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TODAY’s Hoda Kotb, Jenna Bush Hager, Dylan Dreyer and more reveal the women who inspire them

In honor of Women's History Month, the ladies of TODAY are giving credit to the women who have made a difference in their own lives.
/ Source: TODAY

In honor of Women's History Month, the women of TODAY are shining a light on the female figures who have inspired them, both personally and professionally.

From Hoda Kotb to Jenna Bush Hager and Sheinelle Jones, some of the leading ladies in the TODAY family have taken a moment on TODAY Radio Show on SiriusXM to give love to the inspiring women in their lives. Read on to learn about the women who they look up to and why.

Hoda Kotb

Hoda
Hoda Kotb is celebrating her dear friend Maria Shriver during Women's History Month.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Though there are "so many powerful women" who have had an impact on Hoda's life, the TODAY co-anchor gave a special shoutout to the person who has had the biggest influence: Maria Shriver.

"She is somebody who lives life on her own terms and makes her own decisions and is full of wisdom," Hoda said of Shriver. "She is somebody who is a wisdom seeker. She spends her off-time trying to find ways to better herself — not for herself — so that she can help everybody."

Hoda said Shriver is who she'll call at 2 a.m. when it feels like "everything is hitting the fan" and that Shriver is a "calm in the storm."

Hoda and Maria Shriver
Hoda Kotb and Maria Shriver go way back and have appeared multiple times on TODAY together.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

"She’s like the eye of the hurricane," she continued. "You step into her presence and your body just relaxes, and I think, to have endured the things that she’s endured in her lifetime, and to have come from the journey that she’s been along, and yet there she is, her own person."

Praising Shriver's own journey to success, Hoda said her friend is "more of a listener than anybody" she's ever met.

"She makes me feel seen. She makes me feel loved. She makes me feel a sense of belonging. And she makes me feel like myself, which is beautiful," Hoda said. "If you can find one person who gives you the space to be exactly who you are, you should hang on to that person. And for me, it’s Maria Shriver."

Laura Jarrett

Valerie and Laura Jarrett
Laura Jarrett is giving a shoutout to her mom, Valerie Jarrett, this Women's History Month. @laurajarrett via Instagram

Saturday TODAY co-anchor Laura Jarrett's inspiration comes from someone close to home: her mother, Valerie Jarrett.

"She taught me how to work hard, she taught me how to love hard and she taught me to be at peace with the fact that there is no balance between work and home," Laura said. "She was a single mom. She raised me with the help of my grandparents, and she had a crazy job."

In moments where she finds herself saying, "This is really hard," Laura said she channels her mom's energy.

"It allows me to get through the rest of the day and whatever obstacle I’m facing," Laura added.

Dylan Dreyer

Dylan Dreyer
Dylan Dreyer is taking a moment to celebrate fellow meteorologist Janice Huff for inspiring her own career path. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

For TODAY meteorologist Dylan Dreyer, a fellow weather expert has driven her to shoot for the stars.

"I don’t even know if she knows, but it’s the lovely Janice Huff," Dreyer said of her female inspiration, WNBC New York's chief meteorologist.

"I grew up with older brothers and I never thought that there was anything I couldn’t do because I was a girl," she recalled. "I just did what I wanted to do. I played sports, even if it was on an all-boys sports team."

Dylan said she brought the same level of confidence to Rutgers University, where she was one of two women in the meteorology program — and it didn't faze her.

However, when it came time to make the leap to leave home and pursue a career as a meteorologist on television, Dylan said she was "nervous" — but recalled how Huff gave her confidence.

"I watched WNBC and there she was, Janice Huff, still going strong," Dylan said. "She was always just the person I saw doing the job that I wanted. And I never thought anything of it. It’s like, well, she’s up there. She can do it. I want to be a meteorologist, I can do it on TV, too, one day."

Dylan said she found comfort in Huff's "raspy" voice, which she said sometimes resembles her own. Additionally, Dylan always admired the way her fellow meteorologist provided the forecast.

"She was cool, calm, collected, smart, fashionable. She always looked great, but people listened to her because she was an authority on weather, and she still is," Dylan said.

