Always good at math and science, Nicole Price earned a degree in chemical engineering and spent a decade building a successful career in the field. But her personality was pointing her in a different direction. Now a sought-after leadership coach, consultant and speaker, she transformed her professional life and, through her company, Lively Paradox, helps others do the same thing.
Find your passion and purpose, what you’re good at, how you shine, and go for it, Price told a room of more than 200 at today’s Women’s Leadership Colloquium @UMW, held at the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford campus. “Don’t imagine any limitations that don’t exist.”
Now in its 25th year, the colloquium fosters the connectivity of professional women and inspires them toward a lifetime of leadership. The annual event is packed with seminars, breakout sessions, networking opportunities and a panel presentation from regional entrepreneurs. It attracts managers, administrators, educators, business owners and representatives from the public and private sectors. This year’s event was themed “The Empowered Woman.”
Martha Hutzel, director of Central Rappahannock Regional Library, was awarded the Patricia Lacey Metzger Distinguished Achievement Award, presented each year at the colloquium. The honor goes to a woman who has distinguished herself as a leader in her field, demonstrated personal and professional integrity, and shown commitment to community service and lifelong learning.
The award committee voted unanimously for Hutzel, said Martha O’Keefe, dean of Workforce and Development for Germanna Community College. “She is passionately committed to making the Fredericksburg region a better place.” O’Keefe, who herself won the award in 2012, praised Hutzel for her expertise in leadership, advocacy, community relations and management, and said she “provides strong and visionary leadership in her profession.”
Hutzel is a graduate of the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Fredericksburg, former member of the Chamber’s Network of Enterprising Women Steering Committee and an active member of the Chamber board. She recently was recognized with the Chamber’s Laurie A. Wideman Enterprising Woman’s Award. She also is a member of the Rappahannock Rotary Club and serves on the Rappahannock Goodwill Industries Board of Directors.
And, clearly, Hutzel is a staunch supporter of libraries.
“I believe the public library in America today is the most valuable community resource,” O’Keefe quoted her as saying, “because it is available to all, regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race, educational level or any other factor.”
In her acceptance speech, Hutzel added: “The library is the cornerstone of a democratic society” and said that your library card is the most important card in your pocket.
Like Hutzel, all women can be leaders, Price said in her keynote address, in which she emphasized the value of characteristics commonly associated with women, such as empathy and compassion. “If people have those two things,” she said, “you will see amazing outcomes.”
Price, who wrote Lively Paradox: An Authentic Perspective on Issues of Diversity and Inclusion and co-authored The Power of Seven-Second Chances, launched her company, Lively Paradox, in 2016 to help people become better leaders. In her profession, she said, she spends a disproportionate amount of time working with men. That’s something she’d like to change.
“My goal is that we won’t be having this conversation 20 years from now,” she said. “If you’re in the role you are supposed to be in, uniquely qualified to be in … we can change some of these persistent challenges that we’ve had.”