What My Mother Taught Me

Organizations & People


Daughters share how their mothers influenced them to be the successful workers they are today.


The bond between mothers and daughters is like nothing else. It’s a special connection forged by love, understanding, and respect. Mothers are caregivers by nature and teachers by trade. They know how to pick up the pieces when disaster strikes and how to mend wounds, both literal and unseen. 

Behind so many successful women are the mothers who inspired and encouraged them every step of the way. That’s certainly the case for these women, who share – in their own words – what they’ve learned from their mothers and how they apply that knowledge to their personal and professional lives.  

Photography by Rich Smith / Shot on Location at Church on Main

Teresa Dinger and her mother

Teresa Dinger

Siskin Hospital, Vice President of Patient Access & Marketing

Mother: Donna Calbough, Owner of Donna’s Goodie Baskets 

My mother has always been and will always be my biggest inspiration. She is one of the most selfless and giving people I know, and for her, family is everything. At a young age, she instilled in me a strong faith and the importance of praying for God’s direction in my life. Her unconditional love and support have always made me feel that anything is possible. She ingrained in me that anything worth doing is worth doing well – doing something halfway is simply not an option. Half-hearted work does not breed creativity, and my mother is one of the most creative people I know. As a child, she would throw special holiday and themed parties for my friends and me, well before there was Pinterest or Hobby Lobby. She came up with it all on her own, and the invitations and favors were all handmade. Following her lead, I have loved doing the same things for my children, especially with her by my side. Another critical lesson that she has passed down to me, and one I have passed down to my own daughter, is that no matter what life throws your way, never underestimate the power of a cute pair of shoes and lipstick to make you feel better. 

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Destiny Richardson and her mother

Destiny Richardson

City of Chattanooga, Capital Projects Coordinator

Mother: Carolyn Lawhorn, Retired Nurse, Public Health Program Director, & Educator

My mother’s sacrifice and her big heart mean everything to me. She is my inspiration and my biggest cheerleader. She has always persevered and never let her circumstances hold her back in any way. She is a first-generation college graduate and a retired nurse and educator. But she wasn’t just a nurse by profession – she was the family and community nurse, too. I watched her visit the sick and elderly and reach back to aspiring nurses, providing support and resources to help them along the way. She set the stage for me to become the next college graduate in our family, receiving both bachelor’s and master’s degrees just as she did. I didn’t enter the medical field, but I still have the same love for people. I have always served the public in some capacity, from banking to city government. The desire to help people is my passion, and her caring heart influences me to serve. My mother shows me that our lives and our successes are not just about us. They are for others. I encourage my children to follow their dreams as she did for me. I also take time for other young people, to give wisdom and guidance on their journey, as I have seen her do so many times. The best advice my mother ever gave me was to serve others and never give up. Paying it forward has been a way of life for her, and the ripple effect changes the world. No matter what obstacles come your way, stay the course and never give up. As a public servant and mother myself, I’m grateful for everything my mom has taught me, and I will pass these gems down along the way. Perseverance and service are values of a great legacy!

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Ronelle Sellers and her mother

Ronelle Sellers

CHI Memorial Market Director, Marketing Communications

Mother: Flavia Fleming, Retired High School Business Teacher & Church Pianist

My mother and I have spent countless hours over the years in conversation, but I have learned the most from her actions. For as long as I can remember, I watched her give of herself to others – by sending cards of encouragement, calling to check on those going through a rough time, serving faithfully as the church pianist for 60 years, and teaching Sunday School. She has always started her day praying for those on her prayer list and reading her Bible. It gives me great peace to know she is constantly praying for me. She taught me to always give my very best and instilled in me the belief that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. My first lessons in business were from her. She was the Future Business Leaders of America sponsor at my high school, and I watched her work with countless companies to help her business students land great jobs. Her best advice is to give every situation to God, and only buy on sale! Any success I have achieved, you can be sure it was because I had an incredible mom picking me up each time I fell, dusting me off, and boosting my confidence so I could go back out to face the next challenge.

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Alison Goldstein Lebovitz and her mother

Alison Goldstein Lebovitz

Motivational Speaker, TV Host, Author, & Podcaster

Mother: Arlene Goldstein, Retired Fashion Director  

My mom spent 35 years in the fashion industry, serving as everything from Fashion Director to Vice President of Fashion Direction and Trend Merchandising for Parisian, Saks, and Belk, before retiring in 2015. And while she is still the ultimate fashionista, she has always taught my siblings and me that true grace, style, and beauty are more than skin deep. If you’ve met my mom, you understand where I (hopefully) inherited my poise, personality, and penchant for public speaking. She has never met a stranger who didn’t become a fast friend, and she is kind, considerate, and cool in equal measure. She is both my fashion guru and most influential female role model and consistently shows me what to wear and how to act by her example. I have lost count of the number of times friends have asked, “What does your mother think?” Her opinion matters to the people around her, because she makes the people around her feel like they matter. While shoulder pads may come and go, and hemlines tend to rise and fall, my mother’s support is a constant in my life. Fashion may be fleeting, but Arlene Goldstein is timeless.

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Shawanna Kendrick and her mother

Photo by Emily Pérez Long

Shawanna Kendrick

Founder & Owner, The H20 Life, LLC

Mother: Charlean H. Kendrick, Retired Educator 

To some, she’s Mrs. Kendrick, the retired-yet-still-firm elementary school teacher and one of the first African-American teachers to integrate East Lake Elementary School. To others, she is a wife, the oldest of nine siblings, a friend, and so much more. To me, however, she’s “Mom” or “Ma!” depending on what’s going on in my life. She is and always has been my rock – my loving, caring, and God-fearing example of womanhood. Because of her, I know how to be strong and independent, but also kind and gentle. I’ve learned how to stay the course, laugh, cry, question, and most importantly, persevere. She displayed these traits as she meticulously taught my sister and me the things only mothers can teach: how to handle difficult situations with style and grace, how to position yourself for future success, and how to take care of your own well-being. 

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