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‘Tis the Season to Do Good

Now that we are well into the holiday season, it’s the perfect time to pause and focus on what we’re grateful for. Gratitude has been proven to be completely safe and effective for making you feel better about life in general, especially during the holiday season. In the spirit of Thanksgiving and the rest of the season, it’s the best time to share our gratitude with the many organizations, or “social-profits” that “do good” and make the world a better place.

Currently there are approximately 1.5 million 501(c)3 organizations based in the United States, many of which Dr. Nancy describes as social-profits, for the value they provide to their communities goes far beyond the limitations of financial measurements. The many ways they do good – by providing resources, guidance, or a hand up to the people they serve – are innumerable.

This week #GivingTuesday – a global generosity movement – will unleash the power of radical generosity as millions of people will donate millions of dollars to “social-profits” worldwide. Created in 2012, Giving Tuesday, which is held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, sets aside a special day to encourage people to “do good.” And it’s turned into a pretty big deal. In fact, in 10 short years Giving Tuesday has “grown into a year-round global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.”

Many social-profits embrace the Giving Tuesday concept and “do good” by making a difference in our communities each day. From cultural centers to food banks to disaster relief organizations, they deliver important services, strengthen communities, and facilitate civic engagement. Whether we’re aware of it or not, these organizations play a vital role in our lives, and we all “profit” from their activities in countless ways.

“Social-profits benefit when we all come together to help those who need us, whatever the circumstances may be,” Dr. Nancy says. “All of us can help. All of us can serve. All of us benefit when we support our social-profit organizations.”

While Giving Tuesday is a rallying cry for donations worldwide, we should not limit our giving to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, but instead should follow the organizers’ lead and “do good” as often as we can. At Women Connect4Good, we are pleased to support several organizations that do good year round. Each one of them work towards the greater good, creates immeasurable benefits to those they serve, and aligns with our values.

As Dr. Nancy says, these vital groups are our path to changing the world, and they, like so many others in the social profit space, are often understaffed and underfunded. These organizations need our help, and we invite you to check them out as you plan your ways to do good this season.

National Women’s History MuseumYour support can help them inspire generations by sharing the stories of women who have broken barriers, shattered glass ceilings, and made contributions to our nation’s history.

Someone You Know – Your support will enable Asha Dahya and her team to complete Someone You Know, a film that shares three women’s abortion stories and the barriers they faced with Roe v Wade gone, to foster empathy and dismantle stigma.

Take The Lead – Your support will allow them to continue to provide leadership training programs and events that offer women the tools and skills needed to advance into leadership positions.

I Am a LeaderYour support makes a positive impact and supports their mission to increase the prevalence and success of women in the workplace, marketplace, and public service sector.

World Pulse Your donation helps more women make a bigger impact and powers their online community where women from 227 countries and territories are logging on and leading change for 21.6 million people and counting.

Convoy of Hope – When you shop this year’s Gift Catalog, you give the gift of hope and can support the Convoy initiative of your choice. For example, the Women’s Empowerment initiative means you are helping create opportunities for women and girls that will last for generations.

Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara – You can fulfill a wish for Girls Inc. girls and staff by selecting from their beautiful Wish Book, which shares programs (selected by the girls!) that will help them learn to value themselves, move past limitations and discover and develop their strengths to become the next generation of women leaders.

Women Like Us Foundation – Your support can make a difference in the lives of women and families in Kenya that transforms lives and livelihood for generations.

African American Women in Cinema – Your support will create global opportunities for minority women filmmakers and content creators and help connect their talents to resources, relationships and industry training.

Whether you choose to share with these programs and organizations or others, remember that we all “profit” when we donate our time, treasure, or talent to social-profit organizations. As Giving Tuesday organizers point out, “giving” isn’t just about the money. “Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor or stranger out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to contribute toward building the better world we all want to live in.” We couldn’t agree with them more.

