On Receiving the Visionary Award From Women Leading Kentucky, May 2019

I never thought of myself as a visionary.  I just had a lot of dreams.  Dreams of leaving the coal camps in WV.  Dreams of going to college, going to New York, running my own business, being my own boss, getting away from home.  I just pursued those dreams.  My grandmother told me I could do anything I put my mind to – if I worked hard — and I believed her and followed her advice.  This is not to say I’ve achieved all my dreams.  I haven’t.  Some of them changed over time and became less important. Some, I had no control over no matter how hard I tried.  But I had enough dreams to fill a lifetime.  And along the way, I learned a few things.

  • If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.
  • Failure is overrated. It’s actually an opportunity to learn something new.  Get up; figure it out; try again.
  • Do your best and take the high road, no matter how tempted you are to get even. Believe me, there have been times I’ve had to bite my lips and cross my fingers and my legs!  It’s the right thing to do and you’ll feel better about yourself.
  • Don’t burn bridges. Walk away if you need to, but don’t try to bring down everything and everyone with you.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. Make friends with people who appreciate and support you and who will tell you the truth as they see it.
  • Always, always look for possibilities, opportunities.
  • Ask for help when you need it. It does take a village to get through some difficult times.  It’s okay to say, “I don’t understand this” or “I can’t do this alone.”
  • Stand up for yourself. Learn and accept who you are.
  • You can accomplish anything if you don’t care who gets the credit.

I am so proud of Women Leading Kentucky, the many board members, the staff and volunteers, and all the people who have touched each other’s lives through this organization.  Starting Women Leading Kentucky, along with others, ensuring that it was inclusive and supportive and offered opportunities for women has made me stronger.  I hope it’s making you stronger too.

Thank you for this Award.

Janet Steele Holloway

Founder, Women Leading Kentucky


Janet Holloway is an author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. After sixteen years in small business development as State Director of both the New Jersey and Kentucky Small Business Development Center Networks, she decided it was time to start her own enterprise. This was the beginning of Women Leading Kentucky, a non-profit that fosters leadership opportunities for women and scholarships for women attending KY colleges/universities.

Janet is an active member of the boards of Athens West Theater and The Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning. In addition to publishing many articles, she has released two memoirs: A Willful Child, and Leaving … Sometimes You Have to Leave.

Janet received her B.A. from Marshall University, an MSW from the State University of New York at Stony Brook, and is ABD from Columbia University. She lives in Lexington KY with her rescued Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Sadie.


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