Support for Girls Inc. Can Make Systemic Change in the World

When Jennifer Faust became CEO of Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara in January of this year, she brought with her over two decades of international policy experience, along with the advantage of having strong female role models growing up. She also had a vision for making sure every girl has the support she needs from the programs at Girls Inc. and the community to make sure their voices are heard, and they can lead wherever they choose to go. Jennifer benefitted from a supportive community during her journey as a female executive working in the male dominated field of global affairs and foreign policy, and most recently while being executive director of the Pacific Council on International Policy at University of Southern California. She wants to make sure the Girls Inc. girls also benefit from a supportive community that offers encouragement and equips them with the resilience and resources they need to become the future generations of women leaders.

Girls Inc. Inspires All Girls to Be Strong, Smart, and Bold

From its beginning in 1864, Girls Inc. national set out to do one thing, help girls become all they can be. The insightful women who founded Girls Inc. saw the need to support justice for girls after the Civil War. In 1958, Girls Inc. of Greater Santa Barbara joined the network of national Girls Inc. organizations, which serves girls ages 5-18 at more than 1,500 sites in 350 cities across the United States and Canada. Girls Inc. Santa Barbara partners with 79 local affiliate organizations to focus on the needs of the whole girl. As Jennifer says, “If you can see it, you can be it.” So they use the national research and evidence-based curriculum to create the Girls Inc. Experience that helps girls understand what they need to do to lead successful lives, following the guidance of the Girls Inc. Bill of Rights.

Girls Inc. Meets Challenges of the Pandemic

Jennifer said that the COVID pandemic presented a host of challenges. The girls themselves – of every age – are suffering from a loss of socialization. Pre-kindergarten girls haven’t experienced early socialization and learned to interact in healthy ways with their peers. And older, tween, and teenaged girls have lost ground in their socialization as well – floundering amidst the negativity while trying to figure out what they should say and do. While Girls Inc. Santa Barbara’s participation numbers dropped from pre-pandemic levels of 1,200 girls annually, community needs rose up in unexpected ways. Girls Inc. Santa Barbara has been a trusted resource for the families of girls and the community for 65 years, and when families needed extra support, Girls Inc. became a lifeline for many of them. Jennifer said that when a family member would call a Girls Inc. facilitator they knew for help getting food, perhaps there were language problems, or maybe just lack of knowledge on where to go for help, “We would figure out how to get an Instacart® to them. Then we followed up with them and made sure that they were taken care of throughout that very scary time and into the future.”

Jennifer’s Vision for Girls Inc. and How You Can Help

The experience during the pandemic of families reaching out for help, and Jennifer’s international policy experience have merged into “a new more intentional advocacy for girls and being the voice for girls.” She said that, “it’s going to take the whole community to support the rights of girls…the whole family and the whole community. And that’s how we make systemic change in the world.” Instead of relying on legislation or bills being passed, Jennifer said that the entire community needs to be engaged because it’s the right thing to do for girls and “because it’s going to take us all to make a big difference.”

While donations of money are always welcome, Girls Inc. relies heavily on volunteers, so there are different opportunities to support Girls Inc. throughout the year:

  1. Refer a girl to Girls Inc. Programs (https://girlsincsb.org/programs/)
  2. Volunteer (60 people are needed to help with September’s Beautiful Girl 5K walk-run event)
  3. Stay tuned for announcements of more volunteer opportunities.
  4. Join the member community for Girls Inc. This is a new program that will provide member ambassadors who want to be part of what Girls Inc. is doing.
  5. Connect with Jennifer on LinkedIn to learn more.

Jennifer said that she has a bigger vision of how the local community connects to the regional, national and global communities. When you see an issue locally, girls are probably facing it elsewhere. Jen said, “We’re in a network of sisterhood here, you know, what changes we make here can have positive repercussions in other places as well.

