Women of my generation who have “power” in the workplace have usually gained it by doing the heavy lifting or by blazing their own trails. Feminist scholar Carolyn Heilbrun defines power as “the ability to take one’s place in whatever discourse is essential to action and the right to have one’s part matter.” Unlike 40 years ago, we are living in a world of female Supreme Court justices, astronauts, corporate executives and police officers. Over the last century, we have gained the vote, a voice and place at the table.

The mantra at the YWCA is “Lift as you Climb.” We, as women who lead, are role models (whether we are aware of it or not) to younger women. Despite the seeming progress, this next generation is still watching, listening and striving to be like us: powerful women. And we have the obligation to reach down—and lift them up. Some qualities that have been traditionally considered “female traits,” like collaboration, communication skills, multi-tasking and emotional intelligence, are now being lauded as desired leadership skills. We actually are bringing a new sensibility to the centers of power, which can hopefully make them better, more equitable and more compassionate. Part of that sensibility is nurturing other women: helping them to find their power and their place. There is nothing more inspiring than to be part of a younger woman’s success; it is a rare gift that only women of our generation can appreciate.

For 35 years, the YWCA has been honoring women through our annual Salute to Career Women of Achievement. Thus far we have recognized 282 local women for their contributions to the workplace. We have also created a space for younger women: our “Rising Stars,” who can learn from and be mentored by these talented women. We have featured some of this century’s most accomplished women as keynote speakers for this event, including Jane Bryant Quinn, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Maya Angelou, Cokie Roberts, Alfre Woodard and more recently Diana Nyad, Viola Davis, and this year’s keynote Geena Davis. We like to think it is more than just coincidence or good talent scouting that, following her appearance at the Career Women luncheon, Diana Nyad, at 64, became the first person to swim from Cuba to Key West without a shark cage, literally willing her way there. Not to mention the extraordinary success and visibility Viola Davis is gaining with her new series How to Get Away with Murder. Sometimes we just have to “own the power” that is associated with our YWCA!

My message to women, and men alike, is that power is actually best when shared. Rather than diluting the effect, more for you does not translate to less for me. You actually wind up gaining additional power and the equal satisfaction that you have helped empower others.

Charlene Ventura is the president and CEO of the YWCA of Greater Cincinnati. Its mission is to empower women and promote racial justice. She has been the recipient of numerous local, state and national awards, including Women’s E-News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century; Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame; Cincinnati Regional Chamber’s Women’s Business Award Woman of the Year - Non-Profit and the Urban League’s Phenomenal Woman Award.