Mary Lou Bessette

Honored by:Jeanine Bessette
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Mary Lou Bessette

On her desk my mother keeps a quote by Walt Disney that says "If you can dream it, you can do it."

This one sentence that inspires her reflects much of what I have learned from my mom. She certainly has done all that she has dreamed, even while teaching those of us around her to do the same. For what she has achieved and what she has given to others, Mary Lou Bessette is being honored in the Carrie Chapman Catt Plaza of Heroines.

Mary Lou's many roles in life include daughter, spouse, mother, business woman, community leader, volunteer, journalist, and role model. Throughout her life she has worked hard to accomplish her own goals and to give back to her community.

She learned these values while growing up. Her father, Louis Rippa, was a shoe repairman and salesman and had a strong influence on her. A believer in working hard, he kept his store open long hours to meet the needs of his community. My mother also gleaned from him the importance of caring for those around you. My mom learned well from the example set by my grandfather, and provided that same example while raising me. I watched my mother work hard both at her career and at pursuing an education.

As a young woman, I learned from my mom that women can do and be whatever they set their sights on. She taught me that if you work hard and are involved in activities that you believe in, you will be successful at what you do. In addition, she helped me understand that risk-taking is part of life, that it's important to be true to your word, and that caring about others is essential to improving our communities.

Mary Lou is also a business woman and a community leader. She works tirelessly in her career and for the causes in which she believes. She is a mentor and role model for many people in Phoenix (where she has lived for 14 years) and around the country. With a clear vision of her dreams, she recently left the Phoenix newspapers to start her own business. Talk about risk taking!

Mary Lou presently gives of her time and energy to many organizations that help women achieve their goals. As president of Arizona Women's Education and Employment, she helps women realize that their dreams are attainable and gives them the tools and knowledge to make those dreams a reality. In addition, she chairs the Arizona delegation to the 1995 White House Conference on Small Business. She is the 1995 chairperson of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce's board of directors, and president-elect of the Phoenix chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners. She is also on the national board of directors of the ATHENA Foundation, and in August will be part of the Foundation's delegation to the World Congress on Women in Beijing, China.

To achieve her career and community goals, Mary Lou has never sacrificed the importance of her family. She is a wonderful spouse and mother. She values the time she spends with Jim, her husband, finding time together to plant flowers, travel, and play with Minnie (an adorable little weiner dog).

She has been a remarkable mother to me, her only child, and to the terrific daschunds who grew up with me! All in all I don't believe that I would be the woman I am today without her role modeling and teaching me that "If you can dream it, you can do it!"