Listen to or watch this conversation to learn more about Girls Inc., the grant award they won to extend services to girls in their 20’s, and more of Jennifer’s vision for the role of Girls Inc. organizations in California to be on the forefront of change.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Empower a Woman and End Human Trafficking

Amanda B. Cunningham is Chief Operating Officer of Her Future Coalition and one of their partner organizations, Yoga Medicine® Seva, both of which serve the mission of ending human trafficking by helping at-risk women and girls to break the cycle of poverty that is the direct cause of human trafficking. Amanda says that the illegal sale of human life is truly a global pandemic, only topped by the illegal sale of drugs and firearms.  She quotes a United Nations report that states that there are more than 40 million human slaves in the world today—more than ever in our history. Yet, Amanda is hopeful. She says that the purpose of Her Future Coalition is to get to the core of the problem, which is the perspective that girls are “less than.” Through education, and other programs to support it, Her Future Coalition breaks the cycle of exploitation in India and Nepal, which is identified as the epicenter for human sexual trafficking.

Girls and Women Have Value as Products

Amanda says that it is difficult for those of us who live in privileged societies to understand the kind of poverty that supports selling daughters into slavery. She says that there are tribal communities in Nepal and India that celebrate the birth of a girl for that reason. Amanda says that what makes women so valuable is that unlike other products that can be sold only once, a woman can be sold 20 times a night. Dr. Nancy adds that the industry is equally prevalent in the United States, where groups have taken to the streets to contact victims of sexual trafficking and help provide a way out. Dr. Nancy stresses that it’s not just Nepal and India. It’s everybody and every person must say “No—No more” or it’s not going to stop.

Care, Share and Do

Amanda says when people ask her how they can help, she tells them they can care, share and do. When we learn about the problem, it’s impossible not to care about it and want to do something. So the first step is not to turn a deaf ear to it but have the conversation and care enough to start talking. Share the information as much as possible—in your family, in the community, and on social media. The more we can share, the more the problem reveals itself to the world and engages more people to do something. In Amanda’s case, when she learned about it she stepped up to do something, and it became her mission to use her business expertise and join Her Future Coalition leadership. For those who want to do something, Amanda says that it costs $30 a month ($360 a year) to send a girl to school. If that is beyond your means, share as much information as possible with those who can contribute.

Lift Girls and Women into Equality

Listen to or watch this conversation to learn more. Amanda says that we can all lift each other up into equality and erase the perception of girls and women as “less than” other human beings. Once educated, a woman may still be at risk for exploitation, but she will have resources and skills that are worth more to her family and society than the sale of her body and a lifetime of slavery. Amanda says that many of the girls who go through the program go into some sort of service for their community. All but two members of their staff in India are graduates of Her Future programs. Some women are actually becoming police officers to try to fix the corruption that has hurt women for decades. And they are also becoming OB/GYNs in India, a country that has no women obstetrical doctors to care for victims of sexual abuse.

Check out Her Future Coalition website for more information and to donate to future equality, helping one girl at a time.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

How Executives Become Waymakers for Workplace Equity


Tara Jaye Frank built a career as an equity strategist and teaching executives to become “waymakers” for workplace equity by listening and observing how people behaved and built relationships. She used that knowledge to become a greeting card writer at Hallmark Cards and used it again and again in multiple executive roles, including vice president of multicultural strategy, corporate culture and as a culture adviser to the president. For over 25 years she’s built her own bridge to success by being “really curious about other people and what they see, what they are motivated by, and how they build relationships and engage with others.” This has taught her about human nature and leadership, and given her the tools to advise and guide executive management to become “waymakers” for others. Tara says, “And here’s the thing of all the black and brown and women, the people who have been left out of the learning loop–everyone I know who’s made it to high levels of leadership in corporations have done so not only because of systems change, but because someone made a way for them. Point, blank, period!”


The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence

Tara calls her latest book, The Waymakers, an invitation to leaders “to get off the fence and into the arena.” She says that no one gets anywhere without someone removing the barriers to advancement, but she has found that while executives want to do the right thing, they don’t know what the right thing is, and more importantly they don’t want to make a mistake, offend someone and risk their professional reputation. They lack the “competence and confidence” to make the “bold and intentional” moves needed to truly achieve a more equitable and inclusive workplace. Tara says that she wanted to give them a way to do it, and also to inspire them to move forward.

