ImageI got a surprise email that my dear friend Nora from Cairo, Egypt, was coming through town and would love to see us, even briefly.

So last night we met for church and a quick dinner after. Nora and I became friends two years ago through the George W. Bush Presidential Center Women’s Initiative. I was assigned as her mentor for a year-long program that paired corporate U.S. women with high-potential women chosen by the Bush team.

Nora amazes me. Like even last night after long flights from Cairo through London to NYC, she hurried to her hotel downtown and then took a cab uptown to meet us. She was tired but determined, qualities that have made her a true success, time and again.

Nora’s husband died suddenly at age 40 leaving her with a printing business she knew nothing about, and two teenage sons to raise alone. She rose up, learned the business, turned it into even more of a profitable enterprise, got chosen for the Bush Initiative, and recently was awarded a $25,000 grant as one of only two women chosen for the “Global Women Leaders Award” by FORTUNE magazine’s 50 Most Powerful Women Summit, an event happening this week in D.C.

Nora’s grant will allow her to build a brand new training program in Cairo, helping gov’t taught college women learn skills that increase their emotional intelligence and position them for distinct advantages in the marketplace.

I’ve watched Nora grow in confidence and guts over the last two years, soaring to new success because of her unrelenting determination, focus, and reliance on God to help her win favor and divinely appointed open doors.

As I looked into her travel-weary eyes that sparkled last night, I marveled at my friend who keeps rising to new heights because she simply doesn’t wait for permission or for someone to hand her a golden ticket. She goes aggressively after what she wants, keeps family first, prays and journals often, and has one of the most teachable hearts I know.

I love my friend and am so so proud of all she represents. May we all follow Nora’s lead and refuse to let up or let go on the path to living our dreams.


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