Empowerment

Kindness Equals Love in Action

Tara Cousineau

Dr. Tara Cousineau

Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Tara Cousineau reacted to the cruelty of mean girls by becoming a kindness warrior and set out to make the world a kinder place. Dr. Cousineau maintains that kindness is a natural human action. We all start out being kind and compassionate to other people, then life happens. We may experience war, trauma, poverty, or other hardships and survival takes over. She maintains that because of our basic need to survive, the initial purity of thought and kindness for others is diminished, or even buried beneath our more urgent needs. However, she urges everyone to work at kindness. Whatever we feel and express is contagious. It’s up to each of us to decide what we want to share: meanness, which is an expression of hate, or kindness–an expression of love. Dr. Cousineau advises that we intentionally choose kindness for ourselves and others.

Kindness Is the Energy of Healing

When Dr. Cousineau talks to people about kindness, it is often dismissed as a soft, unimportant skill. But as a kindness warrior, she has the research to prove that it’s not only beneficial for us to express kindness, it’s a healthy choice. She calls it “the energy of healing.”  When confronted with a daily bombardment of negativity in the world, she uses kindness and compassion as a heart, mind, body remedy to stay happy and healthy. Her new book, The Kindness Cure: How the Science of Compassion Can Heal Your Heart and Your World, shares the science and the technique for creating compassion for yourself and for others.
Kindness Cure Book CoverDr. Nancy shares her experience watching caregivers burn out and become unable  to help the people they serve with compassion. Dr. Cousineau says that it’s actually “empathy-fatigue” that makes them unable to continue to relate to the pain and suffering of those they care for. Empathy is the emotion where we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Caregivers’ stress response is to shut down when they can no longer tolerate another person’s pain. She says that’s especially true for caregivers of elderly parents with Alzheimer’s.  That’s when it’s important to create boundaries and care for and be kind to yourself.  Kindness and compassion is an uplifting experience, a tender loving emotion, not a negative one. Saying no, setting boundaries and caring for oneself in these instances, is an expression of kindness for yourself.

Contagious Kindness—3 Degrees of Separation

Dr. Cousineau says that there is a measurable mathematical result from sharing. When we share kindness with a friend, that friend shares it with another friend, who shares it with another friend. When it reaches the third friend of a friend, it mathematically has the capacity to come back to you. She also notes that in the worst of times, her mother told her to look for the helper. It harkens back to “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood,” but is a life lesson. Everyone who has done anything positive in the world has one person who has helped in some way—shared kindness through appreciation of that person’s talent or simply in their value as a human being. It is beyond being nice and polite, it is being truly compassionate for other people, recognizing kinship and unity with them.
Listen to this interview for more stories about how kindness can generate positive emotions and results in the world. Check out Dr. Cousineau’s website and take the quiz to find out your kindness quotient. Then get the cure with her new book and set your intention to promote kindness. It will literally lighten your day.

Superpowers Revealed at #50 Women Can

Tabby Elisa 50 Women

Tabby Biddle & Elisa Parker
Photo by Woods Photography


by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
It was amazing to see how women can make history by coming together and supporting each other while following their passion and purpose. On February 2, Take The Lead’s 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment  kicked off with a celebration at NeueHouse Hollywood. This gender parity leadership initiative was spearheaded by two powerful Take The Lead Leadership Ambassadors, Elisa Parker (host of the award-winning program “See Jane Do”) and Tabby Biddle (bestselling author of Find Your Voice). Overall, 50 women were chosen from the media and entertainment industry to participate in the #50 Women Can initiative. These women represented various aspects of the industry, including broadcasters, filmmakers, producers, performers, directors, media company founders and more. These are the storytellers who will change the way women and girls see themselves in the future by reaching gender parity in the media and entertainment industries.
50 Women Group

Photos by Woods Photography


The energy was electric with so many powerful women coming together focusing on a shared goal. With the help of WomenConnect4Good, Inc., CBS, HBO, a partnership with NeuHouse and others, this cohort of women can step forward in the coming year to make lasting changes in the industry that shows women every day how they should see themselves. Gloria Feldt, co-author of Leading Women, and bestselling author of No Excuses, conceived the initiative to move parity forward within individual industries.  The first 50 Women initiative, which represented the social-profit/non-profit and civic industry sector in Arizona, launched in 2016. With the model in place, Elisa and Tabby teamed up to launch this second initiative in Hollywood. Like the earlier 50 Women, this cohort will focus on empowerment through the use of Gloria Feldt’s 9 Power Tools for women with the goal of propelling women into parity in the media and entertainment industry by 2025.
Nancy 50 Women

