Every Friday Vision 2020 highlights news about our National Delegates. This week we report on Elaine Pace, who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. Earlier this month, Pace was soaking up the sun and getting down to business in Maui, Hawaii, at the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO) Girls Only Leadership Retreat. Pace was selected as co-champion of this innovative empowerment retreat along with her stepdaughter Molly, who is 17.
Also this month, Pace, who formerly served as chief executive officer of Girl Scouts of Utah, was selected as president of the Sanoviv Medical Institute, a health and wellness center that blends state-of-the-art medicine with a holistic approach to healing.
Vision 2020 caught up with Pace to ask her a few questions about her recent accomplishments and her strong belief in the power of women to implement change.
Vision 2020: What drew you to YPO? How did you become involved with the organization?
Elaine Pace: Serving as a president/CEO can be isolating. Five years ago, I asked my board of directors for advice on finding a peer networking group and one of the members suggested YPO. Since joining, I have served on our YPO Utah Chapter Board and volunteered internationally with the Social Enterprise Network encouraging philanthropy and volunteering. I am a member of the Women’s International Network (WIN) in YPO. Women make up less than 10 percent of the overall 17,000+ YPO membership.
Vision 2020: Did you have a particular focus/theme in mind as you were designing the retreat?
EP: The retreat is designed as a girls’ self-esteem event. When YPO asked me to chair it, I agreed with two conditions: One, my 17-year-old stepdaughter, Molly, could serve as co-chair, and two, a service project would be included in the agenda. YPO agreed to both requests. Molly is the first under-18 co-chair of a YPO International event – we both hope this will open the door for others.
Vision 2020: What is your advice to Molly and other young women who hope to follow in your footsteps?
EP: Look in the mirror and focus on the parts of you that shine and draw strength from the knowledge that you have unique gifts that this world needs. Know that in every situation you have choices and trust the hands that are held out to help you. Give to the world through service and let the results lift you up to encourage others to do the same.
Vision 2020: The YPO retreat brings together teenagers from all over the world. Would you say there is a common thread that ties all of these young women together? If so, what is it?
EP: The girls — whether they are from the Czech Republic, Australia or Minnesota — struggle with finding their place in the world while learning and maintaining their identity. They are each unique individuals pressured every day to be like others in a group.
Vision 2020: You have extensive experience with girls-only programming. What would you say are the benefits of this model?
EP: Girls-only programming gives the girls time to think, learn and enjoy without the added pressure and distraction of a co-ed group. I believe “girl time” is important for all of us — and especially so for girls who are developing their personalities, bodies and values. Research shows that single gender education can dramatically improve learning and test performance.
Vision 2020: You have invested a great deal of time and energy into building young women leaders. What is your hope for the future women leaders of our country? What are the obstacles that young women face and how do you think they can overcome them?
EP: I strongly believe that women’s voices must be raised alongside those of men’s in our communities, classrooms and coalitions throughout the world. Women have unique skills and viewpoints that are often absent or buried in group decision-making because we are often not present in the numbers necessary to impact the outcome. I am working to change that in my lifetime and in Molly’s by speaking out to encourage women and men to open the doors for female candidates in every area — government, employment, volunteer positions and more. It is a tragedy that so many people believe that women have every opportunity to lead but choose not to accept the challenge. Young women face expectations that they must be perfect in every way before they step forward to lead. The few females portrayed in leadership positions in films and television are beautiful and smart and funny and centered and beloved and set a standard so high that few of our girls believe they will ever reach it.
Vision 2020: You were recently selected as president of Sanoviv Medical Institute. How does it feel to stand out as a woman leader in a male-dominated field?
EP: After traveling to Sanoviv several times as a guest, I was thrilled to be asked to lead this healing retreat. In the USA, approximately 23 percent of hospital administrators are female; worldwide, it is less than 10 percent. The business of running a licensed, accredited hospital and spa is both cerebral and emotional — it is an honor for me to bring my uniquely female experiences and skills to the care-giving field.
Vision 2020: What drew you to Vision 2020?
EP: I could feel my heart beat faster when I read the information about Vision 2020. A forum of women committed to action, convened by a respected university, including members from all 50 states holds synergy for success. Whether or not I was selected as a delegate, I promised myself that I would support this work as it unfolded. I am thrilled to be part of the conversation, the action and the outcomes that will impact all of us — and especially the opportunity to open even more doors for Molly, her peers and the girls who will follow her.