The core of The FAMiLY LEADER’s vision is cultural transformation. We seek a revived America that honors God and blesses people.
That’s only one of the reasons we’re so grateful to Cate Bryan (pictured at left above, Gov. Kim Reynolds at center, and TFL’s Denise Bubeck at right) for coming forward and telling us her story. The #MeToo movement has exposed a need for transformation in our culture, and Cate’s story of seeking positive, healing change is a powerful example in our divided times.
So we thank Cate for her courage and vulnerability, and we thank Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds for designating October as “Change the Culture Month” in Iowa.
by Cate Bryan
On Oct. 4, 2018, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a proclamation declaring October as Change the Culture Month here in Iowa. This proclamation is further proof that the governor is continuing her zero tolerance policy on sexual harassment in the workplace, and for that I, in particular, am very thankful.
For five years ago, I was at home, unemployed, sick, and sleeping to recover from the toxic work environment at the Iowa Capitol.
In January of 2013, I accepted a job offer with the Iowa Senate Republican Caucus, and I expected it to be my dream job. I was working with state senators in both the commerce and economic development committees, and initially, I was very happy in my role, working on bills and learning the legislative process.
But my job soon took a sharp turn for the worse.
One of my colleagues was fired for calling out her superiors over harassment and inappropriate comments by senators and staff alike. Her lawsuit for sexual harassment and wrongful termination would eventually cost the state over $1 million for failure to respond to a toxic work environment.
My story working at the Capitol ended quickly. I spent the summer of 2013 watching management pretend that everything was squeaky clean for the attorney general’s staff. Then, after all the interviews and fear of depositions and trials, one of the caucus staff members approached me with inappropriate conversation at best, harassment at worst.
Two of my male colleagues also heard what was said, and they supported my decision to go to the Senate minority leader for help. Unfortunately, the minority leader (who has since resigned under scandal and is no longer an Iowa senator) refused to listen. I never once heard from him, and my direct supervisor brushed off my concerns.
By then, the stress, fear, and worry was overwhelming my body, and I suffered adverse physical affects – panic attacks, rashes, etc. It came to the point that my Christian counselor, doctor, and husband all agreed that my health was so deeply affected by the job, the toxic work environment, and the leadership’s unwillingness to change the culture that I needed to quit. After providing a two weeks’ notice, I did.
By the fall of 2013, I was sick for months on end, taking in unemployment, and trying to heal. On some days, if I was able to crawl from bed to unload the dishwasher, I counted it a win.
Thankfully, I had a few things going my way. I had the support and care of my husband and family, and I had faith that God would heal me and find in my experience some way to bring good. In the words of the Gospels, I read and reread Christ’s encounters with women and his words of healing. To each woman, Christ met them in their current situation, provided words of forgiveness, and called them to a life of meaning. Reading, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34 NLT), encouraged me to take the time to heal and wait for the next season the Lord had for me.
Through five years I pondered whether to file a lawsuit myself, whether to go public, or whether to merely heal and move on.
Then, in November of last year, I had sudden reason to go public with my story. The Senate minority leader who had ignored my pleas for help in 2013 submitted a public report denying any allegations of harassment from 2013-2017, including the time I had been harassed. The public was pressuring him for answers about the environment at the Capitol, which he refused to give.
I was furious. But during some long drives to see my grandfather, who was in failing health, I resolved that more than just seeking justice, I wanted to find a solution that would bring positive, effective change to Iowa.
So I met with Gov. Reynolds.
Not only was the governor sympathetic to my story, but she also listened to my suggestion that she sign a proclamation to help break the pattern of sexual harassment in our state. She believed it was the right thing to do for the state. Gov. Reynolds immediately introduced me to her chief policy adviser, who worked with me to create a proclamation addressing sexual harassment.
I can say with full confidence that although the Iowa Senate failed me by refusing to act against harassment, Gov. Kim Reynolds has taken a strong stance against sexual harassment with her zero tolerance policy. For that, I am proud to call her my friend and my governor.
Because of Gov. Reynolds’ compassion and leadership, this month we are celebrating the Change the Culture Month in Iowa. The governor led with a significant step to ensure that every human being working in either the public or private sector is treated with respect and dignity, and now I hope Iowa’s government leaders will follow her lead and continue to execute proper procedures at the Capitol. I also hope this encourages private companies to follow the governor’s lead and encourage their human resources departments to have the tools they need to subdue and eliminate harassment in the workplace.
Though I am so thankful for this day and the freedom it has given me from the past five years, this proclamation is not the end of my goals. I will continue to work with the governor on this yearly event and encourage our legislators to take a stand with the governor.
None of these things would have turned from evil to good, however, unless the Lord worked mightily in, with, and through this situation. And my prayer is that my music students today, Iowa’s future, are given greater opportunities than I have had and are far more protected that I ever was at the State Capitol.
The full text of the governor’s proclamation can be read below:
WHEREAS, throughout history, sexual harassment has been a stain on our culture. It is a destructive force in the workplace and in all facets of life; and
WHEREAS, women have found the courage to speak out during this unprecedented moment in time; and
WHEREAS, sexual harassment is not a partisan issue. It cannot be fixed by legislation or rule-making alone; and
WHEREAS, the solution starts with every individual. It is about showing common respect to others. It also is about character and decency; and
WHEREAS, we cannot change behavior everywhere. But, in Iowa, we have an obligation to lead and serve as a role model for other states to follow; and
WHEREAS, what we do in Iowa matters. We must ensure justice and fairness prevails; and
WHEREAS, we must change the culture once and for all:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Kim Reynolds, Governor of the State of Iowa, do hereby proclaim the month of October 2018 as
CHANGE THE CULTURE MONTH