Photo by Woods Photography


The real work began Saturday, February 10, with a two-day workshop at Mount St. Mary’s University, a Take the Lead Partner that produces a Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California™ highlighting issues of gender inequity across the state. The next statewide gender equity report will come out in March 2018, and include a discussion on how 50 Women really Can Change the World in Media & Entertainment.  Plans are for a one-year collaborative research study assessing the impact and efficacy of 50 Women.
These 50 Women will participate in workshops held at Mount St. Mary’s and in on-line webinars for the 50 Women cohort during the next four months. Curriculum will cover critical areas of professional change that includes asking for what you want  in regard to funding and financing, legal insight for women in the industry, tools for dealing with difficult people and situations, supporting and becoming an industry game-changer, and much, much more. Focusing on the already impressive talents of these 50 women, the program will arm them with super-tools to tackle the challenges they face every day in this male-dominated industry.
There were many inspirational speeches made at the launch. Ana Flores, the founder and CEO of #WeAllGrow Latina Network proclaimed, “Being at the #50WomenCan Flagship Reception I felt like a fire was lit in me. The collective energy of the women in the room validated my vision of women helping other women grow and thus effectively changing the way business is done and content is created and distributed. I could feel the change is no longer a request, but a mandate and we’re all ready to play our role in it.”
Alica Ontiveros, Senior Producer, Q Creative said, “The industry is ripe for change, but it’s going to take true commitment from stakeholders at every level and sector of the business to make that change meaningful and lasting. I’m proud to have the opportunity to collaborate with so many successful women about how we can bring this industry into a new more equitable and profitable future. This initiative couldn’t have come at a better time.”
The time is NOW! I’m impatient and don’t want to wait until 2025 for women to reach parity. Each day we can do something to support another woman and help each other in all our communities to bring women forward into the leadership positions that both create the role models for our daughters, and make the world a better place. Using our voices and telling our stories in the world of media and entertainment gives us the loudest megaphone possible. Partnering with our sisters and supporting their vision of real women’s stories opens the door for untold possibilities. Parity is in our grasp and our most powerful tool is our stories. I’m convinced these amazing 50 Women Can really change the world.

Lexi Jackson Proves the Future Is Female!

Lexi Jackson Lexi Jackson, a sophomore at Washington University in St. Louis, already knows that the only way to affect change is to engage – and wow – has she engaged! She was recently chosen to participate in a Washington University student panel providing commentary of the State of the Union Address on ABC News. She was poised, articulate, and on message throughout Before the President’s Address began, she shared her concerns on how the tax bill undermines the Affordable Care Act. She hoped President Trump would address the issue and follow up with a plan to navigate the elimination of the tax penalty and how to keep health care premiums down, mitigating costs for families who are impacted.
As if that weren’t impressive enough for the young business strategy/political science student, ABC News followed up the next day saying that the executive producers were impressed and invited Lexi to write a SOTU response column for their website the day after the address. “I considered it a blessing from God, to have the opportunity to share my remarks on a national forum and transparently discuss my family’s story,” she said.
Her commitment to keeping health care costs affordable isn’t just an issue for Lexi, it’s personal. As she wrote, “Five years ago, I awoke to the news that my father had been in a severe car accident. He had experienced significant physical injuries and nerve damage. Ultimately, the accident would render him disabled, eligible for disability payments and Medicare coverage. My family’s journey since that day has been filled with more unpredictability and change than we could have ever imagined. Life sped up significantly and we began to understand the importance of immediacy and efficiency — both in the context of my father’s care and in the government processes in which we were now compulsory participants. Ultimately, we realized that there are some things for which you have absolutely no time to wait.”
