Committee for Children Blog

A Real-World Superwoman: Cars, Confidence, and the Competition of Life

This March, Committee for Children is celebrating Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day with a series of reflections from our Executive Leadership Team on their career journeys, the women who’ve shaped them along the way, and how they’re working to break biases. This post is from VP of Marketing and Client Relations Regi Dennis.

Some of my most vivid memories as a kid are of riding down the highway and feeling immense pride seeing these large, shiny Tahoe and Suburban SUVs. It wasn’t because my family particularly cared about cars, but the highway was one place we were able to see my mom’s work in motion. My mom was one of a small group of women at General Motors who worked in the auto body shop at a time when women working in manual labor was rarely seen. For more than 30 years, throughout rain, shine, and sickness, my mom broke barriers by showing up to that factory and putting her heart and soul into that job while juggling the rest of her responsibilities as a wife and mother. She was fierce, she was independent, she was superwoman, and I still believe that to this day.

I was fortunate to grow up in a family with strong bonds and a unique dynamic devoid of gender biases and stereotypes. My dad worked during the day at Chrysler, and my mom worked nights, but she never neglected her roles as a wife, mother, and mentor to other women in our community. She may have missed a sports game here or a presentation there, but every night we had food on the table. I could feel her strength. Whether I was struggling to make the basketball team or grappling with standing out as the only Black kid in class, she used to say, “Regi, you can’t quit, no matter what. Life isn’t fair, but if you quit today you’ll always quit when it’s hard.” Her life lessons were about perseverance and the importance of celebrating how different you are, because that’s what makes you so special. In my youth I was shy and timid, but as I grew into the person I am today, I understood that my mom planted seeds of hidden confidence many, many years ago.

There’s a deep well of life lessons from my mom that I still draw from, but one of the most important is the conversation any Black parent or caregiver must have with their child about how to navigate this world. My mom has always been confident in her own skin and instead of talking about race as the great divide, she reinforced the importance of perseverance and taking pride in what makes me different. She knew I would be a large man, larger than life like my dad, so she said, “Be conscious of how you treat others, be approachable, be respectful, but keep smiling and treating people right.” So many kids I knew from my neighborhood felt angry and lost, but my mom taught me that I didn’t need to follow that crowd. I could break the bias, walk my own path, do what’s right, and build connections with everyone regardless of race or gender. I knew it was possible because I saw her do it every day as a strong Black woman.

Our family mantra was faith, hustle, passion, and perseverance, and it’s those principles that fuel how I live my life and raise my family today. Pay what you owe and control what you can. I vowed that if I were to marry I would never let my significant other sacrifice her career path. There are so many values, attributes, and strengths my wife has that have helped me navigate areas like corporate workplaces with professionalism and wisdom I didn’t know I had. As my mom said, “You don’t need to be out front to be a leader.” We’re in a competition of life against ourselves. I want people to learn from me, be better than me, and know that you can make a profound impact whether you’re driving the car or building it.