Noni Ellison

SVP, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary, Tractor Supply Company

I believe staying active in supporting and empowering other women is essential. Making a difference is about the state of mind and following through with determination and focus. A “Power Woman” should be willing to adapt to change because it is the only constant. We must recognize the change and challenges women face… supporting their development.

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

I believe a “Power Woman” should possess authenticity, determination, professionalism, perseverance, collaboration, and adaptability. Being willing to adapt to an ever-changing environment is key while also being able to see the big picture. Self-improvement and self-reflection are essential as well.

What benefits and advantages does a company with positive gender equality have over a male-dominated workplace?

A company’s benefits and advantages with positive gender equality are the same benefits of having a diverse workplace. You get multiple perspectives and insights from people with different backgrounds who contribute more complete, thoughtful solutions and opportunities. It benefits a company to have a positive gender equality work environment because you bring more to the table that way. Having a variety of opinions and a well balanced view of ideas is always refreshing and leads to better results. I am proud of our commitment to promoting an equitable, accessible, and inclusive culture at Tractor Supply.

Is there one particular issue in your life you are passionate about? Something that overrides all your objectivity?

I am passionate about helping and coaching others on how to succeed in achieving their goals. I am also a mother of two teenagers and feel strongly about work-life balance for parents and everyone in the workforce.

What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take toward empowering women and gender equality? (e.g., affirmative action)? What can we do to continue supporting and enhancing women’s growth and presence in high-profile positions?

I believe staying active in supporting and empowering other businesswomen is essential. Making a difference is about the state of mind and following through with determination and focus. A “Power Woman” should be willing to adapt to change because it is the only constant. We must recognize the change and challenges women in business face and
make it a mission of hiring, mentoring, promoting skilled women, and supporting their business growth and development.

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block due to your gender?

There have been multiple roles that I have had in the legal profession and in the corporate arena where I have been the first woman and/or the first person of color. That said, I have been fortunate to work with forward-thinking and empowering leaders who supported me in work-life balance so that I could continue to make valued contributions as a corporate
executive and remain active in my children’s lives.

Do you think that asking about previous salary requirements in job interviews contributes to the pay gap between women and men? Should we push for a nationwide ban?

I am a firm believer in equal pay. Your salary should reflect your career history and achievements regardless of gender.

Should the USA reduce its role on the world stage?

The USA is a world leader, and if we continue to pave the way for gender equality, then we should remain ever-present.

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?

I was selected to represent my high school at Louisiana Girls State, an organization developing young women as future leaders. We learned about the democratic process and how our government works at the local, state and national levels. It was a unique and exciting government-in-action learning program that ignited my love of law and government. That was the experience that inspired me to become a lawyer– attend college in Washington DC and work on Capitol Hill–all of which I did. It set me on the path to the legal profession and laid the foundation for the career I have today. These and similar opportunities are extremely important for young girls, to expose them to the local, national and/or global stage and the impact they can have.

Have you seen changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?

Women are becoming more present in leadership roles, which is encouraging. The fact that change is happening is demonstrated by Kamala Harris as VP and Ketanji Brown Jackson as a justice of the United States Supreme Court—both trailblazers as the first African American women to hold those posts. Also, there is a more diverse and inclusive environment evolving, so it is exciting to see what the future holds as more women in business and politics lead the way.

Is “Education, education and education” one of the top three responsibilities of a civilized society? If not, why not? If so, why is it prohibitively expensive? Also, who should decide on the curriculum?

Education is essential and should be available for everyone regardless of cost. To be empowered with knowledge and then apply that knowledge is extremely rewarding. I have exhibited how vital education is by spending more than 20 years in school. I attended Howard University for my undergraduate studies, then University of Chicago law school and business school. I also was certified in the graduate program on health administration and policy. I then studied at the University of Manchester in Manchester, England, through the international business exchange program. Children must have access to a comprehensive, holistic, and inclusive education covering all the backgrounds that make up America’s melting pot so they can grow up as well-rounded adults with diverse perspectives.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

I would love to see life through the eyes of Kamala Harris for a day to have the perspective and the purview that she has when looking at world issues and how she makes an impact and influences change on the world stage…Not to mention we’re both ‘Bison’ from Howard University.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Years ago, an executive coach told me I should never dim my light to make other people feel comfortable. It’s from a Marianne Williamson that Nelson Mandela used in his 1994 inauguration speech. Essentially, there is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to manifest that is within us, and if we let our light shine, we constantly give other people permission to do the same.

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

A Promised Land by President Barack Obama and Elena Kagan: A Biography. They were both my professors at the University of Chicago School of Law. Having learned from them, I enjoyed reading both books. They each directly influenced my career path and life generally, and being under their tutelage in law school was a honor and privilege.

What do you most value in your friends?

Authenticity. Being who you are and being true to your personality, your values, and your spirit—not giving into peer pressure and being honest with yourself and others. You are authentic by speaking your opinions honestly and positively, making good decisions, following your passion, listening to your inner voice, allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and walking away from the negative. When you’re authentic, you embody all of these attributes.

Which trait do you most uncomfortable in yourself? In others?

I hold myself to a very high standard and am very hard on myself—a perfectionist of sorts.

As for others, I don’t particularly appreciate it when people are judgmental and overly critical. These traits breed cynicism and distrust.

What do you consider the most overrated virtue?

Agreeability. It’s okay to disagree if you can work through it to achieve a reasonable outcome. Therefore, it’s essential to have multiple views and ideas present. You may tactfully disagree with someone, remain cordial, and maintain professional work relationships. If we always placate, it’s not only dishonest, but it also closes the door to different perspectives which often leads to the best results.

Table / Sponsorship Request Access

For additonal inforamtion send an email to moonah@newyorkmoves.net or to request code over the phone 646.489.1633 

Check Spam for code

For additonal inforamtion send an email to pwgala2023@movespowerwomen.com or call 212.396.23.94 or 646.489.1633 (also text for rapid response)