Woman Wednesday: Jody Dilday
For this week’s Woman Wednesday, AY About You sits down with Jody Dilday, Vice President of Northwest Operations for the Arkansas Community Foundation.
Dilday grew up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and moved to Fayetteville when she was a senior in high school. She attended the University of Arkansas and earned her degree in social work, something she had aspired to since her family adopted her baby brother when she was 4 years old. Dilday loves to cook and to entertain (especially on the back deck her husband built).
“I love to read and discuss books and life with The Dangling Shoes Book Club. And I describe myself as a chronic volunteer,” she says.
Dilday currently serves on the board of directors for the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, the Arkansas Women’s Hall of Fame, and is a past president and current board member of Northside Fayetteville Rotary Club, and the current board chair of Beer and Hymns.
What does it mean to you to be a woman?
Honestly, I give so little conscious thought to what it means to me to be a woman. It’s like asking “what does it mean to you to be right-handed?” I don’t know, I just am. I’m much more concerned with what it means for my daughters to be women in this era. On one hand, I’m glad that gender norms are evolving, and women can choose to get married or not, have children or not, pursue any career or not, hold public office or not. Yet at the same time, I perceive that the progress women have made in terms of equal rights, equal pay, agency over their own body, etc., are all in jeopardy. As I answer this question, it occurs to me that being a woman is a life-long juxtaposition. It is being simultaneously strong and tender, maintaining healthy boundaries while cultivating community, being independent even within a marriage or partnership. As the old saying goes, “Fred Astaire was great, but Ginger Rogers did everything he did … backward and in heels!”
What challenges have you faced as a woman in your field?
The majority of my career has been in nonprofit social services and philanthropy — fields predominantly made up of women. The challenges I’ve faced have less to do with my field, as they do with the day-in and day-out struggle of juggling work and parenting responsibilities. For example, finding suitable childcare on those one-off days when the public schools have an in-service day, or making carpool and childcare arrangements to accommodate an overnight business trip. As an empty nester now, I no longer have those challenges. But I see my older friends and co-workers struggling with similar issues as they support their aging parents, so I know I’ll face those challenges again in the not-so-distant future. I have always felt fortunate to work in a helping profession. The donors I work with, and the nonprofit organizations they support, are working to provide solutions and support for issues just like this. From the Early Childhood Champions Fund at Arkansas Community Foundation, which is investing grant dollars to make quality early childhood care and education more affordable and accessible, to Head Start and pre-k programs that are extending their hours to accommodate working parents. I see women are driving the solutions to the challenges we face.
What advice do you have for young women and girls who might read this article?
A couple of things. One, remember that “comparison is the thief of joy,” which is a quote often attributed to Theodore Roosevelt. This is true especially in the age of social media, where everyone has an Instagram account and is busily curating their life in search of likes. Don’t look at their timeline or feed and think “they have it all” and you don’t. They’re posting a highlight reel. You really have no idea what kind of mess (or pain) is cropped out of the frame. Surround yourself with the kinds of friends who are their genuine selves with you and allow you to be your authentic self as well. The second is a quote from Howard Thurman: “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” We spend an awful lot of time at work, so find something that you love, and go do that.
READ MORE: Woman Wednesday: Presley Turner