Her recognition that time is of the essence goes far beyond her father’s story, and Lexi sees a number of issues in the world today that also need to be addressed NOW. That’s in part why she stays so busy. On campus, Lexi is the Director of the Olin School of Business’ first Diversity and Inclusion Summit, the Incoming Director of the student-run strategy firm Bear Studios, and an orientation leader. She’s passionate about the intersectionality of business and politics and the social impact that can be generated from strengthening principal-agent relationships whether they occur between legislators and constituents or companies and customers.Lexi with co-sophomores
The Diversity and Inclusion Summit, which happened on February 9, was quite an impressive undertaking, especially as it was the University’s first. She, along with two other sophomores, realized that the issues of diversity and inclusion hadn’t been thoroughly addressed in a summit setting, and they set their sights on creating an incredible event. With a keynote panel including Arvetta Powell, Director of Diversity and Associate Experience from Build-A-Bear Workshop; Emily Pitts, Principal of Inclusion and Diversity, Edward Jones; Susan Stith, Vice President of Express Scripts; Adita Akbani, Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer; and Kim Hawkins, Multicultural Talent Acquisition Recruiter, US Bank, attendees were able to learn a lot about issues in the workplace from the best and brightest in the industry.
The keynote panel was followed by break-out sessions, and “Navigating Microagressions in the Workplace” was led by Keisha Mabry, Adjunct Lecturer at Washington University and “Friendworking” Expert. The “Women in Tech” session was led by Kelly Lee, Business Program Manager on the Infastructure Team at Facebook, and Kirsten Miller, Compliance Manager with Uber.
Women in Tech“These issues really spoke to me, and to the two other students I planned the summit with,” Lexi said. “To me this isn’t political, this is a business and a human issue. I’m so glad we tackled this and had these discussions at Wash U.”
Lexi brings a fresh perspective to her work and her studies at Washington University, and stays involved to include that perspective in the overall narrative. “If you are passive about an issue or disaffected by your current situation, then you will never be able to change things. If you are holding out and waiting to get involved until you feel 100% equipped to do so, you will never be able to make an impact.”
“I’m engaged and keep myself busy. I think I’ve always seen each stage of my life as an opportunity to be involved,” Lexi said. “I feel that you should always take the resources available and see what you can do to assist others and actively make the decision to affect change and get involved.”
Lexi has always been surrounded by strong women, and they have admittedly served as an inspiration to her. Her grandmother, Dianne Elizabeth Osis, founded “Springfield Business Journal” at a time when the field was considered a boy’s club and women weren’t necessarily welcomed. Her mother, Jennifer Jackson, followed in her mother’s footsteps, and has not only continued the work her mother started, but successfully navigated the publication through a changing media landscape and grew the company in the digital realm. Since taking over, she also started a communications company.
“I didn’t realize how much my grandmother had done until her retirement party. She accomplished so much while raising her children as a single mother. Her story is so empowering and made me realize that I can be successful in business and politics,” Lexi said. “And then there’s my mom, who took SBJ in a different direction, integrated a digital platform, and started a new company while dealing with the financial and emotional strain from my dad’s car accident. I’ve never been more amazed by someone handling all of that than I am by my mom.”
With the groundswell of women of every generation speaking, and working together to bring about change, Lexi has great hope for her generation, and the mark they will leave. “I think my generation will elect the first woman president, and that is not an inherent women’s issue, but it is a symbolic gesture that will solve some of the disparities we see today.”
“I also think we are going to see a massive shift in corporate culture,” Lexi added. “Family leave will be normalized, because we’re seeing innovators in that space – in all sectors – and these innovators are developing maternity and paternity leave. I think that will lead to more gender equality in the workplace, and that people will realize that women can be mothers and have successful careers.”
As Lexi wrote on Facebook, she responded to the State of the Union Address in hopes that one day she’ll give a State of the Union address of her own. Today, looking at the unique pressures that her generation faces, Lexi feels it is more important than ever to engage. “I think that it’s important to make a difference no matter who or where you are. If there weren’t challenges, there wouldn’t be the incentive to speak out.  I have a voice, and I plan to use it.”
We look forward to listening. Watching Lexi take her first steps as a strong woman to impact change is inspiring. Women who make a difference are driven by passion and Lexi is already demonstrating that she has what it takes to change history and maybe even one day, deliver her own State of the Union Address.

Unleashing the Animal Within You!

Life Lessons on Leadership from the Animal Kingdom
By Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Janet Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik


I have worked with women and for women. I have joined a multitude of women’s groups. I have done extensive research. I have many women friends. I am a woman.  I have spent time researching, interviewing, and observing women trying to understand the female psyche and what makes some productive, happy, and satisfied and others not-so-much. After many years of trying to understand what makes women flourish I have come to the conclusion that there is no magic formula. There is no prototype that dictates success. What I have found, however, is that women can develop certain habits that contribute greatly to their well-being and to their prosperity at work and in life.
These habits can be learned and can greatly impact how a woman navigates the jungle of leadership and life. In my studies I have learned a great deal about how my counterparts function. Here is what I know about women:

  1. Women are strong.
  2. Women are sensitive.
  3. Women rock multitasking.
  4. Women take care of everything: children, home, work, men, aging parents, plants, pets, etc.
  5. Women hold grudges.
  6. Women don’t speak up.
  7. Women are afraid.
  8. Women don’t realize their own strengths.
  9. Women use the wrong measuring stick to judge their own value.
  10. Women lack confidence.

I have also learned what women do or can do to ignite their drive and passion and to unleash their inner strengths and improve their over-all life satisfaction. I have found many life lessons by studying the animal kingdom. The symbolism I have found is (at best) startling and (at least) interesting. What follows is a brief synopsis of the life lessons we can learn by looking at the wild things.
The Elephant
I have always loved elephants. They are huge and stately. They have a quiet type of power that has always intrigued me. Of course, I have always cringed at the thought of any animal living in captivity and I believe all should be living free without cages or tethers. BUT, the elephant has taught us something about tethers. When a baby elephant is captive, it is tethered with a rope to a stake in the ground. The baby elephant is kept in its place with this length of rope which allows the elephant a limited amount of space to roam. As the elephant grows it remains tethered by a length of rope to a stake in the ground. It does not try to break free although it obviously could if it tried. The fact is, the elephant learned from an early age that it could not free itself and it has held on to that belief even after it has grown and is highly capable. After all, an elephant never forgets.
In my own life and in the lives of women I now know, I have found that we are often tethered. We are tethered to negative feelings about ourselves, our self-worth and our capabilities that were delivered to us as children. These messages may have been sent by our parents, our teachers, the media, or even fairy tales. Maybe they were delivered in young adulthood through toxic relationships or experiences that challenged us. These messages of helplessness and inability grab on and hold tight. As adults this tether continues to restrain us, to hold us back, as these messages play over and over in our heads and in our hearts. Successful women have identified their tethers and have used their strength to break free from them and to move forward away from that which is holding them back and ‘keeping them in their place’.
 The Giraffe
The giraffe with its long legs and long neck teaches us about the importance of vision. The giraffe’s ability to reach high, to see the layout of the land, and to nourish itself from sustenance that few others can attain is an important lesson. As women   move into the world of entrepreneurism and leadership, they need to see beyond their immediate surroundings. Successful, productive women look at the big picture, see the potential struggles and ready themselves with foresight and knowledge to manage what lies ahead. They reach. They stretch. They stick their neck out!
Another worthy observation about the giraffe is the fact that its strength is also its weakness. The giraffe’s long-leggedness and long neck make drinking water a challenge for the giraffe. She, like us, must learn to accommodate for challenges in life. She doesn’t give up drinking water or she will die. She learns to bend and to find ways to meet this difficult challenge, all the while maintaining her balance and grace.
The giraffe also teaches us about strength. When the mother giraffe gives birth, her baby drops to the ground and immediately struggles to stand. Once standing, it tries to nurse. Instead of feeding her newborn, the giraffe kicks her baby and knocks her down. The baby gets up and gets kicked again. Although this sounds cruel, mom knows better. She is teaching her baby to be strong, to get up, to fight, and to succeed. If she doesn’t do this, she knows her baby will not be strong enough to survive the challenges ahead. What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, right? Successful women use their struggles as opportunities to be brave and to grow!
The Owl
When we think of the owl, we immediately think of wisdom. The wise old owl reminds us to think. Along with the habit of thinking things through is another habit that successful women possess. That is trusting intuition. Women have a unique gift called intuition. I have found that women who ‘trust their gut’ and can ‘read between the lines’ have a leg-up over others. If it doesn’t feel right, it most likely is not right. Do your homework but trust your intuition.
The owl also brings to mind the meaning of OWL in our texting world…Obsessed With Learning! Every successful, productive woman must be obsessed with learning. Always be in the know if you want to be on the cutting edge. Read. Read. And read some more. Network. Learn from others. Do your research. Know what is coming. Know your competition.
The Canary
Do your recall why miners took canaries into the mines? The other day I was about to turn on the cleaning cycle in my oven and noticed the manual told me to remove any birds from the environment because the toxic fumes from the stove might kill them! Besides being obviously alarmed at what these fumes might do to me, it brought to light the effects of toxicity in our lives. The canary teaches us the importance of ridding our environments of toxicity. Successful women know the value of surrounding themselves with positive, uplifting, supportive people.  Toxic relationships only hamper our success and our happiness. Strong, successful women do not continue to maintain toxic relationships. They quickly deliver the message to step up or step out! They join networking groups that are supportive and energizing. They socialize with others who are like-minded and respect and encourage them.
The Zebra
Zebras are amazing animals. Along with their obvious beauty is their uniqueness. Did you know that every zebra sports a striped pattern unlike every other? Just like our fingerprints, their stripes set them apart from each other. Although each one is uniquely different, zebras have developed a habit that serves them very well! They huddle together in times of danger to protect themselves from looming harm. They stand close together, leaning on each other to create a pattern of stripes that serve to camouflage them from potential predators. As women, we do best when we bond together. We are most successful when we use our strengths to support one another. We do not alienate each other because it serves only to weaken us. We need each other to increase our strength and our impact and our chance for survival!
The Camel
The camel teaches us about conservation. Her characteristic hump allows her to store fat and water and energy to maintain stamina to take that long trek across the desert. Successful, productive, happy women learn from this spirit animal the importance of caring for our inner selves. As women we often find ourselves running on empty. We multitask as we take care of a throng of things at one time.  The camel teaches us that we need to ready ourselves for the journey of life by taking care of our mind, our body and our spirit. We do this by taking the time to stop, to breathe, to eat right, to exercise, to meditate, to run, to walk, to read, to just be. Our success needs to start from within. Nurturing our inner selves should be our number one priority.
 The Tiger
The tigress is the spirit animal of sensuality and sanctuary. The tigress is a symbol of boldness and fierceness. The tiger tells us to be the master of our domain, to go for what we want. The tiger is in tune with the rhythms and motions of the jungle. When the tiger has something to say it roars! Like the tiger, successful women tread carefully and stealthily to pursue and attain what they want in life. They are deliberate. They think. They plan. They also have a vision. They speak up and they speak out! The tiger is also a creature that enjoys solitude. This solitude allows for time to plan, to review, to regroup, to set new goals, and to tend to the heart.  Be like the tiger.
It IS a jungle out there! As women we face challenges and struggles every day tying to manage multiple things at once. Dealing with family, work, personal issues and a need for maintaining a healthy mind, body and spirit can be a daunting task. A successful woman achieves happiness in what she does by developing habits that allow her to flourish and thrive. First and foremost is learning how to take care of her inner self. We can learn a great deal by looking at the habits of the animal kingdom. These life lessons from the wild can help you unleash your inner strengths and give you the ferocity you need to bring you the happiness and the personal success you deserve.

