If I were ever in the position to be a beauty queen (nope, not happening) and had to choose a platform I know exactly what I'd promote: anything that celebrates girls and women. It's not that boys aren't important and I have 2 sons of my own so I see a need for them, too. But this passion around girls and women has only been fueled in the last several years. It's as if I was a dry, thirsty forest and someone came by and dropped a lit match on me.
Two months ago I found out that I was a nominee for the Illinois Women in Leadership Award. They call it the *Athena Awards to honor those women who encourage, support, and assist women in reaching their leadership potential. Some of this just comes naturally, for me, by virtue of my job. Not only do I come into constant contact with young girls on the cusp of womanhood, but I have made a mission out of supporting causes that allow girls the permission of agency in their lives.
I support my local Girls on Track and have been a running coach as well as a keynote speaker at their fundraising events. Just last week I returned from my second Coca-Cola sponsored trip celebrating women. Online, I fight for that on a fairly regular basis especially in social media. I religiously follow Amy Poehler's Smart Girls at the Party.
What I'm saying is that it happens in a lot of spaces for me and I'm grateful to have an online voice that turns into real-life activism for women wherever it is that I lend my voice.
So getting this chance at being an honoree at the Athena Awards was pretty special to me.
Most of my work with the ONE Foundation has been focused on that and my trip, in 2012, centered around seeing what Federal Aid dollars were doing as well as what the Ethiopian government does in cultivating spaces for women. I've shared this video before, but it's worth a watch to see what ONE is doing for women.
This is work I am immensely proud to do and be a part of and my relationship with ONE continues to grow which makes me wonderfully happy.
Meet Us at the Intersection of Race, Gender, Feminism and The Internet
At the end of this month, I'll be on a panel and joined by some powerhouse women on a panel at BlogHer's 10th Conference discussing, among other things, how these issues of race, gender, and feminism intersect on the Internet where we all do some of our work:
Through all this, I remain as on fire for this work for women as I have ever been. Each time an invitation to speak is offered or a nomination is bestowed I wonder if I should bother mentioning it. But I've been a part of this work long enough to know that, while they are very nice, they are also somewhat necessary to building a body of work online.
Let these flames continue to burn in my life because there is no way I thought I'd be here, at this time in my life, doing such things.
*If you want to learn a bit more about the Athena Awards, this is directly from their website:
The ATHENA Leadership Award® was inspired by the goddess of Greek mythology known for her strength, courage, wisdom and enlightenment—qualities embodied in the ATHENA Leadership Model®. The Award is unique in both scope---local, national and international---and the ATHENA mission upon which it is based. The ATHENA Leadership Award® is presented to a woman ---or man--- who is honored for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. Since the program’s inception in 1982, more than 6,500 exemplary leaders in over 500 communities have received the prestigious ATHENA Award in the United States, Bermuda, Canada, China, Greece, India, Russia, Unite Arab Emirates and United Kingdom. By honoring exceptional leaders, the ATHENA Leadership Award® Program seeks to inspire others to achieve excellence in their professional and personal lives.
ATHENA Leadership Award® Recipients are individuals who:
- Have achieved the highest level of professional excellence.
- Contribute time and energy to improve the quality of life for others in the community.