My Minerva Moment



Since 2004, The Women’s Conference has honored extraordinary women with the annual Minerva Awards. These Remarkable Women & Remarkable Legacies have recognized a problem, identified the solution, and pursued it with strength, courage, perseverance and compassion.

Each one of us has experienced that moment when we first realized that we have the ability to make a difference and transform the life of someone we love, someone less fortunate or someone in need. That's your Minerva Moment!

So tell us –

When did you realize for the first time that you could make a difference? What was your Minerva Moment?  

Share your story in 200 words or less in the comments section below.


My Minerva Moment
  • When I was a young child, I frequently had recurring dreams of helping people who had disabilities. So I have known for a long time that my life’s calling was to help people with disabilities. I witnessed too many children being labeled as “bad” or “problems” by their parents or teachers. I have made it my life’s goal to help children feel empowered to take control over their own emotions and to be the best they could be. My Minerva moment happened several years ago when someone asked me to give a short training on behavioral interventions. I found out I was funny and people liked to listen to me. My trainings grew from 3 hours to 8 hours and I now do 220 trainings a year across the world helping adults work with children with behavioral challenges. I have a free website filled with resources for parents and teachers, I answer 250 emails a day for free on the topic of behaviors and I do a weekly radio show and have two social media websites. My goal in life is to pay it forward by helping adults LOVE working with children with behavioral challenges.

    Posted by docriffel, 14 May 2010.

  • My Minerva happened about 12 years ago when my daughter was running the hurdles in a middle school track meet. She tripped on her shoe string while running and feel on the wooden obstacle and broke her arm. She finished the race with her arm dangling by her side. My life mirrored her race as I was raising a family, working full time, going back to school, wrestling with cancer and dealing with adult bully. I told myself to keep moving forward and finish the race! My booked is titled Hurdles and will be out this summer.

    Posted by nancy woodson, 14 May 2010.

  • My Minerva moment in a letter sent to me by a life unknowingly changed:

    Dear Sally:
    As I began to reminisce one of my lowest and darkest moments of my life, the pain is less absorbent remembering the experience of our encounter mid January through April of 2007. Refusing to let the gravity of negativity keep me pinned against the floor, I prayed and asked God from the depth of my soul to help me and my daughter get through death of my marriage. I got married at the age of 17. I was married to a professional boxer. He was eight years older than I was and held the capacity of a dual role encompassing a father-like figure and husband. I hadn’t finished growing yet and at about the age of 29, I literally out grew the images he planned for me. He tried to stunt my growth with both verbal and physical abuse; paradoxically he had taught me to defend myself from even him. I would never physically fight him but I would fight to overcome phrases like “you will never be anything without me.” It created a drive within me, that won’t allow me to quit no matter what. One day, I got home from work and they had turned my lights off. My daughter had fell asleep during the drive home and usually when we pull up to the house, her eyes instantly opens as if an angel taps her to let her know we’re home. That day was different. She didn’t wake up. I went to unlock the door and returned to the car to the carry her into the house. I placed her in the bed and opened the window as wide as I could to let the breeze through and went to light a candle so I could see through the rest of the house. Everything was normal except for one thing. My vision board had fallen! I created it after watching a DVD called the Secret. I had three things on it, a picture of house I wanted in Baypoint, a picture out of a magazine of the skies, and check I had written to myself for $500,000. What do I do now? Where do I go from here? I took a clean sheet of paper and began to write “divorced mother needs extra income, can clean run errands, etc. Bay Point residents only.” The next day I got to work, typed it, printed a few copies, and mailed them out. I told my friend Rachelle what I had done and she said I’ll help you with “chicken wing” if you need me to. She called my daughter chicken wing because she loved to each chicken wings. A week later, I got a call. It was YOU! You left a message that you wanted to meet me because your help had had an emergency and you needed somebody in the interim. I let Rachelle listen to the message and we were both screaming. You set up the interview and I went to the house. My heart was panting as I approached the house. All sorts of thoughts started running through my head. Will she be old, cranky, and demanding? Will I be good enough for her? What should I say? What shouldn’t I say? The moment of truth happen, the door opened and I was greeted by two large beautiful golden retrievers and a tall, graceful, elegant, brown woman. The exact opposite of what I envisioned. Brown? I thought. Yes Brown, the voice answered in my head. As you began to talk, introduce yourself, ask me questions, and finally saying YES, start tomorrow, brown went out the window and characteristics such opportunistic, trusting, caring, and insightful, but also careful and wise replace the unknowing ones. After the first couple of days, I could tell that you knew I wasn’t extremely familiar to cooking and my expertise was not cleaning. But being the patient and humble person that you are, you began to train me, show me how you wanted things done and how to do things correctly in general. You taught me how to set the table, light the candles, and make certain recipes and still paid me well in spite of my flaws. I could appreciate God’s grace and his mercy being exhibited through you. You made me feel like more than just a maid or help; you brought home flowers and gave me some to share their beauty with my daughter and my house. I loved going to work for you. Cesar and Stan always made me happy, mostly Cesar because he would jump up tall when he saw me to let me know he was appreciative what I did for him and Stan. Stan was reluctantly to interact at first, but eventually he came around and occasionally gently brush along side of me to let me know I was O.K. Mr. Delacassa was so humorous, he would always compliment the food even though he knew you had a bigger hand in preparing it. The whole experience was my therapy to cope with everything, because God knew that I had given every inch of my time to making sure my home and my daughter were cared for and I didn’t have any space left to seek therapy for what I was dealing with. So he gave me you, when I needed you the most. I thank GOD for your existence, our encounter, and the entire experience. I would be remiss not to take this opportunity to express what you have done for me and my daughter; even down to this very computer you donated to us, that I’m using to type this letter.

