We’re reflecting on the women we know and look up to, who have inspired and empowered us to thrive and sharing their stories and advice

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the women who have inspired and empowered them to realize their potential. Which of these role models inspires you?

Our moms

“My mother showed me that women can be both hard and soft. Professional and feminine. Boss and mom. Wife and friend. Mom worked full-time in a high-pressure career my entire life. She moved to night-shift for a while when I called the daycare lady, ‘Momma.’ She took a career step back to care for family needs for a spell. She uncovered a gross salary gap against her male counterparts’ pay. When she retired, the company replaced her single role with three employees. I thank my mother, and all the other women like her, who paved a more equitable career road for all of us as we continue this journey.”

—Donna Peters, senior partner consulting, faculty, coach, Atlanta, GA

Our childhood teachers

“My kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Larsen, took me aside very early in the school year, and had me tested. The results showed I was reading and writing more than one grade level above others my age.  She created a separate reading curriculum for me. Thirty five years later, my best selling book, ‘A Widow’s Guide to Healing’ was picked up by an agent and published.”

—Kristin Meekhof, author and book consultant, Royal Oak, MI

Our favorite authors 

“The main person who inspired me to reach my full potential was the author Louise Hay. Her loving, kind words and advice really helped me and inspired me to be the best I can be and to also help others along the way. I actually cried when I knew she had died and truly wish I had known her when I was younger and struggling with life. I also greatly admire Arianna, who inspires me to keep growing and working each day with purpose towards my goals.”

—Sharon Kennewell, holistic health and wellness coach, UK

Our aunts 

“My Aunt Rachel, who died at 93, was a resourceful woman who brought up her three siblings from the age of 12, and then taught herself to become a dressmaker for the stars, and then a painter, and then up until she was 90, taught art. She taught me how to see, not just look. She taught me grace under pressure and she taught me that anyone can reach up for the stars. She lives on in her paintings on the walls of her doctor’s office, her young and old friends, and many of my friends around the world who love her work. There’s also the stained glass window she created for the seniors home she lived in. Plus her voice in my ear and the promise I made her to always look and give beyond the obvious.”

—Georgina Cannon author, regression therapist, Toronto, Canada

Our professional mentors

“Dr. Leona Lobell was a friend, mentor, and ‘mom’ in my life. She started as an official mentor, coming into my life in my first trimester of my first pregnancy, before I had told many people outside of my family for fear of repercussions in a male-dominated industry. She was articulate, intelligent, and she took me under her wing.  Leona made me feel respected as a peer yet nurtured as a daughter. I still often hear her voice in my head. Whether she was offering professional advice from her vast experiences or personal insights from her life, Leona’s wisdom became foundational in my growth as a woman and as a professional. Sadly, Leona’s husband called me one month ago to tell me she had died in January. I had promised myself that I’d visit her after the pandemic settled down, but that never happened. I wish we had one more time together, one more of her all-encompassing embraces, and I try to focus on the incredible impact she had on me.”

—Dr. Robin Buckley, executive and couples coach, Rye, NH

Our sisters 

“Eight years ago, my sister was diagnosed with a rare disease. At the time, I paused my life, left my family, and ran to save her. Three months later, my sister had a plan, but I was left feeling miserable, depressed and alone. I didn’t have the energy to support my young son, my relationship with my husband was shaky, and my business was left in limbo. I realized we are all given roles to play as soon as we are born. In my family, I was regarded as the doer, while my sister was regarded as the person who was helpless and weak. This is never the case. We are all born equal with unlimited capabilities. Through realizing all this, I managed for the first time in my life to have an honest, open and true relationship with my sister for the last two years of her life. Now, a day doesn’t go by without thinking of her. She is behind my big ‘why’ and the reason that I have dedicated my life to helping entrepreneurs all around the world.”

—Lia Zorzou, UK

Our coaches

“The woman who inspired me first was my speech and debate coach in high school, Mrs. Post. One day, when I was criticized by a classmate, she said to me, ‘Still waters run deep!’ They did. I learned to speak in front of a group. I went on to the debate team my second and third year of high school.  I still ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’, and I appreciate every time she was encouraging, uplifting, expected the best of me and told me I would be successful in the world!  She was a gem of a woman, my speech teacher and debate coach.”

—Jan Belton, higher education administrator, Greenville, SC

Our lifelong friends

“I’m inspired by my dear friend, Alison Brod. I met Alison 11 years ago when I was at a pivotal crossroads in my career. I will never forget asking Alison’s professional advice regarding starting my own company and her unequivocal response and affirmation. Alison not only inspired me with her own professional success, but her ability to juggle business, family and a social life. She supported me right from the onset and I will forever be grateful. I will never forget my first placement for her and wanting to extend a discounted rate which she would not accept. This again exemplifies Alison’s incredible generosity and honorable work ethic as a business woman. Fast forward almost ten years later Alison is still a client and dear friend. She continues to impress and inspire me on every level. She is a true role model for women and I feel honored to know her.”

—Ariel Schur, LCSW and CEO,  New York, NY

Our career motivators

“At 28 years old, my mother was the chief chemist of one of the biggest sugar refineries in the Philippines. She knows the periodic table of elements by heart, solves organic chemistry redox reactions and multiplies 4 digits by 4 digits in her mind — things I was never able to do. She wanted to be a physician and a scientist but her world was very much different from the world we live in now. She had kids and became a housewife because that was what women then were expected to do and options for women like her were few to non-existent. She made my siblings and I love science and understand the value of education. Unfortunately, I did not turn out to be as smart as her but her sacrifice inspired me to pursue her dream for her.”

—Melvin Sanicas, physician-scientist, Zurich, Switzerland

Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how  you can keep Thriving.

Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.


  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.