When Dr. Nancy asked Tara what made this book different than all the others, Tara said that it is truly research-based. She did proprietary research asking employees what makes them feel seen, respected, valued and protected. Then she asked what makes them feel invisible, disrespected, and underappreciated. The answers showed what leaders do and don’t do to produce equity and inclusion. Next, she interviewed 30 of the top diversity, equity and inclusion professionals about what really works in their organizations—not theory, but real actions that drive progress. And most of all, Tara worked as an executive for many years and speaks “the language of power and position.” From her perspective, Tara says, “I seek to understand how the people around me define success, right? And then I very intentionally, very specifically help them build a bridge from where they are to where they want to be. I ultimately make a way right to that highest aspiration.” Her goal is for the book to become a tool for all leaders to become waymakers, and for it to help thousands—maybe millions of people reach their definition of success.

Learn Why Equity Is Taking So Long and Much More

Listen to or watch this conversation for more insights into leadership, how action differs from policy and what will really make a difference in the pursuit of equity. Check out Tara’s website for speaking, consulting and other insightful posts at tarajayefrank.com. And pre-order The Waymakers: Clearing the Path to Workplace Equity with Competence and Confidence from your favorite bookseller. It will be available in May 2022.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Access Women’s Contributions to History 24 Hours a Day

Susan Whiting says, “When we don’t include women’s contributions to history, we’re teaching a story riddled with holes.” Susan, who serves as the Chair of the Board of the National Women’s History Museum (NWHM), is excited to announce that after 26 years of providing online information about women’s contributions to history to teachers, students and curious people wanting to know more, NWHM is opening an interactive exhibit in The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Library in Washington, D. C. and will present a special showing of a film called “Mankiller,” directed by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl and produced by Gale Hurd. It tells the story of Wilma Mankiller, one of the five women on the new set of quarters, and the first woman to lead the Cherokee Nation. The event is free and open to the public, but you’ll need to register to attend.

NWHM is a reimagined museum, Susan says. Instead of going into a traditional big building, the Museum will showcase two areas within the MLK Library beginning in 2023. On the first floor, they will feature a special exhibit of the African American women in Washington, D.C. who have influenced social change in the U.S. On the lower level there will be an ongoing exhibit on storytelling, where people can research the stories of women in their families and record new stories of their own. The online component of the Museum’s work will continue and get even more inclusive as they add more stories of outstanding women who have been omitted and forgotten in our historical record. NWHM will access numerous spaces to continue its work recording history and preserving it for ourselves and future generations.

History of the Museum

Once upon a time, a group of women moved the statue of three women suffrage leaders from the basement of the U.S. Capitol to the Capitol Rotunda, saying there must be a bigger place for women’s history. The sculpture had been donated by sculptress Adelaide Johnson to the nation as a gift to celebrate the signing of the 19th Amendment, but it didn’t stay in the rotunda long before going back underground. The momentum of moving the statue started a long process of building awareness and working toward having a building to represent women’s accomplishments and contributions to history. Knowing they had to start somewhere, NWHM built a website to provide resources and information—curriculum for teachers, guidance in how to teach women’s history, and ongoing programs – many with special emphasis – throughout the year, like the COVID journaling project which gathers stories and even objects from women recording their memories of the pandemic. Millions of visitors explore the NWHM website every year. However, the NWHM board had always dreamed of providing a place where we all could physically gather, and they finally have it in a central location in our nation’s capital.

Susan’s Story

Being Chair of the National Women’s History Museum Board is a culmination of Susan’s entire life. She said as a child she was always looking for role models and examples of what she could do. Her speech therapist mother and several entrepreneurial aunts provided what she needed. She didn’t have a career in mind when she happened onto a degree focused on economics, math and science after the speech therapy department closed in the college where she started her studies. She liked those subjects and following college ended up in a management training program for the Nielson Company. She became the first woman doing what she did and spent a year learning about the business, how they created the ratings and built the consumer measures that fueled the television advertising industry. Susan says that she loves building new things and she got to build the early cable television industry. Even though Nielson was a large company, she says it was entrepreneurial in spirit. Eventually she had done so many different things in the company, headed so many aspects and developed so many relationships with top clients, that she became a candidate to lead the company. One of her entrepreneur aunts told her, “Susan, you know, I think you could be president of the company.” Susan voiced her interest to her boss, who was about to retire, and the rest is history, with top management as CEO/Chair of Nielsen’s global media business and then Vice Chair of the parent company. Now she feels like she has come full circle—working from her home on the farmland her family has owned for generations, she is helping to build something new and provide role models by uncovering stories of amazing women whose contributions shaped the country we live in.

Explore the Museum

Listen or watch this conversation to find out more about Susan’s 35 year-long career with Nielson, and her hopes and plans for the National Women’s History Museum. Check out the NWHM’s website (womenshistory.org) and learn amazing new facts about women who made history. For example, did you know that the first woman to run for President did so in 1870—50 years before women could vote? Her name was Victoria Claflin Woodhull and she ran on the Equal Rights Party platform, she was the first female stockbroker, and was oddly disqualified because of age, not gender. She was only 34 years old. There is so much more to see and learn, and so many women are missing from our textbooks. It will truly open your eyes to where women belong in history and should firmly stand, as leaders forging a better world every day.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

One Man’s Search for Meaning—to Lift and Inspire

Gary Lee Price is on a lifelong journey “to lift and inspire.” He mostly does this through creating sculpture, some of which are immense bronzes, like his 12-foot angel “Messenger” monument in Iceland honoring 400 early immigrants to the U.S., and smaller works of life-size happy children releasing doves outside of Hong Kong Central Library. He has created literally thousands of sculptures that lift humanity’s connections with one another, appearing in private and public collections around the world. But his greatest sculpture is yet to be built. He was commissioned to create a 305-foot Statue of Responsibility to be placed on the West Coast of the U.S. to marry the symbol of responsibility with the symbol of freedom on the East Coast represented by the Statue of Liberty. And now, he has just completed his first book, with the help of his wife Leesa Clark-Price, and friend and author, Bridget Cook-Burch, a memoir commemorating his journey to be released May 12, 2022, entitled, Divine Turbulence: Navigating the Amorphous Winds of Life.

Inspiration for Statue of Responsibility

The Statue of Responsibility was originally conceived by Viktor Frankl, Holocaust survivor and famous author-psychiatrist-neurologist. After being released from a Nazi prison camp, Victor hurriedly wrote Man’s Search for Meaning – in just seven days – to record his horrific experiences and accompanying thoughts that Gary says helped him focus on the positive. Viktor warned America in his book that freedoms were arbitrary and could be lost without responsibility. Gary cites page 132 of his edition of Frankl’s book, suggesting that the U.S. build a Statue of Responsibility to bookend the Statue of Liberty.

Once Gary was inspired and had an image of the sculpture’s design, he traveled to Vienna, Austria, to discuss his concept with Mrs. Frankl. She showed him a sculpture of Viktor’s called The Suffering Man, which shows man’s hand reaching to the heavens. Viktor was troubled by the sculpture and wondered where was the hand reaching down to help. Gary’s concept was vertically grasping hands, which visually depicted responsibility to him. He said, “It’s about us assisting each other, being there for each other, connecting with each other.” Unknowingly, Gary had provided the helping hand that Viktor wanted. Mrs. Frankl said, “You, my American friend, have created a sculpture that answers my husband’s question.”



Divine Turbulence—Gary’s Life Story

Gary says he feels a kinship with Viktor Frankl because of his own suffering as a victim, first witnessing the murder suicide of his mother and stepfather, then of child abuse when relocated to the U.S.. Fortunately, his first-grade teacher spotted his talent for art and praised him in front of his classmates. This positive support was followed by other teachers, but no one stepped in to stop the abuse. Gary says that so much of his tragedy as a boy could have been prevented if just one person would have recognized the importance of responsibility and done something. Through his book, Divine Turbulence: Navigating the Amorphous Winds of Life, and through the Statue of Responsibility, Gary hopes to bring conscious awareness to two things, “Number one, we need to have an awareness of what’s going on—a responsibility, if you will, in other people’s lives…and be there for each other.”

