Speech: Ginger Hardage, 2016 Legacy Honoree

LINDA RUTHERFORD: Well, how do you sum up a career of serving others in just a few minutes? Ginger Hardage’s entire professional career in communication has been dedicated to giving others a voice, building a brand, and having a story to tell. From an insurance company to an oil and gas services firm, to the greatest airline on earth, Ginger worked to guide CEOs, employees, and external stakeholders through mergers, acquisitions, crises, tragedies, major corporate milestones, and management change.

Using carefully-chosen words to help convey meaning and purpose, insight pride, engagement, and understanding, she not only brought alive corporate narratives but helped the careers of those around her. And we benefited as she shared her knowledge and taught us what it meant to be a servant leader. Tonight, those who’ve benefited from her coaching, her mentorship, her care, and her love chose these words that paint the picture of who she is, and why she is extremely special to us, and why we’re recognizing her tonight.

Someone once asked me when I was gone, would I rather have someone say how smart I was, or how much fun I was? And I remember thinking, what a wicked choice that would have to be, to be one or the other.

Well, your honoree tonight is both, and so much more. Ginger Hardage was my leader, my boss, and my mentor for nearly 25 years. Ginger’s getting the award this evening, but the real winners in this life are those who have entered her sphere. If you’re part of Ginger’s six degrees of separation, you no doubt have a word or two that you would probably add to this mosaic.

It is truly an honor for those of us who are here tonight to offer our congratulations to Ginger Hardage, who is your Plank Center 2016 Milestones in Mentoring Legacy Award Winner. Please welcome Ginger.


GINGER HARDAGE: Linda and all of you, thank you so much. My relationship with Linda has been such a special one. And she’s put up with me for 25 years, so that means so much. And my goal is to be more like the person she described. So, thank you, Linda. And thank you to the board of The Plank Center for this wonderful honor, and to all the special friends– and you know who you are– that are in the audience tonight. So, thank you so much for being here.

And my first mentor, one of my first mentors in my life is here, and that’s my sister. So that’s very special.


And congratulations to the fellow honorees, Stuart, Joe, Aedhmar, and Jesse, congratulations. Thank you so much.

And to the students here tonight, if you didn’t find some mentors tonight, you weren’t working hard enough. There are so many great people in this room. And I saw Ron ushering many of you around to make sure you got to meet a lot of the wonderful professionals that are in the room tonight. So, my wish for you as that you would have many mentors throughout your career who inspire you to follow your heart, and to reach higher than you ever imagined, and to pay it forward by being a mentor to others.

Because our profession requires mentors. Because who else is going to understand the crazy things we do and all the things about our profession? We are sometimes the only people who understand exactly what all occurs in our lives. So, make sure you pay it forward and find the right kind of mentor.

And in closing, I want to leave you with two reasons for all of you in the room to take the time to be a trusted adviser and counselor. Number one, mentors get to share others’ dreams. And number two, it doesn’t get any better than seeing someone become more than they ever dreamed possible. So, thank you so much for this honor. Thank you.


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