Issue no. 1 - 2014 Governor Community Connection
Governor Spotlight: Encouraging Success Through Leadership
Mary Fox believes that leadership is born from the right combination of drive, encouragement and potential. This philosophy has powered her business and strengthened her connection to Opportunity International’s work.
Mary started her business, Tenacity Solutions, in Virginia, 10 years ago with her husband Leo. From a humble beginning in their house, they have turned their idea into a thriving enterprise: the company now has more than 120 employees. She credits much of that success to the way their business develops leaders.
“Since the beginning, we have always felt that, in order to be able to grow, you’ve got to bring up that next generation of leaders,” Mary explained. “The culture of our company is very important to us, and we’ve definitely brought people up through the ranks.”
This February, her business is starting a new leadership training program that focuses on the company’s inclusive, collaborative culture. It’s centered on Mary’s leadership philosophy of “try something and, if it doesn’t work, try something else.”
“If somebody [an employee] has a really great idea, we’re more than happy to say ‘go try that’,” she said.
That spirit of giving people a real chance to prove themselves is something else that connects Mary to Opportunity International.
She first learned about the organization at a fundraiser given by a close family friend. Mary had recently read the book Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, which opened her eyes to the cycle of poverty so many women in developing countries face – as well as the ways women like her could come to their assistance. Since then, she and Leo have taken their commitment to an even higher level as Governors.
“I think the leadership skills that Opportunity is developing – there’s half the world out there that hasn’t had the opportunity to show what good leaders women can be,” she said. “People should never be afraid to raise up more and more leaders. There’s so much potential out there that’s untapped.”
“Sometimes it really doesn’t take very much to make a huge difference,” she continued. “The model just works, and as a businessperson, it’s something I can feel good about asking people to give money to.”