The Future is NOW for Diversity Business Leaders

The Future is NOW! Developing Leaders for a Promising Tomorrow, was the theme of this year’s Diversity Women Business Leadership Conference, and once again Dr. Sheila Robinson and her team at Diversity Woman Media exceeded all expectations for the annual event. While conference hosts around the world have struggled, postponed, and lost out to social distancing since the arrival of COVID-19, Diversity Woman Media has pivoted to provide online expertise and inspiration to guide a diverse group of women (and men) forward, above and beyond the limitations of a worldwide pandemic, and all apparent technological challenges for two years. This year – with Crystal Harkless as Conference Director – the organization has pivoted again to prove you can have it both ways, with an extraordinary array of speakers live at the Gaylord Resort in National Harbor, Maryland, and online to shout out loud how we can emerge with fresh ideas, directions, and strategies to claim our place amidst the shifting tides of today’s business world.

After the opening reception and Tuesday night concert, Wednesday morning buzzed with excitement. During the opening remarks and welcomes Pamela Everhart, Senior VP for Fidelity Investments, asked attendees if they were “looking to be wowed” when she introduced Carla Harris, Senior Client Advisor at Morgan Stanley, author of the new book, Lead to Win, and gospel singer with five sold out concerts at Carnegie Hall. Carla borrowed highlights from her new book and declared that “the antidote for resignation is leadership.” In fact, she said that she calls what happened during the pause that was COVID, “the Great Contemplation,” not the Great Resignation. She said that people found new meaning in the last two-and-a-half years. Since nobody has the playbook for what is going on right now, Carla said we get to write our own. She went on to describe her eight pearls of wisdom for successful leadership: homing in on being authentic to build trust, delivering over and over again, and especially valuing yourself as a multifaceted individual–since only you can be you, bringing all of you is your greatest strength. She said, “Your voice is your power and now is not the time to be silent…It takes courage to lead to win.”

There were too many pearls to share them all, but there are several others that need to be mentioned. Monne Williams, a Partner at McKinsey & Company, shared startling statistics about women in the workplace, which she called “the Great Attrition.” Basically, she said there was a “fundamental mismatch between what employers and employees want.” People want to feel valued, and leaders have to be careful not to give their employees a reason to leave right now. Monne said that 71% of HR leaders say that hybrid work helps retain a diverse workforce and that women report experiencing fewer “othering microaggressions” when working remotely. All of which summed up how changing to a hybrid workplace can create a thriving, sustainable workforce for tomorrow.

Erika H. James, Dean of the Wharton School and Dr. Lynn Perry Wooten, President of Simmons University talked about their new book, The Prepared Leader: Emerge of Any Crisis More Resilient Than Before. They wrote their earlier book on crisis leadership after the Deep Horizon oil spill in 2009. They started to update it in 2019, when they both moved to new jobs and then the pandemic hit. They said that they were living what they wanted to write, which was real tips for leaders. The key is in the title of the book, being a “prepared leader.” They referred to preparation as the fourth bottom line (grouping it with people, planet and profit), and feel that being prepared involves building a trust bank so that your employees will be there in a crisis when you need them most. The trust bank also extends to the people in your life who support you, your personal board of directors: your significant other, girlfriends, babysitters–whoever you can call on when you need support. Although you can’t prepare for the exact crisis beforehand, you can prepare and practice improvising. They likened it to a polished jazz band. The musicians sound like they’re improvising, but they practice for hours–individually and together–until improvisation among their different instruments becomes seamless.

Dr. Sheila also introduced attendees to Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, CEO of Celebrity Cruises. The first female CEO of an American cruise line, Lisa went on to show how they’ve built women among the positions on the cruise ship that until now have only been crewed by men, including the Celebrity Edge all female bridge team. Lisa’s journey has taken 38 years – working from the bottom in an industry devoid of women leadership – and she credited male mentors for helping her on the long winding road. Her advice was, “Don’t limit yourself and teach your daughters to think less about fitting into the glass slipper and more about breaking the glass ceiling.” Lisa said that when she gets a no, she figures out how to turn it into a yes, but COVID presented unimaginable challenges. The cruise line industry was completely shut down for 15 months which meant that 20,000 people depended on her for hope and confidence, with 70 nationalities at home with no way to make a living. They survived with resilience, pivoting and turning noes into yeses. Dr. Sheila announced that in 2023 Diversity Woman Media has partnered with Celebrity Cruises for the first Women’s Self-Care Health and Wellness Conference Cruise. Check out the conference page for more information.

