Filmmaker and Founder of Dazzling Media, Donna Zaccaro, made a documentary about her mother’s life story, Geraldine Ferraro: Paving the Way. We had the chance to talk with Donna about the impact her mother’s life has on women today.
What inspired your mother’s political career?
My mother would say, “If you don’t use your success to help others, then what are you here for?”. Helping others was a driving motivation in all that she did throughout her life. I believe this is a life lesson no matter what you do. As you advance, always extend an arm back to those behind you.
How does your mother’s story apply to women today?
Most women today don’t see themselves making history–yet, we each need to forge our own paths, create our own successes, and often, that means doing things differently than they have been done before.
I never asked my mother how she had the confidence to run as the first woman on a major party ticket. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a question that occurred to me to ask. I guess I didn’t think to ask because I knew that it had never occurred to her that she couldn’t handle running for Vice President.
Where did your mother’s self confidence come from?
I think my mother would say that she never had the luxury of worrying about whether or not she could do whatever was asked of her. Her father died when she was a young child; her mother, brother and she were left without means, though with an understanding that education and hard work were the means by which their lots in life could be improved.
From an early age, she recognized that no one was going to give her anything; that she needed to take a leap in order to advance and achieve.
What was unique about your mother’s leadership that you admire?
She moved swiftly and effectively into any leadership role by: one, working tirelessly to do the best job she could for those that hired her – her constituents, and showed them real results to their specific concerns and problems quickly; two, she always respected and was able to get along with those with whom she had differences of opinion, thereby enabling her to forge compromises where others couldn’t or wouldn’t; and three, she enlisted mentors whose agendas she worked to promote and in turn, they helped her navigate her path to leadership.
What did you learn from your mother?
From her and from my own career experiences, I have realized that whether or not I feel ready or even fully qualified, I will get nowhere if I wait for other people to give me permission to do what I want to do.