Founder/CEO, The Institute for Economic Empowerment of Women
I would like to dedicate this monthly blog to my beloved husband, Earl, who just passed away after 39 years of marriage. You see, IEEW would not exist without him. Besides being my soulmate, a wonderful husband, and a devoted father and grandfather, he was a supporter of women’s rights and a champion of the power of women long before this became in vogue. In fact, you could probably have called Earl a bonified feminist.
Earl was successful in his own right, as an accountant and author of western novels. Earl was also a pilot and avid traveler. But, it wasn’t enough for him to be versatile and successful in his own work and hobbies. He also wanted me to be successful in my own right. He was my biggest fan and for that I will be forever grateful.
When I launched Terry Neese Personnel Services back in 1975, he was my financial advisor and my constant supporter and confidante. When the building that housed my company tragically burned to the ground, Earl helped me rebuild my business one painstaking step at a time. When I became the first woman to become nominated for lieutenant governor of Oklahoma in 1990, Earl traveled with me throughout the state. He encountered some residents in the state, men and women, who would recoil from his hand when he handed out campaign literature and they would say “no way will I vote for a woman!” Earl became so angry that the campaign staff suggested we get him off the campaign trail because they thought he was a PR disaster waiting to happen. This is the main reason Earl remained a staunch supporter of the power of women in politics, in business, and in all forms of position of leadership.
When I launched IEEW 6 years ago, it was Earl who gave me the courage to take on this challenging responsibility and venture into new territory in Afghanistan and Rwanda to work with women business owners. I didn’t think I could do it. But today, nearly 250 graduates of our PEACE THROUGH BUSINESS® program later, we are going strong and hope to be expanding our mission to other developing nations.
As a testament to the character and hard work of my husband, the Earl Neese Scholarship Fund, established just two weeks ago, already boasts more than $7,000. We hope to see this fund grow and develop and help us do so much more at IEEW. The money will be used, among other things, to help pay for our 2013 class of women business owners from Afghanistan and Rwanda to travel to the United States next summer. During that time, they will have their three weeks of leadership and business training, mentoring, annual International Women’s Economic Summit, and graduation from the program.
I am who I am because of Earl, and IEEW is a reality because of who he was. I think Earl believed in me more than I even believed in myself. And, by doing that, he was making a statement to the power of women – everywhere. And, that is a legacy to be most proud of.
If you wish to donate to the EARL N. NEESE Scholarship Fund, please follow this link: