The Women's Foundation Honors Memphians Who are Making a Difference
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Kathy Buckman Gibson stands on a legacy of entrepreneurship, philanthropy and dedication to Memphis. As Chairman of the Board at Buckman Laboratories International, Inc., Kathy succeeds her father, Robert Buckman, as head of the company that her grandfather, Stanley J. Buckman, created in 1945. Following in the footsteps of one of Memphis’ most well-known philanthropists — her grandmother, Mertie Buckman — Kathy has given her time and attention to improving education and the local economy, as well as the arts. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Women’s Foundation for a Greater Memphis, the very organization her grandmother started in 1995. Kathy is involved in almost every aspect of the community, serving as co-chair of the Memphis Talent Dividend: College Attainment Initiative, and on the boards of the Tennessee College Access and Success Network, the National Civil Rights Museum, and the national board of Girls, Inc., where she was recently elected treasurer.
What or who motivates you?
“My grandmother [Women’s Foundation founder Mertie Buckman] had a vision of what could be done with a collection of diverse women with a common commitment, not with other’s resources but with their own. Pooling those resources together collectively. Anyone who ever had a doubt of what a group of women can do, just needs to look around this city these days.”
What’s your greatest challenge?
“I never imagined that I would one day meet a man who had all the key qualities that I was seeking in a life partner, at age 40. And it just so happened that he was African American. I had to deeply explore what I knew were my natural biases as a white female growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, before I could really think about having a long-term relationship with that individual. But if I hadn’t encountered those challenges, I wouldn’t be where we are today.”
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
“I strive every day to see the opportunities within the challenges, whether in my personal life or the work environment, and then there are always the unexpected challenges associated with every opportunity. Ones that often require a great deal of creativity and hard work to bring them to fruition.”
What’s your proudest moment/greatest reward?
“At the age of 48, I never dreamed it would be possible to be a first-time mother. And as we went through that process of trying to have children, I had to address the various challenges. Now we have two beautiful girls. Also, this award is deeply personal because it represents the culmination of a vision my grandmother had so many years ago. To receive this, and know that she’s smiling above means a tremendous amount.”
What’s the best advice you ever received?
“My grandmother was very powerful, and yet very graceful. I often think of what Grandmother would do in any situation, and I strive to seek out the opportunities that I know she would look for that come with every challenge.”