Linda Rendleman is a passionate champion of women, who says that her path began when she was a child and always wanted to hang out with the children who had less than their peers. Helping others was at her core, so empowering women and girls through various means became her life’s work: as an author, the Women Like Us book series; an inspired speaker, the visionary and founder of the Women Like Us Foundation, a global charity with the mission of transforming lives of women and girls who change the world, and most recently a transformational coach helping women rediscover their worth, gain clarity and healing from the past, and create their most confident next chapter.
Always forward thinking, Linda began one the first city women’s magazines in the country, “Indianapolis Woman,” and she started a website for women called, Business Women Connect, before anyone understood the impact a website that helped women network and share workplace strategies could have on the lives of women. After getting cancer, her life was redirected and she dusted off her dream of having a charity—a social profit that could transform the lives of women and girls and change the world in the process. She turned her for-profit into a nonprofit (social profit) and set out to help as many women as possible.
Getting Clear about your Mission
Linda says that early on in her work with the Women Like Us Foundation, she was very involved in sex trafficking and homelessness, but the overarching piece was always education. That was key in her own way forward, and she saw that as the path for others. However, they found themselves trying to change everyone’s lives. She said that, “you can’t do that. It’s like the story of the starfish. You know, you can help that one—throw that one back into the sea.” Then the foundation began narrowing their vision. As a result, she advises women starting a social profit not to waste time trying to help too many people. Narrow your vision until you have a clear message.
Now, Linda says Women Like Us works mostly in Kenya. They began supporting a woman who rescued girls from female genital mutilation (FGM). A tradition in Kenya undertaken by grandmothers and mothers to ensure their daughters are considered good marriage material. Linda says it is done because men don’t want the women to run away after they marry them because of their sex drives. They also helped a woman named Anne who started a school in the deep Rift Valley area of Kenya called Victorious Teens International. Girls eventually drop out of school when they start their menstrual cycle and are made to sit in dirt or the grass. Linda became close friends with Ann Kabui and was shocked when she found out the woman had died and was a victim of domestic violence herself. In the process of bouncing back, Women Like Us founded the Women Like Us Center in Nakuru, Kenya, to educate women on ways to transform their lives. They learn to sew and get a certificate so they can get jobs as domestics or start a microenterprise. They are also learning computers now; they grow vegetables to feed their family and have chickens and sell eggs. Linda says it gives her cold chills thinking about how happy she is for these women.
Women Like Us Book Series and Documentary
Linda wrote her books to share women’s stories. When we hear one another’s stories, we are inspired to learn more and support each other. In the 70’s and 80’s when Linda began her education and career, women did not support each other at all. They competed for the few jobs allotted to women and did not reach out to lift other women up. Linda says she was always a feminist and was outraged at limitations placed on women. Among her many radio and television shows, she also executive-produced the film documentary, Women Like Us. Three Journeys. One Mission. To Change the World, which follows three women through their travels, experiencing their personal journeys of adversity and evolution, along with witnessing the unimaginable social injustices women face around the world. She says that women she works with to support other women all feel like they are instant best friends because of their shared passion.
What’s Next for Linda and Women Like Us
Linda is reaching out to individual women who are wanting to understand their own next chapter. As an attentive listener, Linda is able to cut through the noise to hear the messages of personal stories that no longer serve us and need to be reframed. Check out her website, whatsnextforwomenlikeus.com for more information. And listen to or watch this conversation for more insight into Linda’s personal story and her rewarding work as a champion for Kenyan women and girls.