“Your strength gives you the ability to stand alone.

Your uniqueness allows you to stand apart.

Your wisdom inspires you to stand together.”

–Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik

Dr. Janet Rose Wojtalik promotes female strength as an author, inspirational speaker, and leadership mentor for parents, employers, and women of all ages. Her award winning research focusing on  the ecology of female leadership has supported her quest to promote strong women and girls worldwide.  She is a co-author of Leading Women: 20 Influential Women Share Their Secrets to Leadership, Business and Life. Her resources can be found at www.drjanetrose.com. Email: janet@drjanetrose.com.

Uniting Humanity through Music

Marina Arsenijevic

Marina

Marina Arsenijevic praises the United States for allowing her — a foreigner — to perform with two iconic West Point musical groups, spreading her universal message of unity and building bridges for the common good of humanity. Marina says that no other country in the world would have allowed her to do that. She performed her Emmy-nominated PBS program “Marina at West Point–Unity through Diversity,” with the West Point Cadet Band and Glee Club.
She has since become a US citizen and continues to give voice to stories that drive her passion through her music. An internationally famous classical pianist and composer, Marina speaks from her heart through the universal language of music to remind us that no matter our differences, “we are all one under the sun.” Born in Belgrade, Serbia, in the former Yugoslavia, Marina became passionate about piano as a child and had earned her master’s degree in music by the time the bitter civil war split her country apart. At the peak of the conflict, she sought to unify the separate peoples of Yugoslavia by combining Muslim and Christian rhythms and melodies that honored both cultures and all people. In the end, she had to flee Yugoslavia and was permitted by a special congressional bipartisan arrangement to enter the United States where she continues to unify people through her many concerts and compositions.

Mileva Einstein—A Modern Tragic Madame Butterfly

Mileva_Einstein BookMarina’s current passion is creating a musical play based on the book, Mileva Marić Einstein: Life with Albert Einstein by Radmila Milentijević. She first read the book in her native Serbian and helped get it published in English. Now, she is working on composing and producing a modern musical story, similar to the tragic story of Madame Butterfly using the connection to music the Einsteins shared. Albert, a good amateur violinist and Mileva, who played piano and tambourine, enjoyed performing together for guests in their home.
The most notable thing about Mileva, however, was her contribution to Einstein’s work, for which she received no public recognition. A mathematical genius, she converted Einstein’s physics into mathematical equations. Their partnership is demonstrated in Einstein’s letters to Mileva, in which he refers to all the major papers of the time as “our work” or “our paper.” However, the only credit she received was a share of the Nobel Peace Prize money.  Although Einstein resisted, the divorce decree awarded future Nobel Prize money to Mileva as her property. Marina tells Dr. Nancy how her countrywoman sacrificed her own career, a classic female choice, to avoid diminishing the history-making work in the eyes of the world. Marina also notes that Einstein produced nothing significant after the divorce from Mileva, his unrecognized scientific partner.
Listen to this interview for more of Marina’s personal journey from rising star as a classical pianist to escape from war-torn Yugoslavia, and intriguing details about Mileva’s contribution to Einstein’s work including the theory of relativity. Check out more of Marina’s current work at MarinainAmerica.com and on Instagram. Stay tuned for Marina’s musical and possible screen play, and tune into further broadcasts of Marina’s PBS program, “Unity through Diversity.”

Successful Premier at Sundance

Sundance Film Screening sponsored by AAWIC

Terra Renee with the Utah Film Studios Staff


 
Women Connect4Good is excited to have supported the special film premiere hosted by Terra Renee’s African American Women In Cinema at Sundance Film Festival this month. It was a great success!
Sundance Film Festival BannerThey screened Sinners Wanted, an independent film written and directed by Jimmy Jenkins and Joshua Jenkins and starring Clifton Powell, Lamman Rucker, Hope Blackstock, Beverly Sade and Roland Martin.
Jimmy Jenkins, Director, Gigi and Pastor Leo

Jimmy Jenkins, Director, “Gigi” and “Pastor Leo”


Utah Film Studios announced that they are getting an Award for the Best Program during Sundance! Congratulations, Terra and AAWIC!Film Screening Opening
Shania Brown Inducted into AAWIC

Shania Brown (12-year-old child prodigy) Inducted into African American Women in Cinema

We’re Still Marching and Making Our Voices Heard!

March
Right now, the next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each and every one of us to help author it by fighting for what we believe in – Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
In 2017, on post-Inauguration Saturday, 4.6 million marched for women’s rights as human rights in 642 cities on every continent on the globe. One year later, women recognized that anniversary, and once again took to the streets to make their voices heard. Proving that there is power in numbers, hundreds of thousands of women gathered in major cities and small towns around the globe.
Last year women marched to express their outrage in what The New Yorker described as a, “shell-shocked solidarity.” With hundreds of issues among them, headlines generally spoke to the core issues surrounding women’s rights, with messages as diverse as the marchers.