    I Love you Sally


    P.S. Oh yeah, now I’m a Personal Banker at JPMorgan Chase and even though I know to treat every customer with respect, the respect you gave to me lets me hope that one day I make a difference in someone’s life the way you did mine.

    Posted by Sallyann, 14 May 2010.

  • How great would it be if we were all capable of not only having "Minerva Moments" to share, but we can share what it means to have a "Minerva Lifestyle". So I challenge you all who are writing about your "moments" to really think about not just having "sprinkles" of kindness, greatness, compassion....but consider living a life full of these "Minerva Moments". So many of us take on causes which we excel at but we fail in our day to day life to be loving to our children, kind to housekepeers, compassionate with our know where I am going with this. It is our interaction and relationships with others that allows us to live a "Minerva Lifestyle". Do you inspire every person you meet to be better in some way? Do you bring sunshine as you enter a room? As trivial as this may sound, it is these little acts that send out energy to others that they also deserve a "minerva lifestyle" and hey...before you know it, we are all "minervaing".....if such a "verb" even exist. And if it does not, well maybe it should since Minerva is a word of action so it should be a verb;-) Best of luck to all of you!

    Posted by Sallyann, 14 May 2010.

  • I have always felt I could make a difference because I was a middle school teacher and a business owner. In December 2009, my best friend and business partner was diagnosed with GBM brain cancer, and lost the feeling in her left side. So started our 18 month journey. We traveled this journey together for I never left her side. I watched her fight this disease and do everything they asked her to do to further the research to find an effective treatment for this horrible disease. Sitting in doctors' offices, radiation facilities and infusion rooms, I spent a lot of time looking in to faces that were desperately looking for hope. It was then that I knew, not that I could make a difference, but I HAD TO TRY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. GBM is a type of brain cancer with no hope...which is wrong. And the fact that brain cancer is the leading killer of children under the age of 20....which is wrong in every sense. I lost my best friend in June of '09 and have had a most difficult struggle...hour by hour...but I have established a foundation for brain cancer research in her name because I have to help make a difference. On May 29th, we have our first fund raiser...a race in a marathon, and I have 24 people running. We should raise about $15,000. Although not the big money that I am looking for, it is the beginning of what I hope will become something I can take to the national level. My next event is a golf tournament in August. It is my mission now to bring awareness to this horrible disease and raise money to fund the most promising research. I believe that every diagnosis should have hope. And now it is my job to help make that happen.

    Posted by uvmer10, 14 May 2010.

  • Sometimes the best Minerva moments are those told to you by people whose life you have touched. Please go to and read about one of my minerva moments. Another is my own food revolution I have started. Please see my link at I truly hope to attend your conference. Have been lovin Maria from afar for years;-)

    Posted by Sallyann, 14 May 2010.