Stories of Surviving and Thriving

Listen to or watch this conversation to learn more of Gary’s ideas about how his attitudes and spirit of humanity helped him to survive a tumultuous youth, and how that syncs with Viktor Frankl’s ideas. Gary’s wife, Leesa also adds that all the proceeds from Divine Turbulence go to support the Statue of Responsibility Foundation. Keep an eye out for Gary’s book release, and check out more of his sculptures at https://garyleeprice.com/. And be sure to visit The Statue of Responsibility Foundation website where you can see Gary’s design and purchase smaller versions of the statue to help the Foundation achieve their mission of building the symbol of responsibility needed to remind us that freedom isn’t free.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Why Trusting Your Intuition Will Help You Make an Impact

Kelli Thompson is a leadership coach on a mission to help women advance to the rooms where decisions are made and show them how trusting their intuition will help them align their career with their values. For over a decade Kelli worked in tech and banking, which are both dominated by men. Often as one of very few women in the room, she accepted the established way men do business as the way things were done. Who was she to try to change it? It wasn’t until she discovered mastermind groups and supportive women working together and answering each other’s questions that she developed a new way of looking at leadership and business. Now, she has written the book she says that she needed to read, Closing the Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck. And she has coached hundreds of other women through her Clarity & Confidence Women’s Leadership Program, and won a Stevie Award for Women in Business—Coach of the Year.

Choose to Do Something Different

The way Kelli felt as a woman in a male dominated business she says is the greatest barrier for women today. She believes that it’s almost like there is “a sense of learned helplessness.” When women look at the higher-level jobs and the hours the men work to do those jobs, they don’t even try to advance. Kelly encourages her clients to think about how they can change the workplaces as they accelerate into leadership. She says, “When women have the courage to lead in alignment with their values and create the workplace that they actually want to work for, and not just move up the chain and just kind of do what’s always been done…we can change the world by changing the workplaces.”

Closing the Confidence Gap

Kelli touches on several ideas she covers in her book, Closing the Confidence Gap: Boost Your Peace, Your Potential & Your Paycheck, that’s coming out this fall, and one that many women don’t want to discuss is money. Kelli says the opposite is true. When she was an HR professional, she wanted to talk about money. She says that money ought to be as easy to talk about as the weather. And she warns about trying to rationalize a little bit lower salary to make up for lack of experience. She says that men don’t do that, but women often do. She gives several pointers:

  1. Do your research, check out websites like payscale.com and glassdoor.com
  2. Take a lesson from men who negotiate pay four times as often as women
  3. Don’t hinge your salary requirements on ticking off every bullet
  4. Don’t use your current salary as a baseline because it’s probably already lower than a man’s

Finally, and most of all, Kelli says, “I want you to ask for what you deserve.” Women make wonderful leaders, and the reason is the way they intuitively know what people want. She says, “Your body is so trustworthy, it knows what’s right for you in terms of your yes and your no because it’s kind of where your values live. Our values are the language, but our gut is the barometer, the CEO of what’s right and wrong.”

More Women Leaders Create More Women Leaders

Listen or watch this amazing conversation for more insights from both Kelli and Dr. Nancy about women in leadership. Kelli says the time is now to create change. She says that no matter what you hear about workplaces in this post-pandemic world, “the companies who are valuing diversity, flexibility, catering to all the needs of people who’ve been impacted the most by the pandemic do not have a talent problem.” People want to work for these companies. Learn more about Kelli’s advice on her website, KelliRaeThompson.com and her book, ClosingtheConfidenceGap.com.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

A Vision of the New Normal-The Future of Work and Wellbeing

Tiffany Shlain is a filmmaker, writer, speaker, and artist, whose creativity has been recognized with over 80 awards including being honored by Newsweek as one of the Women Shaping the 21st Century. Tiffany’s innovative genius shows in how she approaches a new idea by examining it thoroughly in terms of where we have been, where we are going, why we do things and how we do them. With that information she invents something new and makes a film about all she has learned, or in the case of 24/6: Giving Up Screens One Day a Week to Get More Time, Creativity, and Connection, she writes a best-selling book. 24/6 explains how taking a Shabbat from screens one day a week gives us the time for the reflection we need to express greater creativity and productivity. The result is to share a new perspective about how to view ourselves and our humanity, and use it to live better lives, engage our own creativity and lift everyone else with us.

Her newest project is a program for businesses and organizations of all sizes. The Future of Work and Wellbeing is Tiffany’s answer to our confusion about what the “new normal” in the workplace looks like. For Tiffany and her team at Let It Ripple Film Studio, it’s not a new normal. For several years they have been using a hybrid model for work, and this program is their solution for achieving productive fulfilling ways of working based on their own pre-pandemic experience.

