In honor of Women's History Month, we sat down with four women from St. Anne's: Chef Ann Pierpont, Margaret Mitchell, Rene Reynolds, and Morgan Boaman. Each of them offers unique perspectives on the significance of Women's History Month, challenges traditional gender norms, and celebrates the contributions of women in their respective roles.

What significance does Women's History Month hold for you personally? 

Chef Ann: I was raised by many strong women in my family.  My mother always taught me that I could be anything I wanted to be. When I chose a career in the food service industry, I quickly learned that as a female chef in a predominantly male industry, I would need to prove myself every step of the way.  When I graduated from culinary school, the male-to-female ratio was 5:1.  Now it is 50% which makes me happy.  I had several strong female role models in my 30-year career with Sodexo who helped shape me into the leader I am today.  For me, it is super important to remember and celebrate all of the women who have paved the way for me to be successful in my chosen career...women like Julia Child and Leah Chase, Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken, Alice Waters, and Lidia Bastianich...they are my heroes. I need to be a role model to these young women becoming chefs, so they do not need to fight their way through the industry like I had to.

Margaret Mitchell: Women's History Month reminds me that many women have worked hard, both publicly and privately, for opportunities. It's a great reminder to pause and reflect on where we are today, how we got here, and where we will go next.

Rene Reynolds: I see this as a time of reflection on the struggles and successes of the women who came before me.  I couldn't be who I am today without their hard work, persistence, and dedication.  I also think about the legacy that I want to leave behind and try to be an example to the young women who are here at St. Anne's.

Morgan Boaman: I appreciate the opportunity to highlight and celebrate women and all the work they have done for different industries and the communities so many of us are a part of. I have loved watching Women’s History Month take more and more of a spotlight over the years, and I think it’s so incredible for our young people to have the opportunity to immerse themselves in learning about the impacts that women have made on the world today.

In what ways do you see your role at St. Anne's as breaking barriers or challenging traditional gender norms?  

Chef Ann: Let's face it...when someone says the word "chef," the image that comes to mind first is Gordon Ramsay or Emeril Lagasse, not Julia Child or Carla Hall.  Why is that when most of us were raised in homes with women in the kitchen? Many people see the leader of a kitchen as being a man, and I want people to know that a woman is just as qualified, skilled, and talented to hold the position of Chef as any man out there.  I love that our kiddos at St. Anne's are learning that, and Mother Irene would be proud.

Margaret Mitchell: St. Anne's was founded by the nuns who cared for children, both as nurses and as educators, so I see myself as carrying on the work they began. I am another woman at another time but in the same place. As Head of Middle School, I feel lucky to carry on the work we've been doing for nearly 75 years. However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that being a woman in a position of power is still only sometimes respected or received well by all in our society. I'm grateful to be in a school where women in leadership are part of our founding, and is not uncommon, but it is still something I am constantly aware of. Having said that, I think I bring great strengths to my role because I am a woman, and I hope that all students, especially girls since we are talking about Women's History Month, will see that they, too, can be leaders and define what that means for themselves. 

Rene Reynolds: Working in HR presents me with the unique opportunity to increase the diversity amongst the faculty and staff through recruitment. To a certain extent, the barriers have already been broken in the independent school world because a lot of time and energy is invested in justice, belonging, and love. What makes St. Anne's poised to succeed in this is the fact that we have a supportive and caring community that welcomes everyone with open arms.  Related to gender norms, I commend how many smart and talented women are in leadership positions here.  Organizations that value diversity and women in leadership are more productive and make better decisions.  Business DEI statistics

Morgan Boaman: The field of outdoor / recreation education is heavily male-dominated. It is an honor to model to our students that women can hold leadership roles, particularly within the field of outdoor education. I think so often, young girls don’t see women in adventurous outdoor settings, and I’m excited to challenge that. 

Reflecting on the theme of Women's History Month, how do you honor and celebrate the contributions of women within the context of your work at St. Anne's?  

Chef Ann: It is important for me to not only feature female chefs through creating a special menu for International Women's Day on March 8 but also to highlight the women of both my Sodexo team and our community throughout the month. Educating our students about food history is as important as it is to feed their bellies.

Margaret Mitchell: I’m always trying to think of ways to celebrate many people and identity groups in areas of the middle school, whether it’s inside or outside the classroom. It’s also important that we celebrate the accomplishments of our own students and teachers. 

Rene Reynolds: The impact that I make in my role that celebrates women is forming policies that support women and families. St. Anne’s is proud to offer 12 weeks of fully paid parental leave. Women in the workforce often face difficult decisions about when to return to work postpartum. Still, I hope this policy allows them some time to figure out their new family dynamics and allows them to return to the career that they love.

Morgan Boaman: I think that helping empower our future generations to participate in outdoor activities in a way that is equal and welcoming to all is huge. I value our history as a school and the story of our founding sisters, who were truly women making waves and changes in their community, and I walk through my lessons and activities with their leadership at the core of my actions. When given the opportunity to reference women scientists, park rangers, and adventurers, I expand on those stories with enthusiasm. 

What woman has inspired you in your life, and what do you want our readers to know about Women's History Month, and what it means to you? 

Chef Ann: My mom has always inspired me to be the best I can be.  And my mentor within Sodexo, Helen Hoban, has taught me what it means to lead by example.  Their guidance and support have been instrumental throughout my life.  Their compassion and determined nature have shown me that it is OK to show empathy for your team while still being a strong leader.  And that if you take care of others, they will take care of you.  I plan to pass on my knowledge to the next generation so that one day in the future, during Women's History Month, someone will say that I inspired them.

Margaret Mitchell: There are too many women who have inspired me to name all of them, but certainly my mother, my sister, and my daughter, as well as my two dear friends from high school. But really, I find inspiration in every woman and girl I meet! I love the variety of expressions of womanhood that are unique to every person, and that inspires me. One thing I want our readers to know as they think about Women's History Month is that as we continue to see and value all people for all their uniqueness, the world becomes a more and more beautiful, hopeful place. 

Rene Reynolds: My mother has been a large inspiration in my life. Because of the things I learned from her growing up, I ended up loving the field of human resources.  My mother worked as a union representative for the Local Seven Union, which unionizes our local King Soopers and Safeway stores.  Being a union rep and an HR director are very similar because you are helping to sort out grievances, ensuring people are fairly compensated and being a sounding board for employees. The tools she equipped me with when I was younger (compassion, humor, empathy) help me in my role every day.

Morgan Boaman: There are so many women who have served in the role of “inspiration.” I am forever in awe of the many wonderful women I work with daily; I have friends who challenge gender norms in their chosen fields, and I look to my mother, grandmother, and aunts for inspiration regularly. When I think about a woman in conservation and environmental education who inspires me, Jane Goodall is the first to come to mind. Jane’s incredible scientific work and perseverance in the face of adversity will forever be a powerful story to aspire to.  I’ve had the pleasure of hearing her speak twice, and I met her after one of those engagements: Meet Your Heroes. She was delighted to meet my friends and me and to hear about our work in conservation education. She reminded us that we all have the ability and responsibility to make a difference.

As we celebrate Women's History Month, it's clear that the women of St. Anne's embody the spirit of resilience, empowerment, and inspiration. From Chef Ann's culinary leadership to Margaret's dedication to education, from Rene's commitment to effective HR practices to Morgan's passion for outdoor education, each woman brings her own unique strengths and perspectives to the table.

Through their stories and contributions, they remind us of the countless women who have shaped history and continue to inspire us today. As we honor the women who have paved the way, let us also recognize the importance of supporting and empowering future generations of women to achieve their dreams and make a difference in the world.