The rise of two black women to the highest levels of the Aflac corporation is the subject of a column published in USA Today.
Teresa White, president of Aflac U.S., and Audrey Tillman, the company’s executive vice president and general counsel, were both featured in the Feb. 23 column written by Larry Copeland, a native of Harris County now working for the national newspaper.
As the first blacks and women to hold their positions, White and Tillman were described as role models for black girls, who often become disillusioned in their pursuit of success.
“A Girl Scout Research Institute survey found that more young black girls aspire to be leaders than girls from any other group — 53 percent, compared with 50 percent of Hispanics and 34 percent of whites,” Copeland wrote. “Yet, by the time they reached high school, just 11 percent of black girls were still nursing those dreams.”
Copeland pointed out that the two women come from different backgrounds - White raised in Dallas by a hard-working single mother who did everything in her power to prevent her daughters from becoming statistics; Tillman “the product of a bedrock family from southwest Atlanta” where both parents had degrees.
Yet, the two woman have a lot in common, Copeland wrote in the column.
“Each was raised by a village,” he wrote. “They credit grandparents and other relatives, neighbors, church ladies and educators. And they each grew up with a clear understanding of what was expected.”
In the column, White and Tillman offered advice for success.
"... Along the way, you will have people who will tell you your dreams are too big,” said White, according to the article. “The key to it is staying focused. If you stay focused, you will get there."
Tillman was quoted as saying: "... If you surround yourself with people who are doing similar things, it's likely that you'll do positive things. ... You want to be around people who have a similar definition of success as yours."