Tiffany points out that pandemics have historically shaken up society in ways that produced positive outcomes. After the Bubonic Plague killed 25 million people, the Renaissance happened; after the 1918 Spanish flu killed millions of people, social movements made several advancements including women’s right to vote. Today COVID has killed over 6 million and counting, with social justice initiatives – like Black Lives Matter – exploding everywhere, and so many women leaving the workplace, it’s being called “The Great Resignation.” Tiffany says that our old model of work being the focus of our lives and our identity is an unhealthy way of life. It took a pandemic to make us see it and question the way we’ve been doing business.  The result is a program to help organizations–managers and employees–adapt for greater productivity, employee retention and sustainability.

The Future of Work and Wellbeing

Amazed at the thought that companies would entertain the idea that you don’t have to work at the office, Tiffany and her team realigned a lot of the work they’d already done—”films about the neuroscience of rest, productivity, creativity, meaning, purpose”—and created a four-week program based on Tiffany’s own working-mom strategy where on Monday, Wednesday and Friday she works at home, and on Tuesday and Thursday, she and her team go in to their studio to collaborate. She has presented her program so far to Cliff Bar Company and Coco-Cola and is in talks with others. So far, it’s gone very well. For only one hour a week, sessions cover the broad spectrum of the history of work, and how humans have integrated it into their lives for greater productivity at work and fulfillment. Of course, it includes the concept of Shabbat, common among all the world’s religions and ways of life, to take a break from screens and recharge from Tiffany’s book, 24/6, along with other facts about how we can prevent burnout and other stressors affecting people now.

The Evolution of 24/6’s Impact on People’s Lives

24/6 Book CoverOur previous podcast post on 24/6 called it “memoir meets neuroscience meets visions of the future.” Tiffany was called a visionary by some and a prophet by others and the book won the Marshal McLuhan Outstanding Book Award. But the true genius is how Tiffany and her husband realized they were losing connections with people through their addiction to screens and began a practice of taking a tech-Shabbat 13 years ago. She and her husband both worked in technology, so it was revolutionary for them to voluntarily unhook for 24 hours once a week and read books, garden, cook, have family dinners, and talk without texting. Shabbat not a new idea. Once again, Tiffany examined the history of what has worked for humanity, applied that to today’s needs, and provided a cure for an unhealthy way of life. COVID created a situation where we were on our screens more than ever and many of us complained of screen overload and were burning out. Then Tiffany says she saw a new trend, “Last summer, all these business articles started being written about the book from a time management strategy. It was the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post.” To Tiffany it was obvious, when you set work totally aside and think about other things, she says, “I can recharge and rejuvenate in a very profound way.”

Inspiration for Personal Innovation

Listen to or watch this conversation to learn more of Tiffany’s story and what she credits with giving her a foundation for such creative work, including recovering from public and massive failure, amazing parents who made her feel loved, and inventing the Webby Awards when only 1% of people were on the internet to say “Good job” to web designers. Then check out her new program to create a new, healthier more productive concept of the modern workplace, The Future of Work and Wellbeing. And while you’re exploring Tiffany’s work, watch some of her films, 50/50: Rethinking the Past, Present and Future of Women + Power to discover how phenomenal women’s leadership truly is, her Emmy-nominated original film series, The Future Starts Here, and buy her book, 24/6. Be ready to be inspired and exercise your own genius in a fully recharged uplifted space.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Taking on Major League Challenges to Empower Women

Michele Meyer-Shipp has a career full of pivots with four core principles: build relationships wherever you go, seek out challenges that make you learn and grow, ask for what you want (including frequent feedback) and access the “power of the collective.” All of this has directed her career from law into human resources and DEI management through different industries into the highest position a woman has held in Major League Baseball (MLB), serving as Chief People and Culture Officer leading MLB’s Human Resources, Office Operations and Facilities and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion teams for all 30 major league clubs and 120 minor league clubs. Each MLB team, she says, acts like an individual business entity, each with its own marketing, personnel issues, and profit-loss activities. Michele notes that she started this job at the beginning of the season, just after the pandemic hit, and at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement following the death of George Floyd. Navigating the shut down in a very public business on a nationwide scope required all of her skills as a C-suite executive and culture strategist, plus she had to check Twitter and read the paper every day to see if some little episode was misinterpreted by the public.