Day one concluded with a panel on Leveraging Male Allies to Advance Your Career. Vera Stewart, a VP with Bank of America, questioned W. Brad Johnson, PhD, Professor of Psychology at the US Naval Academy, Carlos Cubia, Chief Inclusion, Equity, Diversity and Sustainability Officer at Corewell Health, and Mark Person, Director of D&I for Dollar General Corporation. Each male ally had personal reasons for helping to promote women and suggestions for how to do it. Chief among them was the fact that advocacy had to be at the top of allyship. Carlos said that it can be as simple as standing up for something when something is not right, even if there might be repercussions. Brad cited studies about what women value in male allies–showing up and holding themselves accountable, showing up in public as well, including public sponsorship, and changing the systems by pushing policies for equal pay, doing audits, and keeping track of where women are being left behind. Two key points were mentorship and accountability. Brad gave examples of how to ask someone to be your mentor or vice versa. Rather than asking, “will you mentor me?” directly, he suggested that attendees put the request in context by referring to a presentation he made and drawing a comparison to something they’re working on. The second key point was accountability. More than one of the panelists said DEI has to be directly tied to management bonuses to get beyond lip service. Companies that are doing this are much more successful at achieving their DEI goals.

The Conference offered attendees so much more: outstanding winners of the Mosaic Awards, each with an inspiring acceptance speech, breakout sessions on a myriad of topics, additional moving keynote addresses, and insightful panels of experts. But this year’s Business Leadership Conference isn’t the only event in the works – Diversity Woman Media features the Business Leaders in Tech conference in December, and the Self-Care Cruise in April-May, 2023. Go to the website to see the complete schedule. If you can only work one conference into your schedule, mark November,  2023, for the 18th Annual Diversity Women Business Leadership Conference. There will be equally outstanding speakers and panels, and only one thing you must do to be ready–prepare to be wowed!

 

~Women Connect4Good is proud to be a sponsor of this empowering leadership conference for women.

 

Tiffany Shlain’s Dendrofemonology

Dr. Nancy joined a packed house of 450 attendees and acclaimed interdisciplinary artist Tiffany Shlain in San Francisco for the debut of Tiffany’s new art installation, Human Nature, presented by the National Women’s History Museum and Women Connect4Good. The show opened on November 2, 2022 and features twenty-four works: six tree rings exploring different histories, twelve mixed-media lightboxes, five photographs and a time-based media film. Each piece is available in four limited editions. The highlight of the installation, “Dendrofemonology” (feminist tree ring), uses the historical tree ring to illustrate a timeline of the story of women and power in society. The tree ring—a 55-by-61-inch slice of deodar cedar—highlights key moments in women’s history from 50,000 BCE (Goddesses are worshiped) to 2022 (overturning of Roe V. Wade).

“I have always been fascinated by the tree ring timelines at the entrance of Muir Woods or any National Park. They illuminate how the trees are a witness to human history. However, I also felt like those timelines tell a colonialist and patriarchal story,” Tiffany said. “Like I was being mansplained history. The tree rings in Human Nature imagine what alternate histories could be told…”

Human Nature shares Tiffany’s journey, and touches on what Dr. Nancy feels is our shared humanity. “There was such a powerful response to the exhibit. We were all looking at history through a feminist lens, This exhibit really touches on our humanity and our shared, lived experience.”

Jennifer Herrera with NWHM agreed. “Through her inspiring, compelling, and thought-provoking work, Tiffany has long embraced her role as a creator to affect change through art and storytelling. Human Nature is yet another powerful extension of her commitment to exploring issues of gender equity, equality, and women’s representation. This important exhibition guides visitors to the future through an exploration of the past, allowing viewers to reflect on history and inspiring them to act to create a more representative, inclusive world.”