Power To The Polls

Rally
This year, U.S. activities focused on a power-to-the-polls theme, with a focus on registering voters and encouraging women to run for office in 2018, and especially in the November midterm elections. Women’s March organizers launched a #PowerToThePolls campaign, which focuses on combating voter suppression and making sure that all people who are eligible to vote can easily exercise that right. Reuters reported that March organizers hope to build on the energy felt by Trump opponents after his surprise election victory and channel it into gains for progressive candidates in November’s midterm elections, and they used the weekend to work towards their goal of registering one million new voters. The campaign was timely as events took place against a backdrop of political dysfunction, with the federal government newly shutdown.

ROAR Rally

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Nationwide, women and their families promised to use their votes to shift the course of American government during the mid-term elections. And in many areas where there wasn’t an official march, women organized and took to the streets as part of the #PowerToThePolls campaign to get people registered to vote and use their voices to shake up the status quo.

And We Marched…

Every event and gathering around the world had its moments, as energized crowds continued to work towards change. In Los Angeles, Viola Davis explained that her “testimony is one of poverty” and “one of being sexually assaulted.” She continued: “I know that every single day, when I think of that, I know that the trauma of those events are still with me today. And that’s what drives me to the voting booth. That’s what allows me to listen to the women who are still in silence.”
In New York, 23-year-old singer Halsey delivered a free-verse poem recounting her experiences with assault and feelings of powerlessness. Her poem closed with strong words of hope and encouragement that triggered an outpouring of support and gratitude from around the world. “We are not free until all of us are free. So, love your neighbor, please treat her kindly. Ask her story and then shut up and listen. Black, Asian, poor, wealthy, trans, cis, Muslim, Christian. Listen, listen and then yell at the top of your lungs. Be a voice for all those who have prisoner tongues. For the people who had to grow up way too young. There is work to be done. There are songs to be sung. Lord knows there’s a war to be won.”
In Washington, D.C. Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez emphasized the number of women running on the party’s ticket in November. “If the Congress, if the White House, if the governorships across America had more women like I see here today, we would be a much better America.”

We Marched With Our Male Allies

For many men, this year’s #MeToo movement raised greater awareness of the fight for gender equality and led them to participate more fully in the events. In Las Vegas, men at Sunday’s march said they felt an obligation to speak out about their gender’s treatment of women and stand beside women as allies. That’s good news because leading into the 2017 Women’s March, some men weren’t sure what role, if any, they should play in the day’s events. Men were “slow to support” the march, Washington Post writer Michael Alison Chandler wrote at the time, because they worried that attending a demonstration led by women would make them seem “unmasculine.”

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Pine Island ROAR Rally in Bokeelia, Florida

Will the March Be as Effective?

There was some concern leading into the weekend’s events that the movement that began with the Women’s March one year ago lacked the cohesiveness to move forward. Experts speculated that there were too many special interests and too many different messages to truly affect change. However, what’s important to remember is that it has brought change and done what it was established to do. One year ago, the Women’s March aimed to start a movement of women from all walks of life who would continue their activism long after they had gone home. In many ways, that goal has been realized.
One year ago, thousands of women threw themselves into activism for the first time in their lives, and the march events provided a rare chance to build a network of like-minded people. The networks that were formed in 2017 have grown and expanded, and the women involved remain active.
Jo Reger, a professor of sociology at Oakland University in Michigan was quoted in the New York Times as saying that the feminist movement, like other important social movements, has always had people coming together and then breaking apart. “We think it looks so chaotic and full of factions and what it really looks like is every other social movement. Often those factions end up coming back together later on.”
Whether you marched, registered voters, or supported your sisters on the street in some other way, it’s time to turn our focus to the polls, register voters and support women preparing to run. It is at the polls that we can truly affect change and create a world where women and men don’t have to march in protest, but instead live in a world where equality is the standard, and women are safe in the workplace, and in the community. Change starts now. Let’s work together. To make it happen.

