Leadership

Telling Our Stories Heals Us

Author, Speaker, Media Producer, Social EntrepeneurTess Cacciatore is a storyteller who has won awards for her productions that tell the stories of people around the world. But her most powerful story is her own, and she tells it in her new Amazon bestselling book, Homeless to the White House. In this conversation, Tess talked about the discoveries she made on her journey from escaping a bullet in the Congo to singing “We Are One” on the White House lawn, and how all of it confirmed her resolve to dedicate her life to telling powerful stories to liberate and empower people throughout the world.
Homeless to the White House“Writing is a wonderful tool,” Tess told Dr. Nancy. It will help you heal, whether you write your daily thoughts in a journal or a short story, book or film. Her book took eight years to write and the telling was possibly more emotional than the experiences themselves. She didn’t fully realize how close she had come to death, while making a documentary in the Congo. Telling that story, and many others, created a laser focus on how she lived her life. It led her to examine the choices she had made that were not just mistakes, but created unhealthy relationships, lead to domestic violence and actually almost got her killed. Ultimately, she began to see all of the adversity that she experienced as a blessing, and that allowed her to progress to the next—and infinitely better—chapter.

#Reveal2Heal Cultural Movement

Tess’s mission as a filmmaker, speaker, author and social entrepreneur is to drive change by inspiring women and men from around the world to join forces and have their voices heard. Her story taught her three important lessons:

  1. Every story has value. Besides the healing you experience in the telling and relieving regrets, guilt, self-recrimination, or hateful grudges against other people, it can help others who are going through similar experiences.
  2. Forgiveness of yourself is first and foremost. She related that the blueprints we all carry from our youth, whether we’re told that we’re fat, ugly, stupid, lazy or whatever, have to be erased. The only way to do that is to forgive yourself. You have to do that before you can forgive anyone else. Complete forgiveness must take place before you can progress to the third most important lesson.
  3. Self-love is the most transformative. Tess said that she always felt that she loved herself, but she didn’t understand what that truly meant until she forgave herself and everything she perceived as being bad. That was when she began to see the world through different eyes, developed empathy for others and opened to all of the generosity and abundance that is available when your heart is truly open.

The Birth of GWEN

Tess said that the end of her book is really only the beginning of her story. Although she has always been passionate about human rights, the value of every human being, and felt outrage at judgments against others for being different, she rose to new determination to help the world transform itself. She founded The Global Women’s Empowerment Network (GWEN), a 501c3 that works with and connects to other charities to benefit women and children around the world. She also founded the GWEN Studios, a production company that utilizes the power of media and technology to enable people to share their stories and transform their lives.  Launching this summer, GWEN Studios is working with others to create a network to reach 250 million households. Tess wants to encourage anyone wanting to find their voice to reach out to her and GWEN. She plans to broadcast all kinds of content from documentaries, features, short films and TV series to a whole music division.
Buy Homeless to the White House on Amazon. And listen to this conversation for more about Tess’s story. Then check out Tess’s website and the Global Women’s Empowerment Network to learn how you can connect in these exciting initiatives to share, heal and transform our stories.

I Am A Superwoman

SuperwomanWhat an exciting time to be a woman! Everywhere super women are coming together to make a difference in the world. I am thrilled to announce that “I Am A Superwoman” and to add to the powerful voices you can hear at the “I Am A Superwoman” Equality & Empowerment Weekend.This amazing day-long summit and inaugural Red-Carpet Gala at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles both celebrates our progress and puts our combined muscle (men and women) behind the movement for the kind of culture change that will end abuse and violence toward women and children, global human trafficking and continued inequality. It’s time for women to step forward and lead this foundational shift in our culture and stimulate a re-education and recalibration of society for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

As part of my mission to support women through my foundation, WomenConnect4Good, Inc., and Take The Lead, where I now serve as President of the Board, I am honored to kick off the event with the opening keynote, and be a beacon for women to get their S on and accept personal responsibility to be agents of change at this critical time in history. The Summit is stacked with inspirational speakers and special guests who target female and male entrepreneurs, business leaders, executives and change-makers. The day will be brimming with new ideas and opportunities to brainstorm solutions and network with some of the most dynamic speakers in their field.

Get your tickets now for Friday, August 24, 2018. Basic attendance is $222. Enhanced attendance ($359) gets you a three-course lunch at the Beverly Hilton with VIPs, and the opportunity to get to know the special guests invited to share their passion and wisdom.

Equality and Empowerment Summit

Step out Saturday night on the Golden Globe Red Carpet at the international ballroom of the Beverly Hilton [www.superwomancampaign.org/RedCarpetGalaTickets/] and enjoy The “I Am a Superwoman” Red Carpet Gala & Auction. It will be a night to remember! Tickets include dinner, live entertainment, red carpet glamour plus an incredible LIVE auction featuring lots of celebrity memorabilia including the late Whitney Houston’s piano. The Schimmel was her pride and joy. It was the first piano she ever owned in fact she purchased it with her first royalty check!

I am so pleased to join SHEROESUnited, founded by my amazing Leading Women co-author Bridget Cook Burch in this effort to create change on a global scale. Besides the extraordinary personal insights and inspiration, “I Am Superwoman” Empowerment and Equality Weekend, benefits organizations like SHEROESUnited, a 501c3 organization creating a “Global Movement of Women Who DARE to Change the World through Love.” Sheroes are women who have done heroic things in extraordinary circumstances and become victors, not victims.
Please accept my personal invitation to join us, be a Superwoman, a leader for change. Put your S on and meet other powerful women and men like you at the Beverly Hilton in Los Angeles. Get your tickets here. Busy that weekend? You can still join the movement. Check this post and learn how to participate via social media. And to donate directly, click here.
I sincerely hope to see you there, August 24-25. I’ll have my S on!
~Dr. Nancy

Strategies to Create Social Change

Linda HartleyFrom actress and theater major to change-maker for lasting social impact, Linda Hartley’s path proves that life’s winding road will lead to your passion and purpose, if you listen and follow your heart. In fact, that is the key to successful leadership and finding fulfillment in your life’s work. Linda’s love for arts and culture lead her to acquire an MBA and work in the non-profit sector (social-profit) in several institutions, including establishing the first professional development department for Bard College, whose annual giving leapt from $375,000 to $1.2 million in the first 20 months.  Now, she has partnered with Vivien Hoexter to found H2Growth Strategies, LLC, and help mission-driven organizations—“social-profits,” foundations and corporations—develop strategies to improve performance, increase revenues and create lasting social impact for a more enlightened world.
Big Impact BookWith their combined track record, Linda and Vivien have helped more than 100 organizations raise over $1.5 billion to date. Now, they have gone one step further and written a book to help everyone put the strategies of great leaders to work on their own missions. BIG IMPACT: Insights & Stories from America’s Non-Profit Leaders shares ideas from nearly 50 leaders to help you cultivate and grow a plan for whatever change you’d like to make. Linda said that they looked for “common threads” among the advice, starting with getting to know you questions, like “What was the best and worst thing that ever happened to you?” to “What is the role of the non-profits of bridging the urban-rural divide in this country?” From these broad-based questions, they found 17 principles that provided common ground.

The Unintended Gift

One of the most outstanding qualities Linda and Vivien found in the leaders was a high level of emotional intelligence. Linda related the personal story of Leon Botstein, who had served as a staffer, and then long-time President of Bard College. His eight-year-old daughter ran across the street on campus and was killed by a car early in his career. He told Linda, “Rather than turning disappointment into tragedy and into an excuse for feeling like a powerless victim, I tried to recognize the unintended gift that comes from tragedy and failure.” Linda likened it to a prize fight, where you must have the ability to get back up after being knocked down. One common thread through the interviews were stories of personal tragedy and how those were used to propel their work and lives going forward.

Common Threads—Advice from Top Leaders

One common thread through this interview was how different it is to work for a mission-driven organization. Dr. Nancy said, the people are different because they care about what their organization does. They feel invested in its outcome. That was also one of the key points of advice from the leaders, whether it’s on staff or as a board member, they stressed working in direct service for non-profit organizations. Other key points were

  • Sharpen your leadership skills
  • Honor Your emotional intelligence and self-awareness
  • Look at work-life balance
  • Seek out and cultivate mentors
  • Plan for the inevitable.

That final point was very important to every leader. They advised to put a successor in place, so what you had built wouldn’t stop if something should happen to you. Even if that successor wasn’t picked by the organization, providing a system for longevity past your own service on a board or as the leader of an organization is very important.

Building a Movement

Movements are built by individual organizations partnering together. Linda reviewed the qualities that made organizations successful and how they achieved what they set out to do. One that she used as an example was the successful campaign for “Freedom to Marry.” In fact, that campaign was so successful, the legislation it promoted was passed and has dissolved since there is no longer a need for that social change.
Of course many missions to solve the world’s problems are more complicated and require many different strategies, one of which is development of the board of directors. Linda says that it’s important to have many different levels of expertise among the board members. Organizations seeking social change include social scientists; many include attorneys, marketing professionals, accountants, and others who can provide services the organization can’t afford to pay for.
For that next step—to build a movement—organizations need to come together. When they meet one another and find their common ground, they can plan actions to expand their goals. Board development, convening to leverage their power and funds, and planning were the three key strategies that Linda said they guide organizations to use.