NWHM has taken Dendrofemonology’s powerful milestones – the text burned into the feminist history tree ring – and made it interactive, going deeper into some of the lines here.

The Human Nature exhibit will be on display through January 2023 at the San Francisco Ferry Building’s SHACK15. There are a number of ways to experience the exhibit in person in San Francisco or online, for details go here.

Women Change the Conversation with Vote and Leadership Style

With so much going on in the world today, it’s hard to determine which issue(s) will drive voters in the upcoming midterms, and who they will choose to represent them. Young women (ages 18-29) in battleground states are motivated in large part by women’s rights – namely abortion and the Equal Rights Amendment – and are highly motivated to cast their ballots, supporting initiatives and candidates who reflect their views.

“Despite constant reports in the media on inflation and rising prices as the top issues in this election, abortion and women’s rights are actually the most important for young women as they head to the ballot box,” said Katherine Spillar, executive editor of Ms. 

They’re not alone in their rush to the polls. More women of all ages plan to vote this year, perhaps more than at any time before. AARP reports that an overwhelming majority of women voters aged 50 and over say they are certain to vote this November (94%), and 80% of women voters rate their motivation to vote at a 10, with economic and social issues being top of mind. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll released in mid-October reports that half of all voters say that they are more motivated to cast a ballot because of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Three-quarters intend to back candidates who support abortion rights, compared to 17% who plan to vote for candidates who want to limit access. In fact, 50% of 1,534 adults KFF polled say they are more eager to vote in the midterms due to the fall of Roe, up from 43% in July and 37% in May. Add to that the fact that 51% of voters in states with abortion bans are more motivated to vote, compared to 32% in states that protect abortion access. These numbers may also account for a number of Republican candidates softening their abortion stances in this election cycle.

It’s important to note that while the fall of Roe may make the current discourse seem like it’s entirely about reproductive freedoms, there’s more to it, a lot more. The Center for Reproductive Rights points out that Roe actually binds together an entire class of personal freedoms, all part of the Constitution’s liberty doctrine. “Roe was a watershed decision, and its place in constitutional doctrine does not begin, or end, with abortion rights. Instead, Roe is one in a line of seminal opinions through which the Supreme Court has developed the liberty doctrine as a source of substantive rights. Those rights encompass abortion, but extend much farther.” In fact, overturning Roe threatens the constitutional foundations for a range of other liberties, and women are alerted to other personal liberties that may be affected and how elected representation might protect those rights.

The Brookings Institute points out that women vote more often than men – in the 2020 presidential election, women constituted 52% of the electorate compared to 48% for men. Brookings also pointed out how in 2020, women cast their ballots for women up and down the ticket, calling it “The Year of the Woman Voter” and wrote that the election was driven by the increasingly overwhelming determination of a significant number of women from every demographic. But as the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University points out, “Women are neither a monolith in their political beliefs, nor a unified voting bloc. Not all women are moved by the same issues and concerns, and cross-cutting identities of race, ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation often pull women voters in different directions, particularly in the hyper-partisan context of American politics.”

We Need Women to Lead

One hundred years ago we saw the passage of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing and protecting women’s constitutional right to vote, six years ago we had a woman running for the highest office in the land, and four years later Kamala Harris made history when she became the first woman, the first woman of color, the first Black person and the first South Asian to be elected Vice President of the United States. When she was sworn in, we – at last – had a woman in the second highest office in the land who understands juggling the demands of a career with the needs of a family, why you need to choose your own reproductive journey, the importance of equal pay, and who values affordable healthcare, childcare and workplace protections. We need women who possess that same understanding at every level and who are empowered to help make your voice heard.

Why women? According to RepresentWomen.org, representation is powerful, and is a fundamental pillar of a functioning democracy. Yet here we are, in 2022, and half of our population is underrepresented, not just nationally, but at every level of government. “Leveling the political playing field clearly benefits women candidates, but what does this do for all women? And what about the other half of the population? As it turns out, advancing towards gender parity not only empowers women, but also strengthens our democracy and serves the entire nation.”

