Lunch with Nancy Pelosi
Every now and then, long-time service in Ottawa throws a happy privilege one's way, and today was one of those occasions.
Julie Jacobson, wife of the U.S. ambassador to Canada, threw a rather amazing lunch for women in Ottawa to meet Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Have to say, it was a little humbling to be around that table. Laureen Harper, the Prime Minister's wife was there, as was Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose. Among the other attendees were Roseann Runte, president of Carleton University; Suzanne Fortier, president of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council; noted author and historian Charlotte Gray, France Chretien-Desmarais and former Ontario minister Mary Anne Chambers. Congressman Ed Markey, travelling with Pelosi on this trip, was the only man at the table. The three journalists present were Jane Taber of the Globe, Kady O'Malley of CBC, and yours truly.
Pelosi didn't discuss her talks with premiers on the oil sands last night and this morning. Instead, while we dined on blackened chicken and then a sinful chocolate dessert, everyone at the table was asked to give a brief biography and/or projects that concerned them and/or women. Pelosi, at the end of the recitations, told a few stories of her own -- how on her first meeting at the White House in December, 2002, as part of the Democratic leadership, she felt "crowded in her chair," aware of all the women who had gone before her and fought to make a place for women in politics. (The story's in her book too, on page 124, in case anyone's looking it up.) Pelosi also joked about how her daughter saw her as a pioneer, not because of her high political titles, but because she was a trail blazer for giving up cooking for the family when she got too busy.
Most of the discussion revolved around lessons these women had learned from the front lines of juggling personal and professional life. I'm sorry I have no trade secrets to share with you here. Mainly, it was just about jumping in there and doing it.