10 Aug Member Spotlight: Mary Giddens
I grew up on a farm in rural Georgia. After graduating college and teaching school for a couple of years, I moved to Florida to pursue my new love of scuba diving. My career path has been full of variety: school teacher, gas station attendant (pre self-service), social worker, grant writer, supervisor, lifeguard, division director of transportation service, real estate sales, real estate acquisitions for FDOT rights of way, and cattle ranch owner and manager. All of these “jobs” developed various duties, skills and aptitude but nothing to compare with the lessons learned and friendships made through my BPW membership.
I joined BPW in the early 70s when a local BPW was meeting to start a community rape crisis center, an interest of mine as a result of my social work experience. Friends of mine were BPW members and invited me to the meetings and, later, to join the Pionette Club of Lakeland. Back then, members were voted into membership. All members voted secretly by putting a marble in a box, a white marble to accept the prospective member or a black marble to reject. A few years after I joined BPW, I found myself representing Florida as its Young Career Woman at the BPW/USA Convention in Denver in 1976. Many of you know as well as I, that special tendency of BPW, to put you right to work. I served in some capacity on the BPW/FL board of directors every year from 1976 through my presidency of BPW/FL in 1989-90. My BPW path has been full of variety: young career woman chair, state legislation chair, lobbied before Florida Legislature, marched on Tallahassee for ERA, made many speeches, led workshops, installed many BPW officers, wrote magazine articles, chaired several special task force groups, served on BPW/USA PAC, marched on Tallahassee to protect a woman’s right to choose, was a founding member of BPW/FL PAC, and met many state and national elected officials and celebrities.
Since retiring from my professional life, I enjoy phenomenons of nature, traveling, and road trips to visit family and friends. I currently serve BPW/FL as parliamentarian.