Women also lead differently. RepresentWomen.org notes that while we have had anecdotal evidence of women in political office working together and problem solving, there is also new quantitative data to support those claims. “The challenges and life experiences unique to women inform their policies and leadership styles, meaning they tackle issues from different angles than men do. By better representing women’s perspectives, we can revitalize and diversify policymaking.” In addition, American University finds that women legislators “work harder for their constituents.” Women also tend to prioritize minority needs and focus on family and healthcare more than their male counterparts.

Women also have a different approach to power, and legislate with their eyes on those they serve, benefitting their communities and our nation as a whole. As Gloria Feldt writes in her book No Excuses, “Culture has taught women that power means “power over,” a concept that has been drummed into feminine consciousness through traditional, heavy-handed masculine leadership. When women re-think power as the ‘power to’ accomplish their goals, they want to own it and use it in an entirely different way.”

It’s a given that we still have a way to go when it comes to equal representation. However, as the issues become more gender specific, it is important to have women seated at the table, who can represent our voices and keep the issues that impact us, our families, and communities front and center. Remember, women lead differently, and care deeply about those they serve.  Congresswoman Cori Bush summed it up best when she said in her acceptance speech in 2020 that she loves the people who elected her and those she represents, and it is with that love that she will fight for everyone in her district. This is why it’s crucial to get more women serving in public office. That kind of dedication and perspective completely changes how we are governed. It starts in our communities and at the ballot box when we elect women at every level to lead us, to fight for us, and to build a country with a government that works for us all.

Dr. Nancy O’Reilly Joins National Women’s History Museum Board of Directors

On September 30, Dr. Nancy was pleased and honored to be appointed to the National Women’s History Museum’s Board of Directors. Founded in 1996, the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM) is an innovative online museum dedicated to uncovering, interpreting, and celebrating women’s diverse contributions to society. A renowned leader in women’s history education, the Museum brings to life the countless untold stories of women throughout history and serves as a space to experience, collaborate and amplify women’s impact—past, present, and future, striving to fundamentally change the way women and girls see their potential and power.

“In March 2020, we were proud to honor Dr. Nancy O’Reilly with our prestigious Women Making History Award for her tireless work championing women’s equality and advancement,” Susan Whiting, Board Chair of the National Women’s History Museum said. “Today, we’re humbled to have Dr. Nancy join our Board of Directors. Dr. Nancy brings decades of experience as an educator, author, philanthropist, and advocate to our Museum, and will help guide us as we work to bring to life the immeasurable and often untold roles women have played in shaping, influencing, and creating American history.”

Dr. Nancy first began working with and supporting NWHM’s work shortly after the 2020 Award. Considering several developments and events currently scheduled, like Tiffany Shlain’s first solo exhibitionHuman Nature – presented by NWHM in partnership with Women Connect4Good – she feels now is the perfect time to get more deeply involved and help move the work forward. “As we know, women’s contributions and accomplishments have been largely kept out of our history books. We know the history of our papas, but It’s time for us to know the stories of our mamas, so we can follow in their capable footsteps and make history of our own” Dr. Nancy said.

“The Museum is how we do that. I’m truly honored to join this impressive group and to be part of the work, charged with sharing women’s stories,” Dr. Nancy added. “This is an exciting time for the Museum too, because after 26 years of providing online information about women’s contributions to history they are preparing an interactive exhibit in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Washington DC – a location that is not only easily accessible, but one that is also quite inspiring.”

While the physical exhibit is definitely something the Museum team is looking forward to, Susan Whiting added, “The online component of the Museum’s work will continue and get even more inclusive as they add more stories of outstanding women who have been omitted and forgotten in our historical record. NWHM will access numerous spaces to continue its work recording history and preserving it for ourselves and future generations.”

The NWHM fills in major omissions of women in history books and K-12 education, providing scholarly content and educational programming for teachers, students, and parents, reaching more than four million visitors each year through online content and educational resources. To learn more about the Museum and their work, go to WomensHistory.org.

