Last month’s edition of BC Social Work’s annual Pinderhughes Diversity Lecture stayed true to this year’s Diversity theme of Powerful Women, as longtime Boston media personality Pam Cross delivered keynote remarks. Cross, who spent 35 years at WCVB as a reporter and anchorwoman and now heads her own strategic advising business with BC Social Work’s own Ron Ancrum, spoke on “What Phenomenal Women Know.”
Cross began her talk by asking the packed Shea Room at BC’s Conte Forum, “what would a phenomenal life look like?” before going on to tell the life story of a remarkable woman she got to know during her work as a journalist. Cross spoke about Isaura Mendes, a mother who has lost two sons to violence and yet has earned the moniker Mother Mendes in the prison that houses the murderer of her eldest Bobby. Not only has Isaura forgiven Nardo Lopes, but she has devoted her life to improving his life, and the lives of other men who are locked down, by teaching and mentoring inmates at various correctional facilities across New England.
Cross then asked her audience to reflect on what Mendes’ story might mean for them. “We don’t have such tragic circumstances, most of us,” she said. “But we have issues. We’ve all got something. What happens when you get a difficult or devastating medical diagnosis? Your career is not growing the way you want it? Your partner wants a time out? You’ve got an unruly child. What do you do? The answer is not easy. It’s similar though to what Isaura Mendes does. You look at the problem. You think about your options. You choose one.”
When faced with these options, continued Cross, “you take the leap of faith to try one, and if it doesn’t work you try again. That’s the only way to find the phenomenal life. Intentional living.”
Cross finished her lecture by defining intentional living, paraphrasing the words of the incomparable Maya Angelou, and her poem, Phenomenal Woman: