Women's History Month Reflections from NCDPS Female Leadership

Several women standing in conference room
Monday, March 18, 2019 - 9:44am

Since 1995, US presidents have proclaimed March as “Women’s History Month.” However, the month-long recognition of female accomplishments throughout history began the previous decade, when Congress requested the president proclaim the week of March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, after being petitioned by the National Women's History Project, Congress changed the designation to become a month-long one.

Governor Roy Cooper proclaimed March 2019 as Women's History Month throughout North Carolina. NC Department of Public Safety celebrates its diverse employee base and would like to recognize females across the department. With more than 9,000 female employees, NCDPS has women serving in state prisons, court services, highway patrol, community corrections and many other essential departments vital to public safety. 

Secretary Erik Hooks recognized that many female employees also serve in managerial roles, stating, "I am extremely proud to serve with the number of remarkable women in leadership at the Department of Public Safety. Their accomplished work records, experiences, perspectives and insight are vital to our public safety mission."

This is what several NCDPS female leaders said Women's History Month means to them. 

“In reflecting on Women’s History Month, it is difficult for me focus on any one person who has influenced me professionally. There are so many women and men who have had an impact on my career historically and many who make an impression on me daily… too many to name. I do feel compelled to say something about my mother. It was her brave fight in battling cancer and her incredibly strong work ethic that continues to influence me as a person today. My mother had a very calm and easy going personality. She was kind and caring. She often worked two jobs, was always dependable and very rarely complained even during her long battle with cancer. She taught me to treat others, regardless of gender, color of skin or socio-economic status, as you would want to be treated yourself. While she did not hold high level positions in her career, the way she approached life, she stood on top of the world as far as I was concerned.”
– Pam Walker, DPS Director of Communications


“It's easy to begin by acknowledging the fierce women who came before us and stood up to injustice or broke a barrier: Shirley Chisholm, Geraldine Ferraro, Maya Angelou, Sally Ride.  Their sacrifices allowed us to seek our own paths. However, justice is not a destination. It's a journey, and it is vital that we remember to celebrate the acts of courage, solidarity and audacity that continue every day: Tarana Burke, Rachel Denhollander, the US Women’s Soccer Team. Godspeed to all who continue the fight.”
– Caroline Valand, Executive Director of the Governor's Crime Commission


“As a former prosecutor in the Civil Rights Division at USDOJ, I was in awe of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, and I still am. As a young lawyer, Justice Ginsberg exercised steadfast courage, hard work and pure grit to blaze a trail of equality for women on so many important fronts. I wanted to be like RBG! I feel honored and blessed to now serve NCDPS in a leadership role with so many amazing women, as well as accomplished and supportive men.”
– Pam Cashwell, Chief Deputy Secretary of Professional Standards, Policy and Planning


“During this month when we honor the contributions of women, I reflect on the words of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who said, ‘Women belong in all places where decisions are being made ... It shouldn't be that women are the exception.’ I am grateful to the men and women in my life who have fully embraced that truth, and I am honored to have had opportunities to serve in leadership roles at various times in my career. This Women’s History Month … and every month, I proudly celebrate each woman who has dedicated her life and work to giving women a seat at the table.”
– Casandra Hoekstra, Chief Deputy Secretary, Administration


“Women’s History Month recognizes the contributions all women make in the workforce on a daily basis. It serves as a reminder of the challenges women face as they raise families and rise to meet the challenges in the workplace. Continue to support one another as we are all on this journey together.”
– Major D. R. Carter, NC State Highway Patrol Support Operations


“Education was extremely important to my mother. She worked hard in school and even received a scholarship to attend graduate school. After marrying, she continued to work hard to support my dad while he attended undergraduate and graduate school. My mother continued to work throughout her life and constantly reminded, encouraged and expected her four children to get a good education. She realized, and taught her children, that a good education is the foundation for building a better future. I will have honored my mother’s legacy if I teach, encourage and expect my own children to get a good education.”
– Jane Gilchrist, NCDPS General Counsel