Human Nature – Tiffany Shlain’s First Solo Exhibition

Tiffany Shlain is an acclaimed multi-media artist working across film, text and performance. For her first solo exhibition in San Francisco, Tiffany introduces new perspectives evoked by the compelling relationship between time and nature through her current exploration in time-based media, photography and sculpture. The exhibition is presented by the National Women’s History Museum based in Washington, D.C. in partnership with Women Connect4Good, Inc.

Tiffany is known for bringing forth complex ideas in new ways with humor and provocative insights. “In Human Nature, I use a feminist, philosophical, and ecological lens to explore the humility and realignment we feel when we view ourselves in the context of deep time and nature. I want to conjure up the sublime: our sense of perspective, smallness and awe created by expansive vistas and towering trees that have stood as witnesses for thousands of years.” Tiffany says.

“Everything Tiffany does is so timely and important for us to understand and know.  Much of her work has long focused on gender and women’s rights and leadership. Human Nature is adding to her impressive body of work,” Dr. Nancy said. “This exhibit reveals a new perspective about women and power throughout history. Women Connect4Good and the National Women’s History Museum are pleased to help Tiffany tell this story in such an awe-inspiring way. It has been exciting to watch it come together, and I urge everyone to come see it and share it with your daughters, your sons and all the generations to come.”

Honored by Newsweek as one of their “Women Shaping the 21st Century, Tiffany is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, founder of the Webby Awards, and author of the national bestselling book 24/6: Giving up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity, and Connection, winner of the Marshall McLuhan Outstanding Book Award. Her work has received over 80 awards and distinctions, including selection for the Albert Einstein Foundation’s 100 Visionaries continuing Einstein’s legacy. The US State Department has selected Tiffany and her films to represent North America at embassies around the world.

Human Nature, opens November 2, 2022 at SHACK15 in the San Francisco Ferry Building, where Tiffany is the current artist-in-residence. To learn more about the exhibition go to TiffanyShlain.com/art.

Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is a Wakeup Call For Us All

Last week marked Black Women’s Equal Pay Day, the day the average Black woman in the US finally—after nine extra months of work—made what their white male counterparts did in 2021. It’s important to note that in 2021, Black Women’s Equal Pay Day was recognized on August 3, but in 2022 it’s been pushed back by nearly two months. That means the pay gap is widening – fast. September 21 was not a day to celebrate, but a stark reminder of the gross inequities that Black women continue to face and is a wakeup call for us all.

This loss of pay is charted by HerMoney.com, who reported that in 2020, Black women made 63 percent of what white, non-Hispanic men made. However, the pandemic caused full-time Black women workers’ median wage to be reduced to 58 cents in 2021, according to ACS Census data. This widening gap is similar to the levels of the 1960’s and is even more shocking compared to the 83 cents gap of women of all races, reported by The American Association of University Women. Factoring in all races moved Equal Pay Day for the rest of us to March 15 this year, which means that Black women had seven more months to earn the same pay as non-black women in this country where all people are supposed to be equal.

Overall, Black workers have always faced discrimination in the workforce, and Black women are especially vulnerable as they face the double jeopardy of not only being Black, but also being female. That discrimination costs them too, as much as $1,891 per month, $22,692 per year and a staggering loss of $907,680 over a 40-year career, according to the National Women’s Law Center. This means that a Black woman has to work until she’s 80 years old to make what a white man makes by the time he reaches 60. The wage gap starts with girls as young as 16 and worsens as Black women progress through their education and careers. Even though Black women enroll in college at higher rates than men, Black women who have bachelor’s degrees still earn 36% less than white men with bachelor’s degrees on average.

Part of the current disparity can be traced to the pandemic. COVID-19 dramatically shifted the labor market and hit women of color the hardest. Millions of women were forced out of the workforce due to layoffs and increased caregiving demands, with women of color suffering the greatest economic losses, to the tune of 1.4 million jobs, largely in industries in which Black women are overrepresented such as services and hospitality,according to a separate report from the NWLC. The report further states that unequal pay has left Black women less able than their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts to successfully weather the economic fallout of the pandemic. And data shows that economic gains in recent months have not been experienced evenly across groups by race and gender. For example, the unemployment rate for Black women was double digits for 6 months in 2020—including a peak of 16.6% in May 2020—before finally declining. That means Black women have been yet again excluded from full economic recovery, and the unemployment levels they have been facing would be labeled recessionary if they were applied to all workers.

While COVID-19 brought some of the racial and gender issues that Black women face to light, it’s important to remember that these are not new problems. Black women have been working twice as hard for half as much long before COVID-19, the pandemic simply added another layer to the inequities they’ve long faced.

Nicole Mason, president and CEO of the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, told ABC News that the solution for closing the gender pay gap for Black women needs to come from both the government and private sectors. “On the federal level, Mason said the passage of legislation like the Paycheck Fairness Act can help promote pay equity and transparency, while enforcement of existing civil rights and equal employment laws can help lower workplace discrimination.”

Black women are in crisis, and the growing pay gap must be reversed. We need to work together to address the disparities and close the pay gap for Black women, while creating a system that supports all women the same way it supports and protects our male counterparts. We need to make sure that women across the board are recognized for their skills and talents and actually get paid fairly for the work they do. Equal pay for all (women and men) needs to be a top priority, and this year’s Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is a resounding wakeup call – reminding us to take action. We need to take steps to make change for everyone, point out the injustices, and do what we can (all races and genders) personally and politically to make sure that Black women get the equal pay they deserve.

The Cassandra Project Shows Why Women’s Voices Must Be Heard

Filmmaker Barclay DeVeau’s new project focuses on one unifying and terrifying truth – when women’s voices are not heard, it is very dangerous for everyone. The Cassandra Project is a trilogy of narrative short films highlighting the reality and risks of women being dismissed and disbelieved. The project will feature the stories of three female protagonists whose voices are discounted due to gender disparity, in each case leading to extremely high stakes situations. By tying the films together in a trilogy, Barclay believes the impact will be all the greater.

On The Cassandra Project website, the team writes, “Like many of you, we have been disturbed by the current state of things in our country. So much progress has been reversed recently, that it often feels like retreat or resignation are the two most viable options. But we refuse to do that. In discussing what we can do to push back, fight and take a stand, we decided to create The Cassandra Project…The specific idea for this project came from one of our own experiences of a medical crisis that was discounted, disregarded, and disbelieved. The rest of us watched for months as our friend’s health deteriorated and she tried to get help, but it wasn’t until she was critical that she received the medical care necessary. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. In almost every scenario imaginable, women’s voices are not given the same credence as their counterparts, and the stakes for everyone are extremely high.”

That “friend” was Barclay herself, who got very sick in 2020 with a wide range of symptoms that ultimately affected seven systems of her body.

“For more than eight months, I begged doctors, nearly daily, to help me – pleading with them as I felt a poison spreading throughout my body,” Barclay said. “During this time, as I attempted to get a diagnosis and help, I was repeatedly dismissed, disregarded and disbelieved, even as my symptoms increased.”

In fact, it was not until she had a seizure – which led to a temporary coma – that she started being heard. “By that time, what turned out to be a rare bacterial infection, had spread to my heart, my brain, my autoimmune system, my neurological system, and my connective tissue, joints and muscles,” Barclay added.

Now that she’s received intensive treatment – from wonderful doctors who have given her life back – Barclay feels a responsibility to use her filmmaking skills to speak out and show how not listening to women can be a matter of life or death.  The Cassandra Project (named after the Greek goddess who could see the future, but was disbelieved because of a curse) ties three very different stories together as a trilogy. The films will include Barclay’s own story, which will become a sci-fi/horror, “because, well…that’s what it was.” She’s not able to reveal anything about the other two shorts yet, but says, “trust me, they’re awesome!  And we have some incredible cast members attached.”

To happen though, The Cassandra Project needs support. Shooting is planned for January and February 2023 and with completion scheduled for summer 2023.  Barclay says that she will submit the trilogy to all the major film festivals and to the Academy for Oscar consideration in the short film category. The goal is to raise $50k for production costs, including cast and crew, camera, grip and lighting equipment, art department expenses, locations, permits, catering and postproduction costs.