A New Day for Women

by Dr. Nancy D. O’Reilly
Girls are Strong
With so many voices crying out to be noticed right now, it’s difficult to hear each individual message. Like everyone who watched the Golden Globe Awards, I cheered Oprah’s message about how Sidney Poitier’s winning the Oscar affected her as a young black girl watching from the cheap seats and how she is aware of the young black girls watching her today. For me, too, role modeling, mentoring and bringing up the next generation of women leaders is a strong motivator. But the most important part of her message for our times is her emphasis on using our stories to expose those who abuse their power over others. This power of our stories is what women are accessing today. If you listen carefully, you will hear one tale composed by many voices speaking all together, and as Oprah said in her speech, “women are the story.”
Now is the time for us to accelerate the momentum that began with the Women’s March a year ago by supporting #metoo and “Time’s Up.” We need to change the culture in permanent ways so these events and stories don’t fade into a forgotten history. This month Leadership Ambassadors Tabby Biddle and Elisa Parker are rolling out 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment. This Take the Lead initiative both inspires women storytellers who work behind the cameras in Hollywood and gives them the tools to rise to roles where they can tell the stories women and girls need to hear.
Women are stepping forward to run for office in record numbers, with pro-choice Emily’s List reporting last November “nearly 21,000 women interested in running since last year’s election, up from a record 920 who expressed interest in the 2016 campaign.” We have a mid-term election cycle this year and with so many veteran senators retiring, there are opportunities for women candidates to replace elderly white men. In fact, black women’s solidarity in the South is credited for defeating Roy Moore in the Alabama special election and the call is out for more capable smart women leaders of all colors to step forward and serve their communities.
The Millennial women I speak with inspire me. Unlike my generation, they refuse to betray their gender to lead as men. They step forward as educated, talented young women who expect the companies that employ them to satisfy their needs for fulfillment at work, challenges and equal opportunities for advancement. But they also expect that workplace to be led by people who look like them, with women in direct proportion to men, especially on boards and in the C-suite, where women are notably missing. Their vision is of people of both genders working together as partners with respect for one another’s skills and accessing all that is available for a sustainable future for all of us.
As special correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, Oprah interviewed a group of Hollywood activist women involved with Time’s Up, which they described as a campaign without a leader. Women can get it done without a specific leader. Their goal is to maintain momentum for women who cannot speak – because we have the spotlight. So far Time’s Up has raised $16 million legal defense fund to help plaintiffs get a lawyer. When Oprah asked if this movement was going to succeed in ending harassment and abuse, Lucas Film President Kathleen Kennedy said, “The time’s up for silence. We can start there.” Actress Tracee Ellis Ross said, “There’s a constructive fury for a resolute pursuit of equity.”
Yes, perpetrators need to gain an understanding of consent and respect and some men need extensive relearning. But the culture is still so toxic, there are many areas where even strong powerful women are still afraid to speak up. For now, let the focus remain on hearing and healing the women, rather than immediately shifting the spotlight to forgiveness and helping the perpetrators. Let the abusers feel uncomfortable for a while and listen to women. Reece Witherspoon paraphrased a quote by Elie Wiessel, “Silence helps the tormentors, not the tormented.”
I agree with Oprah and the other activist women that a new day is on the horizon. The time is NOW! I really believe we are ready to step forward and take charge of our future. Women and men are tired of feeling less and being used and ignored.  We want equality at last. In time, we can move forward to reconciliation and re-education. But right now, let’s reach out to support other women telling their stories, embrace this concept, open our hearts and souls to this new day, and heal together.

50 Women CAN Change the World

Founder See Jane Do

Elisa Parker

Media maven Elisa Parker travels the world to connect people through their stories. Founder and host of the radio show, See Jane Do, she is a dedicated activist for women, social justice and the environment, which is why she became a Take the Lead Ambassador almost two years ago and co-launched the initiative, 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment with fellow Ambassador Tabby Biddle.  Elisa says that 50 Women Can is a game changer, as media creates how women and girls see themselves in our culture. To write a new history for women’s leadership, the storytellers have to be women, telling stories to empower women and show them how they can use their intrinsic power.

Feminine Power

Elisa’s own story about redefining power came when she left her high-paying job and had to become reliant on her husband’s income. She suddenly had to re-evaluate her value and self-worth. As a result, when she created See Jane Do, she sought to share stories to help women identify their own self-worth without regard to position and income and base their leadership potential on more intrinsic qualities. Now, she says we’re at a paradigm shift and are redefining the essence of power: power can be love, relationships and shared resources. Women increase their power when they come together and support one another to work toward the same goal. It’s about power with and power to, not about power over.
That is the momentum behind 50 Women Can Change the World in Media and Entertainment. As a Take the Lead Initiative, 50 Women follows a format where 50 women are nominated to be THE women in their field that can change the world to help achieve gender parity by 2025 (the mission of Take the Lead). Dr. Nancy put the support of WomenConnect4Good, Inc. behind the Media and Entertainment initiative to help transform the way women and girls see themselves. Until the stories about women are told by women, we remain stuck in the patriarchal system that holds women back.

The Progress of 50 Women Can

Elisa is very excited about the progress and the way this initiative works. The 50 women are just now being notified if they were selected, and Elisa credits the advisory committee with helping to produce an incredible cross section of women. Specifically, they wanted to choose from those women who have the most influence in shaping the story, which includes being able to develop, support and fund the content. In other words, they wanted to bring together women who are really making the decisions for female-led and female-centered content. Representatives ranged from executives representing most of the major networks, to women who have their own production studios, who are producers, directors, writers, cinematographers, and so on. The group is diverse, and ranges throughout ages, abilities and races. In the end, there were at least 40% women of color, as opposed to the 12% that represents the industry at large.
The selection process is only the beginning. The goal is for these 50 women to put their expertise in one place and use it to change the dynamics of the stories that show women what they can be. In this interview, Dr. Nancy talked about “Hidden Figures” and what it meant to budding girl-scientists. In fact, there were many women’s voices speaking out this year in the kind of unison that gets things done.

