This Women’s History Month, I want to pay special attention to women leaders who are making history today. U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor is one woman who is not only making history; she is consciously and deliberately doing so—and telling the story.
In January, Justice Sotomayor released her memoir, “My Beloved World,” which provided an honest look at the life of an American leader. While her role in the government is often sanitized, and many people have no idea what the life of a Supreme Court justice is like, Sotomayor reminds her readers that she, too, is a human being.
Sotomayor comes from humble beginnings. As a young girl from the Bronx, she had to administer her own insulin injections. Both of her parents emigrated to the United States from Puerto Rico, and she lost her father at nine years old. At Princeton, she advocated for Latinos by setting up an action group for Puerto Ricans on campus and by lobbying for Latino professors to join the Ivy League’s ranks.
Even though her job requires her to remain dispassionate about her work, Sotomayor comes off a bit more emotionally in-tune than her colleagues. As the third woman and first Hispanic to join the Supreme Court, her individuality in the courtroom sets a positive example. Understanding her own significance allows her to advocate for the progress of other women and other Latinas who need someone of high authority to be in the public scope, to be visible—to be a role model who can inspire others to achieve as she has done.
Perhaps you want a promotion, or a raise, or you feel ‘stuck’ in your career?
Maybe you’re going on maternity leave or returning to work after a few years?
Or perhaps you want to talk to your boss about flexible working, or you want to get on the fast-track for a leadership position?
SWTTL is a live monthly webcast and community for women who want to get ahead. Our aim is to help accelerate effective change for women in the workplace by addressing key issues and creating real breakthroughs!
And our two organizations are modeling the kind of collaboration we think women individually and women’s organizations collectively must if we are to move the dial of leadership parity forward for women.
The yoga class I took just before last night’s State of the Union (SOTU) address wiped me out. I fell asleep immediately afterward. Which is good because I had a chance to think overnight about the parts that resonated most with me.
I’ve been tough on the president in the past, disappointed with his timidity and unwillingness to set a big bold agenda.
My definition of leadership is someone who gets something done. Read on for the inspiring story of Ashley Riley who saw something that needed to get done and did it in her Silicon Valley community. And watch, I think Fit Kids will be coming to a schoolyard near you soon-maybe because you’ll be the leader to make it happen.
As we all prepare to overeat those Thanksgiving goodies, what better time to promote kids’ fitness?
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought it would be appropriate to pay homage and give thanks to Ashley Riley, one woman, a busy mom of four children under 11(!), who is “doing it” – that is, creating a movement to bring health and fitness through active play to all kids.
I met Ashley in late August of this year. It was kismet – my good fortune. I had decided to look for part-time “community organizer” work, and she was looking for someone to help with her 5th child, her precious baby, Fit Kids.
Ashley founded Fit Kids in January of 2011 based on a simple premise that healthy activity and food should not just be for the affluent kids on the west side of the Peninsula but a right of all kids – regardless of ethnicity and socioeconomic or immigration status.
“Why?” Ashley pondered, “should a child born on this side of Highway 101 have different access to healthy activity and nutrition than their brothers and sisters in East Palo Alto and East Menlo Park (aka Belle Haven)?
The post-election buzz is all about how 2012 was a pivotal year, the demographic shift toward non-white voters and millennials finally kicked in, women finally exercised their electoral power, and yada yada. This is true, and we deserve to celebrate for a few minutes.
But elections come and go, pendulums swing, and no shift happens by itself—people have to make it happen.
That’s why social movements are forever, if they remain relevant and keep them. I was honored to be interviewed by NYU’s Margaret Sanger Papers Project regarding my views of the woman who started the American Birth Control Movement and the organization that would become Planned Parenthood, her work, and what I learned from her leadership. Here you go—let me know what you think.
Margaret Sanger Papers Project:Many years ago, you were a teenage mother living in Texas. Can you describe that experience and how it has contributed to your personal and professional life?