To help Barclay make The Cassandra Project a reality, Dr. Nancy is offering to match up to $10k in donations through September 30. That, coupled with incentives Barclay’s team is offering for contributions at different levels, has helped kick off their fundraising campaign. While they’ve started strong, they still have a way to go.

“Dr. Nancy is an amazing advocate for women, and we are absolutely thrilled to have her on board as a partner in this project,” Barclay said. “Every contribution, no matter the amount, will help us raise awareness and affect change with these films; every single dollar is deeply appreciated.”

To learn more about The Cassandra Project, or to make a donation and help Barclay and her team raise women’s voices, go to www.thecassandraproject.net.

Take The Lead Presents Make Good Trouble

Warning! Your Voting Rights Are at Risk –
Read This ASAP to Make Sure Your Vote Will Be Counted

Have you checked your voter registration?  It’s important to check, even if you’ve voted before.  All over the country there are reports of people who thought they were registered to vote that have recently found out they no longer are.  And voting registration deadlines are coming up QUICK, in some states as early as this month!  Voting is one of the best ways to get your voice heard, and if you aren’t registered, that voice is silenced.

Take the Lead has partnered up with some fantastic organizations to provide you with information on how to register to vote, check your registration, find your polling place and anything else you need to get out to the polls this midterm election.  Voting is leadership, and you have the opportunity to make a real impact in your community.  If you’re with an organization, share Take The Lead’s Voter Toolkit with your group to so they’ll have everything they need come this November.

Check your registration NOW and register to vote here: weall.vote/takethelead

Join Take The Lead online this Tuesday September 20, 2022, at 3pm ET/12pm PT for the Make Good Trouble: How to Be an Effective Citizen Panel on Civic Engagement, coinciding with National Voter Registration Day.  The panel will feature Take The Lead Co-Founder and President Gloria Feldt, When We All Vote Deputy Director of Partnerships Priestley Johnson, Power The Polls Partnerships Marta Hanson and Vote Early Day Project Director Bryce Bennett in a non-partisan discussion on civic engagement, voting as leadership and how YOU can make an impact in your community.  Register for free at taketheleadwomen.com/CivicEngagement.

Marina Arsenijevic Supporting Take The Lead With Latest Release

Marina Arsenijevic’s performance during Take The Lead Women’s Power Up Concert at the Arizona Biltmore set the tone for a powerful conference experience for attendees. But her impact didn’t stop there as she is donating a portion of the profits from her latest album, “Tesla Rhapsody” to Take The Lead, helping them advance their mission to prepare, develop, inspire and propel women across all industries and sectors to reach parity in leadership by 2025.

Marina opened the concert with her favorite Chopin “Fantaisie-Impromptu,” followed by her version of Mozart blended with “Peter Piper” and “Music Box Dancer.” She then introduced two of her own compositions inspired by her heritage growing up in Serbia and the Balkans, “Danube Rising” (a theme from her “Tesla Rhapsody”) and “Fire & Soul.” She continued with her classical/pop rock version of “My Beauty” using her own voice as a second instrument. She concluded the program with Chopin’s “Revolutionary Etude” as an introduction to “America the Beautiful.”

Dr. Nancy attended the performance and said that Marina was fantastic. “She shared the gifts of her talent and beautiful music with us all, and the standing ovation she received was well deserved. Marina’s performance also illustrated her commitment to and support of women’s leadership – evidenced by the fact that she is donating a portion of the profits of her latest CD to Take The Lead. Marina’s donation provides us all with a glimpse of her big heart and gentle, caring soul. She is a true changemaker, and her support is going to help us help other women move forward.”

“Marina wows the audience with her passion and brilliant performance,” said Gloria Feldt, Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. “Everyone is buzzing about Marina!”

“Marina tore the damn house down,” Leadership Brand Strategist and Founder of BlackWomanElevate.com Felicia Davis added.

Check out Marina’s performance, and learn more about her and her work at MarinainAmerica.com.

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