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Empowering Women to Build Success

Michael Saunders of Michael Saunders & Company Shares How Overcoming Challenges Pave the Path to Reaching Goals

Women from diverse professional backgrounds came together to inspire and empower one another for an event hosted by the Venice Area Chamber of Commerce. Michael Saunders, Michael Saunders & Company Founder and CEO, was featured as one of the keynote speakers of “Women Empowering Women.”

Never give up on your dreams. Persistence pays off. These words that ring true in our everyday lives resonated through conversations and panel discussions. Approximately 100 attendees heard personal stories of overcoming challenges to reach success as a woman leader.

"Women said, ‘Yes we can,’ and we have done it in spite of challenges,” Saunders emphasized.

Experiencing potential roadblocks to her goals, she shared how rejection did not stop her from paving her own path to her future. After college, excited about reaching the interview phase for a law school fellowship, a harsh reality soon surfaced. Saunders learned she was only invited for this opportunity because her first name was believed to be that of a male. The outcome— she was turned down because the male-dominated board only gave the fellowships to men.

Another disappointment came when she was denied a $5,000 loan to start her own business. The reason for the denial— her gender.

“You are in a community that has been over the years a petri dish for women,” Saunders said.

Despite the financing challenge, in 1976, she opened Michael Saunders & Company on St. Armands Circle, now serving Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties. Saunders highlighted women pioneers like Mable Ringling, Emma E. Booker and Marie Selby, whose legacy lives on for future generations with their positive impact on the Gulf Coast.

Having deep local roots, Saunders credited her family for giving her a strong support system. She also stressed the importance of women leaders offering support to each other and harnessing their strengths to “nurture the future of this community.” Saunders also emphasized the importance of values including integrity, excellence and communication in order to meet professional goals.

The sold out event was held on Friday, September 17 at the Venetian River Club in North Venice.