Perfect Timing

With the #Metoo movement, Elisa said that she feels like they are embracing the controversy at this very moment. However, she also stressed that they need their “man fans,” and count among their partners male advocates that are helping as well. As they move forward into their next phase, they will fine tune the program. The 50 women will most likely break out in smaller groups to co-create something together. What they will do will ultimately be determined by them.
Stay tuned for announcement of the winners and more about the progress. Listen to this interview for more inside stories about how Elisa and Gloria met, and how Tabby Biddle and Elisa came to launch 50 Women. Check out the interviews and other posts on See Jane Do,  and more. These are exciting times, and Elisa and Dr. Nancy both urge you to participate. Women can do anything together.
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2018 To Be Another “Year of the Woman”

Women's Rights are Human Rights“You have to act as if it were possible to radically change the world. And you have to do it all the time.”Angela Davis
While 2017 was a tough year, it was also one of a great deal of progress. It was in 2017 that women made their voices heard in unprecedented numbers. From the Women’s March on Washington to the floodgates opened with the #MeToo movement, women are proving that they are no longer willing to remain silent, and the momentum of change is fast and far reaching.
TIME Magazine named “The Silence Breakers” as the magazine’s Person of the Year, in a nod to the women coming forward to accuse powerful men of sexual harassment and assault, and not only for the global conversation, but the movement they began. Stephanie Zacharek, Eliana Dockterman, and Haley Sweetland Edwards write in TIME that, “This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight. But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries. Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don’t even seem to know that boundaries exist. They’ve had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can’t afford to lose. They’ve had it with the code of going along to get along. They’ve had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.”
While the fight for equality, justice and dignity for women started with the suffragettes, the events of this past year have made a similar impact, and women are taking their message to the streets, the internet, and the workplace. Retired US Senator Barbara Boxer writes in USA Today, “As we say goodbye to the chaos of 2017 and its seemingly never-ending turmoil about…well everything…I believe it is possible, maybe even probable, that we will see 2018 turn into another Year of the Woman.”
Senator Dianne Feinstein agrees and has also been quoted as saying that 2018 could be another big year for women. Predicting that female candidates could sweep elections across the country, she recently told party officials at the California Democratic Party Executive Board meeting that, “Based on what I see out there that we are going to have another Year of the Woman.”
“What it means is that we have an opportunity to really turn this next year into a year of change affecting women,” she added.
So how can we best position ourselves to help make that change? Here are a few places we could start.
Support the women speaking out. As Melinda Gates writes in TIME, “2017 is proving to be a watershed moment for women in the workplace and beyond. Instead of being bullied into retreat or pressured into weary resignation, we are raising our voices—and raising them louder than ever before. What’s more, the world is finally listening.” Right now, women are feeling emboldened by the actions of others to step up and say, “me too” and to share their stories. Many high-profile men facing sexual misconduct allegations right now aren’t denying them. The allegations aren’t limited to the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, or the hallowed halls of Congress. The problem is far more wide-reaching than one man, or even one industry. This has impacted women in every industry and every walk of life, and is finally experiencing the spotlight of public attention and, more importantly, action, it deserves. Right now, we need to listen to the women who are speaking out, and create environments that are safe for all women and men.
Support the women running for office. EMILY’s List, VoteRunLead, and She Should Run have all reported a huge surge in women interested in running for office. As these women muster their courage and support and take the first steps to run for office, it demonstrates that this truly is a woman’s time to lead. It’s important in this time of unprecedented female engagement that we support the women who are running, and those who have run, perhaps already won, already hold office, and are serving in their communities, states, and nation on every level. We need to celebrate the women who have paved the way, and support those who prepare to follow their lead.
Make your voice heard. Whether in the workplace or in the community, it’s up to all of us to recognize what makes us effective communicators, learn from our differences, and create a supportive, collaborative environment where women and men have equal floor time. As women, we can’t unlock our full potential in the workplace, in the community, or in our homes until we gain recognition for our ideas and build a world where equality isn’t the exception, but the rule.
Work towards gender equality. The solution to much of what has been coming out of the #MeToo movement could be solved by having more women in leadership positions. The problems we face today – from our local communities to the workplace, and the global stage – require diverse leaders who have a variety of skill sets. Women bring the additional skills needed, as well as a different perspective to drive effective solutions. In short, female leaders change the game. By recognizing that we do indeed need more women in leadership, and working together to help women gain confidence and the skills they need to overcome barriers and reach their goals, we truly can change the world into one of 50/50 parity, where both genders value each contribution and shed the harmful effects of living in a male-dominated culture.
In 2017 we have seen an unbelievable progress towards gender equality, however, we will still need to continue to fight and work hard to claim equal rights for women. That is going to take all of us working together, and joining forces with the women and men in our lives who, like us, feel that equality shouldn’t be a lofty goal, but a way a life.

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