women who lead palm springs life

A Teachable Moment

The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on everyone, but this trio of outstanding Women Who Lead honorees have found a silver lining to put into play now.

JIM POWERS Current Digital, Social Scene

women who lead palm springs life
The Women Who Lead honorees — Kelly Steward, Jill Golden, and Lili Rodriguez — share their thoughts on the pandemic and leadership challenges now available on the Palm Springs Life YouTube page.

While we may be uncertain what the other side of the coronavirus pandemic is going to look like, how companies and non-profits use this time now to re-examine their identity will create a stronger foundation in 2021. That was one of several assertions made during the Women Who Lead Virtual Event, a Palm Springs Life online discussion featuring three outstanding Coachella Valley women who were being recognized for their leadership both in business and life. They include:

• Rising Star honoree: Lili Rodriguez, artistic director of the Palm Springs International Film Festival

• Business Leader: Kelly Steward, general manager of The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage

• Nonprofit Leader: Jill Golden, board member of Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital.

While negativity has surrounded the pandemic, Golden believes it’s important to see it as a gift.

“And we have to really see it in that light,” says Golden. “This is an opportunity for organizations to really examine who they are, where they're going, what do they want to be? And that same question has to be asked of each and every employee, and even your vendors, the relationships are changing. In so many ways we're going back to the old models of doing things. We're talking to our neighbors more. We're connecting with family.”

• READ NEXT: Learn the Backgrounds of Each of the Honorees.

Steward, who has worked for the Ritz-Carlton family for more than 19 years, agreed it’s important to set the tone for your employees and be authentic in your leadership style.

“We are going to be positive and we will get through this by being transparent and having that communication and giving them that leadership style,” Steward says. “Being honest and transparent is so important to our ladies and gentlemen. And I'm telling you, yes, I have been nervous and you know what, that's OK.”

The pandemic has created restraints in modifying our behaviors in and out of the workplace, but it’s also created insights that can be used going forward.

“I'm asking myself those soul searching questions,” Rodriguez says. “What type of leader do I want to be? I'm also obviously asking myself, when are we going to be out of this? How many more months? But I've been asking myself, and maybe all you ladies would agree, but I tend to be very focused on my job and my job takes over a lot of my life. And I'm asking myself what I can do outside of my job to help my community as well. I'm feeling inspired by everything that's going on. So I'm really looking into what else can I be doing right now, outside of my job. It's exciting.”

Steward notes what can sometimes get lost in the shuffle of being the leader is taking time for yourself.

“Exercising, eating right, recalibrating. In this crazy hospitality business, it's a lot of wining and dining,” Steward says. “And so, it’s about recalibrating and resetting yourself. I'm a genuine giver all the time. But I also have realized through this entire experience that I have to also take care of myself so I can continue to take care of others.”

Women Who Lead Virtual Event was presented by SBEMP Attorneys, and sponsored by Blanke Schein Wealth Management - A Hightower Company, and The Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage. Valerie Powers Smith of SBEMP Atorneys moderated the discussion.

The event benefited Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. To donate, visit lulu.org/giving.

VIDEO: View the Women Who Lead Virtual Event. moderated by Valerie Powers Smith and featuring Jill Golden, Kelly Steward, and Lili Rodriguez.