Major League Baseball HR, DEI Strategy

Moving from finance to professional sports was risky and the high energy of the MLB gave her goosebumps. Fortunately, she says the amazing people on her HR, DEI and operations team were built-in mentors for working across all teams. Following her own adage of “You don’t know what you don’t know”, she listened, learned and engaged the power of her collective HR team, then developed relationships with some of the owners and the team HR and DEI leaders. She says that several teams were doing some form of DEI work, but there was no strategic operating model for all of them. She developed a strategy of three pillars to pull them altogether:

  1. Talent sourcing pillar
  2. Culture pillar
  3. External facing pillar

It gave everyone a lens through which to see their work and assess where they were excelling or falling short. They could also share their best practices with one another, which improved everyone’s strategy. Pulling together this nationwide collaboration with their collective experience and drive was truly powerful.

Next Pivot CEO of Dress for Success Worldwide

February 16, Michele started a new job, overseeing over 140 affiliate chapters in 23 countries of Dress for Success Worldwide, with the mission “to empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and the development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.” She says her first duty is to go on a “listening tour” to understand all the things she doesn’t know. Now is a particularly challenging time to start in this arena, considering the pandemic has set women back three decades in the workforce. Michele says that the 25-year-old organization does more than provide clothes for women. “In fact, we provide a host of other resources for women as they attempt to job search or career transition or re-enter after a break in their careers…including all kinds of professional development, career coaching, job searching.” She says that it’s ironic how similar it is to the MLB, and she intends to enact similar strategies of pulling the affiliates together to share the best of the best throughout the organization. Just as her MLB assignment came at a pivotal time, so has her CEO position with Dress for Success Worldwide.

Listen or watch this conversation to learn more of Michele’s insight into C-suite leadership, how to navigate uncertain waters and traverse decades of different industries as a transformational leader taking on challenges to empower women.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Imagine: A World Where Every Story Is Told—And Heard

Jensine Larsen’s journalism career began when she was a painfully shy 19-year-old listening to the story of indigenous women whose children were dying from oil contamination on their native lands in the Ecuadorian Amazon. She said their eyes were hopeful as they begged her to please tell their story. She seized on journalism as a way to do that, but the inspiration for the online platform she founded – World Pulse – didn’t happen until after she heard the stories of refugees fleeing ethnic cleansing and mass rape on the Burma-Thai border. Amidst her hopelessness in the middle of the night came a vision of the stars as blue light unlocking women’s voices and “creating a cascade chain reaction of one voice unlocking other voices and circling the globe.”

But the internet wasn’t interactive yet, so World Pulse did not become an overnight reality. Instead, it became an award-winning magazine with limited reach. Jensine said that about the time Mark Zuckerberg was imagining the power of Facebook, she saw the same possibilities of connection in World Pulse. With no technological expertise and few resources, she and a few others “drew the rooms of the website” and she went door to door asking women to invest, which they did in $50 and $100 increments until she reached $100,000 and launched the World Pulse website. Then they waited. She said, “Soon the voices started logging on from all different countries of the world in situations of conflict, post-election violence, really remote rural areas. And they were crying out.” There was relief in their voices that they finally had a safe place to tell their stories. That’s when World Pulse was truly born as a sanctuary for women in danger who needed help. It developed its own culture of solidarity, and today has grown into a technological force for good, connecting 80,000 women and impacting 21.6 million lives.

From Telling a Story to Activism and Mentorship

World Pulse has a very robust safety and security response team and process for cybersecurity. They are quick to provide new pictures and identities for participants of their website when political groups or governments threatens their members. Jensine said that no one has ever been threatened for their actions on World Pulse, but many have become activists to help women in their countries and place themselves directly in harm’s way. One such woman in Pakistan was cyber-blackmailed and reached out to World Pulse with her story when she was at the point of suicide. Finding a community of women like her, she realized that she was not alone, decided to live and kept networking on World Pulse until she found lawyers and supporters. Today, she helps hundreds of girls through her cyber clinic for girls who are experiencing online violence.

