the cancer fight. I am a Sr. Director at a national non-profit organization. I believe the role suits me as its consistent with my value system and allows me to leverage my time, talents and treasurers in a meaningful way. Its hard to believe I’ve lived in Milwaukee 32 years. I was born and raised in Gary, Indiana however I moved to Milwaukee when I was 19 years old.
How did being a woman make it difficult?
As you know one of the major issues today is wage inequality. More often than not, men in leadership roles are paid significantly higher than women. In a most recent article published by AAUW, “In 2014, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 79 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 21 percent? The gap has narrowed since the 1970s (Figure 1), due largely to women’s progress in education and workforce participation and to men’s wages rising at a slower rate. But progress has stalled in recent years, and the pay gap does not appear likely to go away on its own.” (AAUW, Economic Justice, 10 Simple Truths About Gender Pay Gap, Spring 2016)
How has being a woman in your field been a hindrance,
I wouldn't suggest that being a woman is a hindrance, I feel its empowering. Being at the table where key decisions are made about women in the fight against breast cancer is critical to insuring women’s health needs are being met.
Whats a lesson you would pass on to other young women of color in a male dominated field? Be confident, don’t waiver and keep it 100 professional. At the end of the day, its also important to reach back and support other women. If you have an opportunity to mentor another upcoming professional woman, please do so. I have mentored many young people and still stay connected to them today.
Have you found it hard to date being as independent as you are
In some ways yes. I’ve been a single parent, while completing my undergraduate and graduate degree. I’ve always encouraged my children to work hard and take care of themselves. Dating and getting married was difficult because it was hard to trust someone with my livelihood and with my children. Something I still struggle with today.
Whats been the most difficult thing about being a single mother raising 4 kids
- Whats the hardest thing about being a woman in your shoes?
- Whats something you learned from your father that helped you grow as a woman?
- How have the women in your life prepared you for what it is to be a black single mother in America?
- Do you think its driven you to be the successful person you are now?
- How did being a black woman influence you raising your children?
Raising four kids on my own was tough but something that was necessary. I don’t pat myself on my back for doing it. I just always wanted to provide them with a great life with options and role models. I wanted them to experience family vacations, family dinners, great Christmases. I wanted them to graduate and have all their dreams and aspirations come true. The one thing I learned is that no matter what I wanted for them I had to accept sometimes that what I wanted for them isn’t what they wanted. So I continue to celebrate them every day. And although sometimes they don’t realize it, they are still my number one priority and are the first people I think of when I need to make life choices.