"I don’t know if she knows she was such an inspiration to me in this job going forward, but if I had to say there’s a woman out there who helped me in my career, it would be Janice Huff," she continued.

Kristen Welker

Kristen Welker and mom
Kristen Welker recalls her mom bringing her to events growing up, and how it showed her that she can "reach for the stars." @kristen.welker via Instagram

"Meet the Press" moderator and NBC News chief White House correspondent Kristen Welker credited her mom for influencing her to be the person she is today.

This month in particular, Kristen said she's been thinking about growing up with a mom who would discuss current events and bring her to impactful business events to show her that "anything was possible."

"On Martin Luther King’s birthday every year, we would do something to honor him," Kristen said. "One year, we went to a luncheon that was attended by Rosa Parks, and I got to meet her and shake her hand, and I will never forget that moment."

Kristen called that particular memory "one of so many defining moments" that inspired her to "reach for the stars."

Jill Martin

Jill Martin
Jill Martin is thanking her physical therapist, Amy Shapses, for all her continued support. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

TODAY contributor Jill Martin is honoring a woman who has been her "rock" since Jill was diagnosed with breast cancer last year — her physical therapist, Amy Shapses.

"She is strong. She is talented at what she does as a physical therapist. But she is so empathetic and lets me cry and lets me laugh and lets me be through this journey," Jill said. "I’m just so incredibly grateful for her dedication, for her skill and for the love that she’s given me over the past seven months."

Sheinelle Jones

Sheinelle Jones
Sheinelle Jones is honoring her 94-year-old grandmother this Women's History Month. TODAY

3rd Hour of TODAY co-host Sheinelle is giving her 94-year-old grandmother, Josephine "Jo" Brown her flowers this Women's History Month.

"I call her grandmama," Sheinelle said."She was born in 1929 in St. Louis ... I admire my grandmother because I have these baby pictures of her, and I look at this little baby and think of all the things she dealt with as a young woman of color in 1929."

Sheinelle explained that her grandma moved from St. Louis to Wichita, Kansas, where she "took the reins of her life." Her grandma was a young mother to four children.

“As a mom now, I also respect the fact that she was able to navigate her life with these four kids, but she became the first woman of color on the school board in my hometown in Wichita, Kansas,” Sheinelle said. “And before that, she was a mover and shaker in education.”

Sheinelle said her grandma, who was on the school board her whole life, taught her how to read by driving around and studying signs. They also practiced handling finances when they went shopping for holiday gifts.

"I look back now and I think, 'Gosh, how lucky am I that I had a woman like that?' Like my grandmother, who just poured into me in so many ways — my intellect, my heart, my compassion and my style," Sheinelle said. "To this day, you will not go to her house — she’s what? 94 years old — and not see her in full-on fashion, necklaces, jewelry. Half the jewelry I wear on the show belongs to my grandmother."

Sheinelle added, "I am so lucky that I had a woman in my own life who blazed trails and continues to fill my cup up every day."

Vicky Nguyen

TODAY - Season 72
Vicky Nguyen is giving a special shoutout to Jane Park, CEO and founder of Julep Beauty and Tokki. Nathan Congleton / NBC via Getty Images

NBC News investigative & consumer correspondent Vicky Nguyen is bringing to light the inspiring story of Jane Park, who is paving the way for women in business.

"She’s the CEO and founder of Julep Beauty, a Korean beauty brand that she actually started because she wanted to provide a product that was healthy and clean for women, and it came from her Korean heritage and roots," Vicky said.

In addition to Julep Beauty, Vicky noted that Park has recently started a new sustainable gifting company called Tokki.

"What I love about Jane is not only is she a powerhouse CEO and a success in the business world, the person who is creating jobs for other people and putting things out into the world that helped make it a better place, she’s also a working mom," Vicky said. "And she’s also taking care of her husband, who has been battling a form of cancer."

Vicky said she admires Park for her strength, resilience and willingness to help other women, and she recalled being introduced to Park through a friend at a women's conference a few years ago.