Self-Expression Important for Fundraising

Linda began her journey with her love for the theater, which linked her with art and culture. She said that people give their time and treasures according to what they care about. It provides meaning to their lives and that’s how H2Growth Strategies helps their clients grow their missions. Listen to this interview for more stories and advice. And check out the H2Growth Strategies website for more enlightening information and details about the book, Big Impact.

Champions for Change

Speaker, Author

Trudy Bourgeois

Trudy Bourgeois urges women to become champions for change. Trudy is a renowned and respected authority on leadership development and founder of The Center for Workforce Excellence, which transforms organizations through focusing on developing leadership skills with an emphasis on learning how to develop talent across differences. She built her outstanding reputation by experiencing a lifetime of “firsts.” Growing up African American during segregation in the South provided her ample opportunities to strive for equality and simultaneously check each advancement off for herself and other women like her. She says that she is grateful for each of her “firsts” because they help her understand how to help people get to their next level and reach their greatest potential.
When Trudy was the first woman of color vice president in the tobacco industry, diversity and inclusion weren’t even business concepts. Women were told they were too collaborative; they needed to be more strategic.  Now, she says that we’re in the fourth industrial revolution where technology outpaces technology and we can only out-distance the competition by investing in our people—our most important resource—and bringing everyone together. Companies who don’t leverage their talent and ability to change will not be in business long in this new competitive environment

Equality Depends on Having Courageous Conversations

EQUALITY: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men, AND Race in the Workplace to Spark a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough BookIn her third book, EQUALITY: Courageous Conversations about Women, Men, AND Race in the Workplace to Spark a Diversity and Inclusion Breakthrough, Trudy describes “5 Brutal Facts for Obtaining Equality.” She lists the old paradigms that used to work for companies, including outdated leadership models where leaders don’t understand “how to manage the most diverse workforce in history,” and points out how most of the research has been done on men and most of the research that includes women, focuses on white women. Bottom line, although there’s a lot of talk about diversity, leaders are not held accountable for leading in inclusive ways.
But women can change all that. Trudy discusses how the pendulum is swinging back the other way from the 90% white male power structure to an awakening of the female spirit with the #MeToo movement. She says that for a long time, when women rose to the top, they didn’t want to admit they were women. They took on the male persona. But that is changing and organizations are gaining an appreciation for the natural skills that women have exhibited all along.

Women Must Reach Out to Other Women

Trudy talks a lot in her new book and in this conversation about how women need to step up as thought leaders and be champions for change with no apology. Women haven’t been told we are good. We need to do that for ourselves and for other women. She encourages women to reach out and “pour into another woman” whenever there is an opportunity. Reach out to someone who is not like yourself. She also urges women to listen and learn. In her book, she uses the example of how Marilyn Monroe gave Ella Fitzgerald a hand-up by sitting in the front row of her nightclub performances to get her career started in clubs that wouldn’t hire a black singer. We may never have heard the name of Ella Fitzgerald, or more importantly never received the gift of her voice without another woman using her privilege to pour into another woman.
Listen to this interview to learn more about how Trudy says women must come to grips with our own biases and work together for equality. Check out her social media pages, her website http://workforceexcellence.com/, read her blog at Huffington Post, and get her amazing book to learn more about how she says we can be champions for change by reaching an olive branch out to someone who isn’t exactly like us.

Hear Her Song Honors 20 Women

Hear Her Song Performers

“Hear Her Song” Performers at The National Gallery of Art

Carla Canales, Founder and Director of The Canales Project recently created “Hear Her Song” to celebrate and give voice to stories of women who are changing the world for the better. I was honored to be among 20 women recognized by the Project, and was beyond humbled at the inaugural presentation on March 18 at The National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

Presented in partnership with Vital Voices and my Leading Women co-author Linda Rendleman’s Women Like Us Foundation, an astounding array of songwriters, musicians, singers and artists created songs, performances and recordings to commemorate powerful insights into the nature of women’s leadership and the challenges facing women world-wide.

Hear Her Song Audience

“Hear Her Song” audience at the National Gallery of Art

Each woman honoree was asked questions about her story to reveal critical choices she had made to overcome obstacles and realize her vision of success. Jacqueline Suskin, The Canales Project poet in residence, then took that information and composed the lyrics to each song. Melodies were then added by emerging female composers under the guidance of Musical Director Kurt Crowley, best known as the music director of the Broadway musical, Hamilton.