World Pulse Goals

Jensine said that they have three main goals:

  • First, their long term vision is “to digitally connect half a million changemakers who impact a billion more.” While that may seem ambitious, their impact data shows that “when women leaders get enough support and connections, they impact 2,000 more.”  So they intend to become a digital leadership accelerator, and use technology for purposeful change. You can become an encourager. Read the stories and comment on them. Let the women know someone is listening. You can earn an Encourager badge by making sure every voice gets heard.
  • Second, they are working to raise the volume on these voices. Jensine said that they don’t get on the front page of the newspaper, so they are promoting them in media and forging more content partnerships to “give these voices the light of day.” They have also created an awards program to inspire women to tell their stories. Along with this initiative, they are building an “incubator movement lab to nurture the budding movements that are connecting across borders sometimes whether it’s around menstrual health or widows’ rights or disability rights.”
  • Third, World Pulse is partnering with Women Connect4Good and others to expand the mentorship program, providing a safe and structured way to build mentorship relationships.

What You Can Do

Listen to or watch this Conversation for more of the World Pulse story. Check out the website, worldpulse.com; read stories and leave comments to lift women up and encourage more stories. If you have an expertise that can help another woman, become a mentor. You could also become a change funder and sign up for an automatic donation of $10-$20 a month. Jensine says that funds go directly to World Pulse community members for honorariums, technology stipends or for their movement building work. She said, “Small amounts of money can have a big impact on World Pulse.” And everyone has something different to offer, whether it’s resources, time, energy or skills, technology offers a platform to become a force—your force for good.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

How a “Why Not” Attitude Can Awaken Possibilities

Dr. Jacqueline Sanderlin (Dr. Jackie) challenges everyone to adopt a “Why Not” attitude and aim high toward your potential outcomes. Dr. Jackie spontaneously spoke the words, “Why Not?” during a morning outdoor assembly of students instead of the usual admonitions not to run and push each other, and it caught on. Students began addressing her in the halls with “Why not, Dr. Jackie?” A student’s mother made a T-shirt with the saying and Dr. Jackie began “knocking on doors.” She says that she received more yeses than noes from members of the community. They reached out to help and her school’s students increased their scholastic performance by 80% in one year. The students began to feel important receiving community outreach from The Grammys, The Academy Awards, large companies, neighborhood businesses and even individual families. Altogether, Dr. Jackie says they created 350 community partnerships including those with the L.A. Rams, the L.A. Chargers, and the LA Clippers. It wasn’t all about money either. Walmart sent employees to talk about pathways to employment after school. A couple of gang members talked to the students about how not to follow their path. The connections exposed the students to a world outside of what Dr. Jackie calls, “their bubble,” and gave them a sense of importance and possibility that impacted their scholastic performance as well.

The Why Not? Challenge

When Dr. Jackie reached out to her community, she found that people wanted to help. “They said we would love to–but we don’t know who to talk to. We don’t know where to start.” However, the burden wasn’t just on the community, Dr. Jackie also blames the people on the education side for not reaching out. Her staff was stuck with age-old solutions of summer classes and more homework that no student would want to do. She realized that they needed inspiration, not more perspiration to engage the students, so they focused on their school and their own learning. After 30 years as an educator, and experiencing phenomenal success from her first “Why Not?” initiative, she wrote a book The “Why Not?” Challenge: Say “Yes!” to Success with Community-School Partnerships with ten practical steps to develop and sustain powerful partnerships with their own communities. As “Why Not” has continued to evolve, she also developed a consultancy that includes workshops for organizations to use “Why Not” in their own programs.

Not Just Opportunities, But Possibilities

Dr. Nancy says that “Why Not?” opens the mind to possibilities, not just opportunities. And Dr. Jackie agrees. Her initial thoughts were around why should our kids not have the resources of kids in other zip codes? Her kids, which she calls “scholars,” lived in very challenging conditions: some with drug addicted parents, incarcerated parents or no parents at all, homeless, living where she couldn’t dream someone could live. “Why Not?” elevated the entire community.

Listen or watch this inspiring conversation to learn more of the story. And check out Dr. Jackie’s Why Not Incubator at whynotconsulting.org for workshops to start your own “why not” process, and WhyNotIncubator.com for more information dealing specifically with empowering youth.

“Why Not?” enabled Dr. Jackie to create community and connection and to broadcast the conversation to a national audience. Check out her book, The Why Not? Challenge, for more practical guidance about how to use it yourself.

Listen on SoundCloud | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Watch on YouTube

Scroll to top

© Women Connect4Good, Inc. All Rights Reserved.