by Jessica Taylor
From protecting individuals for the improvement of the community to successful businesses, the women of South Louisiana are an example of the impact empowered women can have in our community.
“Women in South Louisiana are powerful because they don’t limit themselves,” says Laura Valenti, professor of marketing at Nicholls State University.
Empowered women throughout the world are challenging the status quo. In South Louisiana too, women have proven to bring a different type of “hard work” to the table.
As a working mom who is also finishing her doctoral degree and teaching four classes full-time, Valenti’s own experience shows how women are capable of facing the struggles and balancing all aspects of a busy schedule.
“Moving around the country while I was growing up allowed me to see different parts of the United States, as well as how acted,” Valenti says. “[In Louisiana] I’ve seen more women in law enforcement, owning businesses, and all while being moms.”
Besides teaching, there are many other women in the community who share a similar type of power — police officers.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), nationally there are nearly 4,000 state police, 19,400 sheriffs’, and 53,300 local police who are women. Of all the federal law enforcement nationally with sworn officers, the Office of Inspectors General had the largest percent of female officers (25%).
Women are still a minority group among law enforcement. Across the 24 parishes in south Louisiana however, there are approximately 461 women who are police officers.
Throughout the community, there are many women that hold a tremendous amount of power.
Lieutenant Kim Lane, the Supervisor-Police Support Services, is another woman who has a strong impact in the community. She began her career in law enforcement at Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office in 1988.
“In 1999 I was hired by Lafourche Parish Fire District #3, where I worked as a dispatcher for the fire department, Lafourche Ambulance District #1 and Greater Lafourche Port Commission Harbor Office,” she says.
That same year she transferred to the Thibodaux Police Department. After working in the communications department for a little over a year, she became a patrol officer.
Now she is assigned to patrol as a shift commander with the rank of a lieutenant and is the first woman to hold this position.
Lane explains how the women of South Louisiana are free to be who they want to be and are openly accepted. Lane says her dreams of holding such a high position wouldn’t have been possible if the women of South Louisiana did not have this mindset.
“Lieutenant is a big deal in our department. There are many other high-ranking females in our departments, but I’m the highest-ranked woman in our department, which is a huge accomplishment,” Lane says.
She says throughout her department females are required to do the same thing as males and everyone is treated equally.
“We have to do the same physical challenges as well as tests,” she says.
Lane is also a bodybuilder, which she says helped her excel in the police academy, as well as in her department.
Many women in south Louisiana own businesses, placing them in an ultimate position of power.
Charlet Brignac, owner of Three Stitches Embroidery, is one of many women who own their own businesses. Brignac started out in the medical field working in radiology, but felt that career path was too demanding for what she wanted to accomplish in life.
“When I do something, I do it 100%. I didn’t feel that was being accomplished working in the medical field,” she says.
After that realization, Brignac opened Three Stitches Embroidery. The company has become a larger part of the community and is partnered with many organizations including the Nicholls Softball Team, as well as other athletic teams around the area.
Whether it’s protecting the community, owning businesses, or being a working mom, Bayou women hold some powerful positions. So “Look at this” and learn a little bit more about the powerful women who have impacted our community in so many ways.