As we recognize the end of Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate the achievements of our leaders. Our managing partners, Houda Elyazgi, Jennifer Monies and Sara Walker, are all remarkable women who have each made significant contributions to the Saxum team and the communities where they work and live. We asked them some questions so you could get to know them a bit better. Here’s what they had to say:
- What women have impacted your life?
Houda Elyazgi: So many women have had a profound impact on my life and so many continue to. I’m especially moved and inspired by women who are movers and shakers and who have stood up for causes and issues that make a difference in the world. Women like Cristi Hegranes who founded Global Press building independent news bureaus staffed by local women reporters in some of the world’s least-covered places.
Jennifer Monies: The women I look up to the most are ones who have done their best to master work life balance without sacrificing one for the other. I can be a mom who works and still kick ass at my job. This isn’t about having it all, it is about prioritizing what is most important in that moment in time, and focusing all your efforts toward that thing. Tomorrow, the priority will likely change, and so will your focus. Being agile is critical and I have seen many women, including my mom, do this well who have served as role models to me.
Sara Walker: I am thankful to have worked alongside so many strong female leaders, many of which have been my colleagues over the years at Saxum. Additionally, I was really inspired when my mom left her “safe” career to start her own business, a business which has been successful for over 20 years now.
- Tell us about your involvement in your local community.
Houda: I serve on several community boards and enjoy giving back to the community any way that I can. I am on the Board of Trustees for the Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum where we work to honor those who were killed, those who survived and those lives changed forever on April 19, 1995. I am a Board Member & Secretary for Global Press, an international nonprofit working to transform international news standards and practices by building representative newsrooms that put local women journalists at the forefront. I also serve on the Friends of the Oklahoma History Center Board of Directors where we work to help preserve and tell Oklahoma’s history – the state where I was born and raised.
Jennifer: I have long been involved in improving education in Oklahoma. From my previous seat on the Oklahoma State School Board, to starting and running an education nonprofit, giving every student access to a quality education drives my community involvement. I now serve as the chair of the board of John Rex Charter School in downtown OKC, where both my kids attend school. I am also the chair of the board of Every Kid Counts Oklahoma, an education nonprofit that seeks to get parents, teachers and business leaders a stronger voice in education.
Sara: I have served on the board for the Edmond Public Schools Foundation for the last six years and have played roles from Governance Chair to President. I am passionate about our mission of connecting the community to advance excellence and enrich student opportunities through Edmond Public Schools. We’ve been able to impact the school district by providing classroom support through DonorsChoose, mental health and student support, art in schools, professional development, etc.
- What’s one piece of advice you’d give to younger women just joining the workforce?
Houda: Know your values and stick to them. I personally have always approached my work with a lens of gratitude but with a confident assurance that I belong at the table and contribute in meaningful ways. Understand your boundaries and check yourself before someone else does. Never stop learning or challenging yourself and embrace environments that nurture your personal and professional growth. You are your biggest advocate!
Jennifer: Speak up. Your voice matters, and you can only be heard if you are willing to put yourself out there. Don’t wait for permission.
Sara: Make sure you understand what fulfills you and then set boundaries and priorities so that you can spend time doing those things. Maybe you’re fulfilled through work, but it might also be through volunteering, a hobby or how you spend time with family and friends.
From the office and the board room to their neighborhoods and homes, our managing partners are strong women making a real difference. Here’s to celebrating all of the women who impact our lives and make our communities great. May we always empower and support them!