"She immediately exuded a confidence and a warmth that you don’t often find in women who are so busy with their personal lives, their work lives," Vicky said, adding that Parks has been "such a good friend" to her since the beginning.

"I have such respect and admiration for her and I would love for my daughter’s to grow up to be someone like that, who is kind, generous, giving, loving and puts 100% of herself into everything that she does," Vicky added.

Libby Leist

Libby Leist
Libby Leist is putting a spotlight on her mom for "lifting others up" and being everyone's "biggest champion." Mark Von Holden / Getty Images

Executive vice president of TODAY Libby Leist continues to be inspired by the woman she's known the longest — her mom.

"She has all the qualities I’ve aspired to (have) over the years. She’s kind, hard-working, smart and, most of all, enthusiastic," Libby said. "She’s your biggest champion and I love that about my mom. She always cheers on others and thinks of others first and before herself. And to me, that's the greatest quality, is lifting others up."

Talia Parkinson-Jones

Hoda Kotb and Talia Parkinson
Talia Parkinson-Jones is inspired by fellow TODAY family member, Hoda, for all the joy she brings to work.@taliaparkinson via Instagram

Talia Parkinson-Jones, the executive producer of TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, said she's inspired by TODAY's own Hoda.

In addition to the co-anchor being a "talented journalist-broadcaster," Talia said Hoda's true impact is shines through "the way she shows up every day."

"Working with her every day brings all of us so much joy," Talia said of Hoda. "Her approach to motherhood, her approach to life. The light that she brings into the world every day is just so inspiring."

Jenna Bush Hager

Jenna Bush
Jenna Bush Hager is remembering how her two grandmothers always used their voices to be heard. Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Jenna, co-host on TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, is honoring the long lineage of impactful women in her family, specifically her mom and grandmothers.

"I’m actually named after my grandmother, my mom’s mom, Jenna Welsh," Jenna said. "And so I feel like before I was even born, my parents were saying how important those women would be in my life."

Both her grandmothers taught Jenna how to use her voice.

"They both use their (voices) in very, very different ways," Jenna said. "And yet, I feel like I watched them speak out and use their voices and it helped me understand that as a woman, it’s our responsibility to do that."

Kate Snow

44th Annual News Emmy Awards
Kate Snow is taking a moment to celebrate all the women who came forward with accusations against Bill Cosby. Cindy Ord / Getty Images

NBC News senior national correspondent Kate Snow said that when it comes to women who have inspired her professionally, she credits those who came forward with accusations against Bill Cosby.

"In 2015, I sat down with 27 women who all made accusations against Bill Cosby — again, of various kinds (of crimes) — and I had no idea what I was walking into," Kate began, saying that she didn't know the women personally beforehand.

Kate recalled hearing their stories face to face.

"To have them all sitting in front of me, it was like bleachers in a ballroom of a hotel, and telling their stories, their powerful, incredibly awful stories, just had a profound impact on me, personally and professionally," Kate said, adding that most of them hadn't met one another before they were brought together for NBC's interview.

Kate said the "jaw-dropping" experience is something that has remained with her since 2015.

"I’ve been in touch with these women for years and years since 2015," Kate explained. "Now, we’re going on nine years. They text me occasionally, they tell me what’s going on with them."

Since Cosby's conviction was overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and he was released from prison in 2021, Kate said that she continues to tell the stories of these women, who are still bringing lawsuits against the former actor.

"So much has happened over all these years and I’m just happy to have these women in my life," Kate said. "They inspire me."

Donna Farizan

Donna Farizan and mother
Donna Farizan says her mom is her inspiration and that she's "honored to share DNA" with her. @donnafarizan via Instagram

TODAY contributor Donna Farizan, who calls Women's History Month one of her favorite months because of all the women in her life, said her mom is someone who she's always viewed as a role model.

"She never gives up and she is one of the strongest women I know," Donna said. "And I feel really honored to share DNA with her because I think that she’s given me so much strength."

Donna continued, "She might not know it. But mom, I know you’re listening to TODAY's Show Radio, so I know you’re gonna hear it, but thank you for being such a source of strength and inspiration for me. Love you."