Being the sixth of eight children, Sandy Murphy found her voice early. She honed her sharp wit going toe to toe with her four brothers, learned to argue with conviction debating her father, and inherited resolve from her mother and sisters who broke boundaries before her.
Now a highly accomplished attorney and businesswoman, Sandy is incredulous at being selected as one of this year's Women of Achievement--but not in a false-modesty way, more like it just never occurred to her that hard-driving ambition, fearless advocacy, and a lifelong demand for equity are anything outstanding. But if you know Sandy at all, you know that "outstanding" is as much in her DNA as her brilliant red hair.
When Sandy was five years old, her mother, pregnant with number eight, announced to the family that she was going back to college to finish her degree and work. This decision sparked an evolution of Sandy's traditional Irish Catholic family. Sandy and her siblings witnessed their father's resistance, followed by his openness and complete support of their mother. His growth reflected his love for his family and value of education above all challenges, which Sandy internalized. Rather than feeling a void of attention, Sandy recalls her parents' devotion and never questioned their commitment to the family--a feeling that informed her own decision to work while raising children. Sandy watched her mother bravely pursue a college degree while raising a family, which led to a master's degree, which led to teaching, then to administration, and then to leadership in school programming working with children with special needs. This instilled in Sandy her just-try-and-stop-me willpower and boundless energy.
Sandy speaks of her family with admiration and reverence--of her mother's grit, her sisters' advice, her brothers' ribbing, and evenings spent with her father hashing out the world's problems over a glass of brandy. She speaks of her husband and children with the same adoration and marvels at their strength of character and achievements.
When asked about her own accomplishments, she is quick to tout the capabilities and triumphs of her friends and co-workers.
There is a pattern here. Sandy is, without a doubt, a relentless elevator of those around her. In her personal and professional life Sandy fosters the potential in others, interrupts discrimination, and closely guards her moral code. This may not seem outstanding to her, because for Sandy, there was never any other way. But for the women who follow her, the women who are balancing families and a career in the shadow of her example, the women who benefit from the fair treatment she demanded, the women she is quick to defend from underestimation, and the women who are empowered because of her confidence, it is nothing short of outstanding. That, Sandy, is why you're here.