More performances are planned, including one scheduled for Saturday, May 19, 2018, 7:00pm at the Hammer Theatre Center in San Jose, California.

Dr. Nancy’s song:

Maggi Castrey, Dr. Nancy O'Reilly, Jen Dethro at The National Gallery of Art

Maggie Castrey, Dr. Nancy O’Reilly, Jen Dethro at The National Gallery of Art

Without doubt, the clarity
of purpose comes like a divine definition,
feminine form to craft a foundation
for the finest feeling.
This communal consideration
collects between hearts that nurture,
under the care of each voice considered
and always reshaping myths that block
us from betterment. In unison
we find the balance, bright bloom
of equality that brings us
into steadfast union.

~Jacqueline Suskin, Poet in Residence
~Madeline Myers, Melody

Check out The Canales Project.com for information about future performances and a complete list of the 20 women honored in the project.

Hear Her Song by artist Rosemary Feit Covey

“Hear Her Song” by artist Rosemary Feit Covey

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.

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.”

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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Who You ARE Makes a Difference

Founder of Blue Ribbons Worldwide

Helise “Sparky” Bridges

Helice “Sparky” Bridges had it all – a big house on the Pacific Ocean, fancy cars, beautiful sons and an emotionally abusive husband – when she hit the wall. She fell to her knees and cried, “Stop the world I want to get off!” and a voice answered,” You can’t end your life because you are going to sing and dance and write.”Later on she also understood that she must also make a difference in the world. The fact that she couldn’t sing, had never danced a step or written much beyond a real estate contract didn’t stop her. She left home with a potted plant and some clothes and did those very things in spite of apparent shortcomings because of what she IS–outrageous.
Sparky realized that everyone just tries to be the best mom or dad or teacher, but what everyone really needs is to be recognized and loved, just like she did.  She created a symbolic hug in the Blue Ribbon ceremony in 1980, now called “Blue Ribbons Worldwide” with a goal of uniting humanity through the power of love and within three months 35,000 people were honored with it. Sparky’s goal is to reach one billion people by 2020. That’s one in seven people in the world, the mathematical tipping point for social change.

“Bing!” is the sound of making dreams come true.

With over 40 million people and counting, Blue Ribbons Worldwide is working hard on its goal to unite the world through the power of love. Sparky calls it the glue that’s missing from our lives. The blue ribbon she created says, “Who I Am Makes a Difference” and the ceremony requires seven steps, beginning with looking the person in the eye and honoring them for the qualities that make them special, asking permission to place the ribbon over their heart and for them to receive the honor, and finally “Bing!” to signify making their dreams come true. Each blue ribbon presented is followed by two more with a request for that person to pay it forward to two others.
Blue Ribbons
Sparky tells her own story and the inspiring stories of how the Blue Ribbon Ceremony made a difference in people’s lives in her book, Who I am Makes a Difference: The Power of Acknowledgement, Stories that Connect People Heart-to-Heart and Ignite the Human Spirit. One story on how the blue ribbon prevented a teen suicide is also featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul. That is at the heart of Blue Ribbons Worldwide, to end teen suicide, heal the world by helping one person at a time understand how much she/he matters. Today more than 40 million people have been honored with blue ribbons, but 2020 is only a couple of years away.

#BLUERIBBONCHALLENGE

Sparky says that people need to have personal connections and not be in such a “doing” world, but in a “being” world, where we can see each other’s hearts and the beauty in people. She is inviting others  to join her in becoming sponsors of a new initiative to train 40,000 middle and high school students to discover who they are, why they were born and the difference they make. The students will be honoring each other, honoring their parents and writing stories about it to unite the community in supporting everyone else’s dreams. Besides reducing teen suicides, bullying and the other epidemics that are infecting our teens, Sparky says that it will elevate education in America by developing social and emotional literacy. Instead of concentrating our efforts on conflict resolution, the Blue Ribbon Ceremony will focus on elevating our relationships to a higher bond of respect and love. To learn more about Blue Ribbons Worldwide, contact Sparky directly at her e-mail: sparky@blueribbons.org.
Listen to this conversation for more inspiring stories and to hear the 7-step Blue Ribbon Acknowledgement Ceremony from Sparky to Dr. Nancy. Check out Sparky’s website and ways Blue Ribbons Worldwide is uniting the world through sharing love with 40 million people and counting.Find out how you can help make it One Billion by 2020 at Blue Ribbons Worldwide.

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