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WOI Q&A: Patty Stonesifer

Former Gates Foundation CEO Patty Stonesifer, one of the Storm's 2012 Women of Inspiration, talks about what being honored by the Storm means to her, inspirations in her life and more.

What does it mean to you to be named a Woman of Inspiration?
I think back on all the women who have inspired me and take great pride in the idea that the Storm leadership believes I have and may be able to do more of the same for others.

What motivates/drives you to be your best?
I was raised to believe we all have a shared responsibility. Yes, we must take care of ourselves and our families, but also we can use the days we have been given to help create a better world. No matter what we do for a living, no matter what place we live, we have a chance every day to live out this belief in shared responsibility.

Patty Stonesifer

Who has inspired or does inspire you?
I am inspired by so many people who move through life tending not just to their own needs but who joyfully and with determination also dedicate themselves to this idea of shared responsibility. When I was younger I took my inspiration from those right in my home - my mother, my father, my older siblings - who all shared this idea that we needed to work together to ensure a better world. As I began to get older I found inspiration all around me - in the great French teacher, in the comparative religion teacher, in the journalism professor, my peers in college who were pursuing their dreams and their academics with such passion. Eventually, as I moved into the workplace that lens for inspiration grew even wider to business leaders who managed with a blend of strength and humanity like Mike Maples at Microsoft, to social and political leaders like Nelson Mandela who modeled - like no one else of our era - how personal determination combined with vision, passion and a huge dose of humanity could move a nation so fraught with mistrust to one of the most successful stories of great injustice overcome.

The truth is I am inspired every day, from the young people I meet who grew up in challenging circumstances but who are determined to improve not just their lives but the lives of their entire community to the political leaders of today who are willing to look hard at what this country needs and act upon it in the face of great opposition. Recently, the Supreme Court voted to uphold the Health Care Act, guaranteeing millions more Americans have access to life saving health care - the Supreme Court members who voted to uphold that act have inspired me today.

What role do you think the Storm organization and players play in making a positive difference?
Women have long been seen as offering the unique strength as family and society caretakers - a good and important role. But the strength the Storm and others in the WNBA show us on and off the court - that you can be a woman, a caretaker and also be physically and mentally agile and strong - is a great example for all women and, yes, all men whether you are 5 years old or (like me) 55 years old!

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