Former New Jersey governor visits Berry

Jessie Goodson, Campus Carrier News Editor

On Jan. 25, the Berry Center for Integrity and Leadership hosted former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman who spoke about leadership and integrity. 

Whitman served as the 50th governor of New Jersey as well as the first women to serve the position from 1994 to 2001. Whitman is the president of Whitman Strategy Group, a consulting firm that specializes in energy and environmental issues. She served in the cabinet of President George W. Bush as Administer of the Environmental Protection Agency. 

Whitman is the author of “It’s My Party Too,” a New York Times best seller about her political experience as a republican moderate. She also received the 2017 Eisenhower Medal for Leadership and Service. Her lecture at Berry was titled “Women, Leadership, Power and Politics: Overcoming Obstacles.”

Whitman opened her talk by discussing the recent events in the White House and how strong leadership is so important in today’s political climate.

“The need for leadership and integrity has never been more important than it is today,” Whitman said.

She compared good leadership to pornography, saying “you can’t describe it, you can’t define it, but you know it when you see it.”

Whitman said that the pairing of leadership and integrity together is more important than either on its own. She said that to her, the meaning of leadership and integrity has always been offering a vision that honestly describes the problems to be addressed and treating the people you want to lead with respect. 

“To me, leadership without integrity isn’t leadership at all,” Whitman said. “It’s exploitation if you don’t have that integrity.” 

Whitman said that education was a fundamental building block of leadership. Being educated and understanding issues and how to break them down is a crucial part of being a leader. 

“Leaders are driven by passion that sustains their inspiration and sustains their willingness to do what it takes to be a leader,” Whitman said.

While working her way up to being governor, Whitman said that sharing her goals with the people she would serve was important to her. She said a large challenge that she faced was convincing people that she cared about them and their state. 

“Leadership and integrity is about being honest about your goals and honest about how you want to go about achieving them,” Whitman said. 

Her goal as governor was to make New Jersey “the best place in which to live, and work and raise a family.”

Whitman said that to seek diversity and making it available is serving to integrity and to our nation’s fundamental being.

“All men and women are created equal, and deserve equal opportunities, and that’s what leadership is about,” Whitman said.

She advised that there will always be someone that is better, and everyone’s job is to find them and learn everything they can from them.

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