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Janelle Brandon , Published November 23 2012

Who's your super hero? Local women identify the inspiring heroines in their lives

Wonder Woman. Superwoman. These famous superheroes first emerged in comic books during the World War II era.

Superwoman’s powers originally came from a blood transfusion from Superman. This meant, in many instances, she’d lose her superpowers after a day or night of superhuman feats of strength and heroics and revert back to Lois Lane.

Wonder Woman, however, came from a place of love and strength and has sustained her power since being created by psychologist and feminist, Dr. William Moulton Marston for DC Comics in the early 1940s. She’s remained a pop-culture icon as well as one of America’s strongest comic fiction’s embodiments of female empowerment for the last 70 years.

There is really only one, quite hefty, problem with Wonder Woman. She’s not real.

So who’s your super hero?

Local women all named women they knew or heroines that stood for the values they most wanted to see echoed in themselves.

Local women and their heroines

Dayna Del Val, the executive director of the Arts Partnership, enjoys spending her days in and with the arts community. She lives in Fargo with her husband, teenage son and their rambunctious golden retriever.

Del Val named her mother, Bonnie Bowman, as her hero.

“My mother continues to be my harshest critic and strongest supporter,” she says. “When she says something is good, I know it’s pretty good, and the reverse is equally true.

Bowman went back to school as a 35-year-old while raising her then-15-year-old daughter.

“I saw her take control of her life and make a better life for her children at a challenging time,” Del Val says.

Del Val also named Carol Schlossman, the former Arts Partnership board chair and friend, as a heroine.

“Carol has taught me how to bring business concepts to the nonprofit world,” she says. “Plus, her generous spirit is infectious.”

Paloma Segal, a comedian, writer, feminist and champion of gender equality, hosts “The Fargo Show” on Vokle.com.

“The women who have inspired me the most are the rule breakers, the ones who have challenged social convention,” she says.

“There is a beautiful, raw diversity among women that often gets ignored. While there is still tremendous social pressure to conform to the archetypical wife-mother persona, women are now breaking free and defining for themselves what it means to be a woman – what it means to be human, really.”

Becca Lebak, the newly crowned Miss Red River Valley, is a junior at Minnesota State University Moorhead majoring in broadcast journalism. She will compete for Miss North Dakota this June in Williston.

“My heroine is my mom, Margaret Lebak,” she says “Not only is she a beautiful woman on the outside, but she is a strong and warm-hearted woman on the inside.”

Margaret has battled multiple sclerosis for almost 30 years and continues to hold strong, Becca says.

“She is my biggest cheerleader when it comes to life’s obstacles and loves to be my pageant mom,” Becca says.

Margaret also enjoys playing the “mom role” in her work as a substitute teacher.

“She has her actual kids and then her ‘kids’ in the classroom,” Becca says.

Margaret sends Becca an uplifting text message every day, including, this one, Becca’s favorite:

“May your skies all be sunny

Your days all be sweet

May God guide the path

that you choose for your feet.”

Sara Watson Curry is a lifelong North Dakotan, interested in creating spaces, events and intentional interactions to stir the creative synergy in the community.

She is a proud worker-owner of the Red Raven Espresso Parlor and server at the Green Market Kitchen.

This year, Watson Curry’s birthday fell the day before the election, so she tried to brainstorm a fitting heroine to help her celebrate the day.

“Susan B. Anthony became an inspiration,” Watson Curry says.

Nov. 5 marked the 140th anniversary of Anthony’s first vote. The vote wasn’t legal, and she was arrested, tried and fined $100, Watson Curry says.

“Naturally, this means I (needed) to have an activist-themed birthday party, but beyond my own desire to gather some of my friends together, I was moved by the endurance and journey that such activists endure for justice to prevail.”

It took more than 40 years for women to get the right to vote, an essential part of our democracy, Watson Curry says.

“It is now difficult to fathom that is was a right that was resisted for so long,” she says. “Susan B. Anthony’s life is so compelling and rich with activism starting at the age of 17. Of course, earning the right to vote and run for office doesn’t end women’s fight for equality or representation.”

Watson Curry also named a local, contemporary champion of women in politics, Deb White.

White is the coordinator of the Tri-College NEW (National Education for Women’s) Leadership Institute.

“In 2009, I participated in NEW Leadership and was blown away by the participants and was happy to meet the Deb White,” she says.

“Her leadership and role as an educator and coordinator has helped motivate countless women to utilize their skills and connections to help create a fair and just landscape.”

Janelle Brandon is a freelance writer who lives in Moorhead.