During March, the Salt Lake Chamber is highlighting influential women in Utah. By sharing their stories and advice, we hope to bring awareness to the importance of Women’s History Month.
Nubia Peña is passionate about Women’s History Month and the chance to remember and honor the women who came before her. We asked Nubia about the meaning behind this month, the women who inspire her and how she defines success.
- What does Women’s History Month mean to you?
One of my favorite aspects of this month is learning about the women in history who were trailblazers for change and broke down barriers to our rights. It is humbling when I consider their sacrifices that made it possible for someone like me to walk through doors historically closed. It also reminds me that we have a responsibility to them to keep moving the work forward.
We need to continue dreaming of and working toward a world where women and girls are able to fully thrive and be free – where girls across the globe can access, without fear, quality education in safe schools and communities, and where they are paid equally and treated fairly for their economic contribution. Where they are able to influence policies and practices that impact their lives and where they are free of sexual assault, harassment, domestic violence and being repeatedly exploited through human trafficking.
A quote I read in Women’s Voices, Women’s Votes, Women’s Rights beautifully sums it up: “As we acknowledge and celebrate women’s struggles and victories as a result of their activism, we must simultaneously continue to take up the mantle for change, to obtain, maintain and expand human rights for the next generation.”
- Who is a woman in your life who has served as a mentor or guide?
I am incredibly blessed because I have been well loved and championed by women in my life who inspire me to do more, to be better, to love fiercely, to be loyal, to hold my head high in moments of adversity and to give myself grace when I stumble. First of all, my beautiful mother and twin sister have been my unconditional advocates. They have circled me in prayer and never hesitated to extend comfort and encouragement to see me through dark seasons. I also acknowledge that my mother inspired my work ethic. She raised four strong daughters and early on taught me what it meant to work hard, sacrifice and strive toward excellence. She is a breast cancer survivor and an exceptional reminder of resilience, generosity, selflessness, and unwavering faith. She continually influences my path to keep growing in all areas of my life, believing that I have something meaningful to contribute to the world.
In the community, I have also cultivated an extended family, a group of sisters who are exceptional change agents in their own right. These women are vastly different on paper, ranging professionally from educators, CEOs, executive leaders, legislators, directors, faith and frontline advocates, and high-ranking officials. While incredibly diverse in their backgrounds, what they share in common is their ability and willingness to invest in the development of women and girls, seeing value not in the competition of each other but in the success and well being of us all. The list of women who have blessed my life with their support and guidance is precious and long. I wish that every woman not only had this type of sister circle for themselves but also actively served as that safe space for other women. I have learned that we can do so much more together and building community with women is healing.
- What does success mean to you? Share your path to success and the challenges you’ve overcome to get there.
Success is beautifully complex because it depends on the context and the situation but for me it is about the process. As women, we oftentimes expect and demand perfection in the things that we do, which can lead to feeling inadequate when we fail. If we learn to count the milestones and count the sweet moments of joy when a step towards our mission is completed, then success and failure can be wrapped up in grace.
I also measure the level of success by asking: Did it stretch me? Did I grow emotionally, spiritually, professionally because of this? Did I learn something new about myself? Will I be better for it? Will others? Did my efforts make my mom, my community, my God proud? Did I love and show compassion to myself through the mistakes?
For example, I learned so much about my capacity to push past internalized doubt and my fear of failure, as well as an overwhelming sense of imposter syndrome during law school, which was deeply transformative. I had to learn how to quiet the noise that would often rise up attempting to rob me of my peace, making me feel like I should quit, pack up, and go home, or worse, that I didn’t belong. During those three years, I leaned into the healing and grounding power of prayer, and the critical need to reframe who and what I anchored my identity and self worth in. My faith and the people that consistently spoke life over me helped me understand that the most meaningful outcomes, the greatest successes, usually come after moments of greatest struggle. I am forever grateful for the times in my life that challenged me, that felt like they would never end because they eventually did and that taught me a valuable lesson that I apply when striving towards goals that are riddled with difficulties. I now pause, breathe, pray, push past the valley by remembering my purpose and calling, plan on how to move ahead and count each of those moments as a win.
*Stay updated on more stories, events and information on Women’s History Month by visiting the Salt Lake Chamber’s Women’s History Month website and engaging in our weekly challenges.