  • I began working to increase anti-stalking legislation and stalking awareness after the murder of a close family friend in January 2007. Jodi Sanderholm was 19 years old, valedictorian of her high school, dance instructor, and a college student when on January 5, 2007 she disappeared in broad daylight. Within hours Arkansas City, KS police department had her murderer & rapist in custody. Unfortunately, it was too late for Jodi. Jodi's caring, intelligent and beautiful outlook on life exemplifies everything I hope my own daughter will grow up to become.
    The laws at the time did not protect Jodi so I successfully began lobbying for change. Since Jodi’s death Kansas legislators passed KS Senate Bill 414 (a.k.a. Jodi’s Law) in the 2008 session. New Mexico passed its version in 2009 with Senate Bill 212. The law change will come too late for Jodi, but it has come because of Jodi. After working for change on these laws I became a stalking victim as well. The stalking was so severe I was forced to give up everything I have worked for my adult life and move to another state. This is when my Minerva Moment happened. As I gave up everything it became clear to me what my purpose in life was…ensuring this does not happen again. I am now officially launching a non-profit called Jodi’s Voice to increase awareness surrounding stalking. While many friends and family felt like this should be my warning sign to stop my work I have felt compelled even more to continue! I will personally continue to change stalking legislation until all 50 states have strong laws and the charity will continue the awareness surrounding the crime via school programs, PSAs and grassroots outreach!

    Posted by jodisvoice, 14 May 2010.

  • During my senior year in high school I worked at the local library shelving books after school. Back then I wasn't a huge fan of libraries, only visiting my school library if my studies necessitated I do so. But, I earned good grades, needed a job, and the public library was close to home.
    I took an interest in the children's collection and the children who came in to wander around, sometimes looking at books or just talking, most times without adult supervision. I began checking the books out and poured through them at night, quickly working my way through the stacks. I found treasures! I quickly developed a wonderful rapport with the children. I would recommend books and we’d discuss our thoughts on them when they returned. The first discussion was my Minerva moment. Their library visits, my job, and all of our lives were now more meaningful.
    That moment led to a career of library work and service to children. I’ve worked in school and public libraries over 20 years and recently became the County Librarian for the Riverside County Library System – where that local library is one of 33 branches…the work continues!

    Posted by 4scribes, 14 May 2010.

  • I am a 20 year-old Angeleno living in the working class community of El Sereno.

    My activism began when I joined a local community organization whose mission was to advocate for social and educational social justice in the communities of East Los Angeles, Boyle Heights and El Sereno. During a community meeting there was a powerpoint presentation about the High School Dropout rates in my local high schools. It was shocking to see that schools in my community had a 50%+ dropout rate and event a less percentage where going to college. During my participation with (ICS) I was part of several education reform oriented campaigns to bring about positive change to our schools. In 2005, I was involved in the “A-G Campaign” to demand access to higher education. The “A-G” requirements are 15 courses required of students who wish to continue their education at a university level, but something many students did not even know about. In late fall of 2005, LAUSD Board of Education voted 6-1 in favor to support the measure. LAUSD was the first school district in the nation to adopt such historic measure in return making all students college bound beginning with the senior graduating class in 2012.

    After my community organizing activities, I decided to get even more involved in government. And I was blessed enough to be appointed to the Los Angeles City Youth Council by Councilman Jose Huizar there I advocated on behalf of young people in CD 14. Then I received another blessing when, Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa appointed me to the Commission for Children Youth & their Families becoming the youngest Commissioner in the City of Los Angeles. In this capacity, I have the opportunity to advise the Mayor and City Council about policy in regards to children, youth and their families.

    I continue to assist making my community a better place. Thank you for reading my story...

    Posted by Ari R., 14 May 2010.

  • Responsible for funding services to an 8 year-old girl and her mother, I was invited to a preparatory meeting for court by their Baltimore Social Services worker, during which mom’s legal parental rights would be terminated. Horrifically, that meant mom and daughter would never legally be allowed to have contact again for ten years!

    Upon arrival, I looked at mom and her daughter and noticed something very disturbing. Looking into their eyes I thought, “no one is home.” I wondered, “Where did they go?” Their souls weren’t there.

    In that, “My Minerva Moment”, I knew I couldn’t allow that lifelong destructive outcome to be decided. I asked permission to take the stand and advocated for and spoke on behalf of mom and daughter. I was determined to convince the Judge that terminating only mom’s legal rights but not visitation rights was appropriate for the wellness and best interests of that little girl. Termination of visitation would sabotage the aim of meeting her needs. I asked the Judge to order more services, not less, and rule for supervised visitation and family counseling so their souls could return home to their hearts and eyes.

    Judge ruled in favor!

    Posted by Jacke L. Schroeder, 14 May 2010.