Gloria Feldt: I relate to the hardships of young parents. I have been driven by a passion that my daughters and all future generations of women should have the information, aspiration, and access to birth control and abortion services that give them the ability to determine the course of their own lives. Like Margaret Sanger, I believe biology should not be destiny and no woman can call herself free till she can own and control her own body. The birth control pill represented that liberation for me. It enabled me to start college and build a career. And to become financially independent–economic justice is the second factor, after reproductive rights, women must have to be full and equal citizens, but you can’t have that unless you can make your own sexual and childbearing decisions.
Recently, I sat down with Liz Dennery Sanders of She Brand who shares the secrets of successful branding with women entrepreneur, coaches and consultants, saying “those who put this secret to work in their business never have to worry where their next client is coming from.”
In Liz’s SheBrand SuperStar series, she features female entrepreneurs “who are out there in the trenches each and every day, making things happen and affecting other people’s lives for the better.”
To me, a leader is somebody who gets something done. And while we make choices about what level and responsibility we take on as leaders, I believe that the most important leadership values are honesty and courage.
I was honored recently to be included as one of the Top 10 Leadership Experts to Follow on Twitter. Career Bliss writer Ritika Trikha compiled the list, which appears below.
But wait. Something was missing. Mine is the only female name on the Career Bliss list. Surely there are many terrific women who are leadership experts.
Let’s create our own list of women who ought to be on this or any other top leadership expert list. I’ll start with Bonnie Marcus whose GPS Your Career is brilliant.
Share your recommendations in the comments! If enough are recommend, we can give the list a name and publish it as the definitive Top 10. Why not?
And if a leader is someone who gets something done, then LisaBeth exemplifies leadership too. She uses the power of her artistry to make a difference for the causes she—and YOU—believe in. When you or I wear one of LisaBeth’s cause pins, we’re also using Power Tool # 6: Wear the Shirt –showing the world what we believe.
I’ll bet LisaBeth would love to know what you want on your pin, if she were to design one for you. So tell her in the comment section below.
How do I know Gloria? Our paths were destined to cross, and they finally did back in 2004 at a campaign event in Pennsylvania. Having defined a mission of making a difference in the world over 20 years ago, I’ve always channeled my core beliefs into my work. It seems inevitable that my creativity and mission would manifest into a line of handmade pins for causes that began with a pin about CHOICE.
As an artist and activist, I realized that an art-pin could be like a mini-billboard for people to ‘wear their heart on their lapel’, to spark conversation, and to effect change.
Over the years, I developed cause pins for politics and voting, peace and social justice, women’s rights, the environment, animal rescue, and more. The pins found their way to many non-profit organizations that have utilized them for fundraising and awareness.
Executive leadership coach Ora Shtull understands the power of using your voice. In her lively guest post and the accompanying video, she tells women that it’s not enough to sit at the table; talk at the table if you want to have an impact on decisions and be recognized for your ideas. When I was writing No Excuses, I came to realize that power unused is power useless, and unless we are sharing our knowledge and ideas, they are not helping anyone, including ourselves. So, here’s how Ora tells it:
What is it about nines? Nine is the number of lives that cats are said to have. The Beatles sang “Revolution 9” on their White Album (in almost nine minutes!). And when you look pretty darn good, you’re “dressed to the nines.”
It’s no secret that I am a big admirer of Gloria’s work. Her rise from teen mom and high school dropout in rural Texas to CEO, author and acclaimed expert on women and power is nothing short of extraordinary.
Coincidentally and perhaps cosmically, I too have a belief in nine.
“Before I got pregnant, I was full-steam ahead in life,” said Carolina Pichardo, cofounder with Mary Targia of the educational and inspirational New York-based organization and website YUM (Young Urban Moms).
“I’d received a partial scholarship to New York University, after traveling abroad and interning at the New York City Public Advocate’s Office and Tor Books Publishing.”
But when she found out she was pregnant, the resulting harsh remarks and judgmental looks threw the slim, stately Harlem-born Pichardo off her track—for a while: “I just became angry. I didn’t know what to do with that anger, so I simply worked hard to prove those around me wrong.”
With some of the same rebel instincts that had propelled her parents to immigrate to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic—where her mother was a teacher and her father a doctor—she stayed in school through most of her pregnancy. She took a semester off after her daughter Lyanna (known as Lulu), now age 11, was born. Then she returned to earn her bachelor’s degree in communications from NYU “with leaky boob stories galore.”