Georgia Women of Achievement hosts ceremony in Macon

Georgia Women of Achievement hosts ceremony in Macon

jmink@macon.comMarch 13, 2014 

When Teya Ryan reflects on her accomplishments, she thinks of one word: gumption.

As president and executive director of Georgia Public Broadcasting, there were moments when Ryan did not take “no” for an answer. She sometimes had to make difficult changes and learned lessons the hard way.

“There were series of moments when I hung in there,” she said, “like so many of you have.”

Ryan spoke Thursday during the annual Georgia Women of Achievement induction ceremony at Wesleyan College, where three late women were honored for their own gumption.

The ceremony paid tribute to “the power of women and the power of their stories,” Wesleyan President Ruth Knox said. “Those stories ... deserve to be shared again and again.”

On Thursday, an audience packed Porter Auditorium to hear the stories of Rebecca Stiles Taylor, Ella Gertrude Clanton Thomas and Bazoline Estelle Usher.

Taylor, who died in 1958, organized and served as president of the Savannah chapter of the National Association of Colored Women and the Southeastern Region National Association of Colored Women.

Thomas, who died in 1907, has been celebrated for her rare, extensive journal of the Civil War era, as well as her volunteer work during the war.

Usher, who died at the age of 106 in 1992, was Atlanta’s first supervisor of black schools and was known for constantly fighting to get resources for African-American students.

“They remind us of what vision, leadership and sense of responsibility can accomplish,” Knox said.

The three also are a testament to what a little nerve can accomplish. Ryan remembers deciding she wanted to work for a particular network. She repeatedly called the employer, even after he initially rejected her. Years later, Ryan fought nerves when she was asked to take a top job at CNN.

Later, she made one of the toughest decisions of her career: She took four years off to take care of her young daughter. Ryan remembers assigning reporters to cover the war in Iraq one day and chatting with mothers about toilet training the next day.

Ryan was quick to say she was not advocating for mothers to leave the workplace, but it was the right decision for her at the time and ended up helping her career. The experience enhanced qualities, such as compassion and management skills, that are integral to her current job, she said.

“If you’re willing to open yourself to change,” Ryan said, “then you will indeed move forward.”

To contact writer Jenna Mink, call 744-4331.

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