As part of Women's History Month, four of our city's successful women participated in a panel discussion March 28 at Baton Rouge Community College, co-sponsored by the YWCA of Greater Baton Rouge.

Dianna Payton, executive director of the YWCA; Jill Rigby Garner, founder of Manners of the Heart; Casey Rayborn Hicks, public information director for the East Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Department; and Robyn Merrick, Southern University vice president for external affairs, shared with BRCC students tips on communicating with those with whom you disagree and advocating for causes you’re passionate about. They all agreed with Rigby, who said that if you give respect, chances are you’ll earn respect.

“Know yourself and the issues you’re advocating for,” advised Payton.

“Be informed and educated,” added Hicks. “Get all sides of an issue. Being respectful of other viewpoints helps you determine your own view.”

“It’s important that we know ourselves and have inner peace,” said Merrick. “Gratitude is one way to find inner peace. We can talk about problems all day but what is the solution? … True leaders are able to affect change.”

Perhaps a quote from Rigby’s mother sums it up best: “I may not be a perfect lady, but I’m a great woman.”

Follow Pam Bordelon on Twitter, @pamspartyline.