#MeToo

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on October 17th, 2017.

“Do you find me attractive? If we were not working together would you date me?” This was supposed to be a work dinner, one I had tried to avoid for months. I tried to avoid it because I was warned by other women not to go, but I felt I had to. Correction, he made it clear to me that I had to go if I wanted to continue to have a future at Goldman Sachs. What did I know as a twenty-something in the 1990s that could prepare me for a master manipulator who had decades of experience on how to mess with young women’s heads? Nothing. Even knowing what I know now, nothing prepares you for that. Even as I type this now I feel like I am going to vomit. I don’t feel empowered, I feel sick. I feel scared. I feel ashamed. And yes, I feel angry.

I did not want to post this. Ask my friends who keep texting, messaging, and emailing me, asking me if I am going to share my #MeToo. I didn’t want to go there, again, as I have so many times before. But the bravery of countless women won’t let me be silent, and particularly the one whose story my daughter read to me yesterday in the car ride home. This young girl wrote a long post about her sexual assault, about feeling broken, about searching for wholeness, and I woke up at 4am crying. My life’s work has become about women’s empowerment, inclusion, and advancement, and in my gut I know that anything even close to gender equity will never happen in a culture wrought with silence and shame, victim blaming and bystanderism. Never.

“Tell me about your boyfriends,” it continued. Immediately, I flashed back to an earlier conversation we had had at a work group outing a while earlier. He had pulled me into a chair beside me and asked me to go out with him, alone, to talk about my career. I deflected, and said that perhaps a group outing would make better use of his precious time. He responded with, “What is your problem? Do you think I am attracted to you? Not only am I not attracted to you, but I don’t understand why any man would be attracted to you.” I remember it like it was yesterday.

Back at the work dinner, I ate as fast as I could. I deflected, tried to get the conversation back to being about work. When it did, it became about how much he could help me and mentor me, about how people at the firm did not think I was very smart, but he could help. I just wanted to get the hell out of there. He drank the wine and I barely touched my glass despite the insistence to “drink up”.

When we left the restaurant and walked outside I moved quickly to hail a taxi. His car was waiting for him and he all but pushed me into the backseat. I immediately announced my address to the driver, but we did not head downtown. When we pulled up in from of his place, he insisted we have a drink inside to talk more about my career. I said no, firmly, again and again. He was now outside the car trying to pull me out, and I was hanging onto the door handle on the other side. No. No. No. Finally, the driver intervened and said, “I am happy to drive the young lady home.” The door slammed in my face.

As we drove away I was shaking so violently and crying so hard the driver did not know what to do. The driver remembered my address, pulled up to the door, and said, “I’m sorry.” All night I sat up thinking about how I could possibly to go to work the next day. I wanted to call my mom, but she lived thousands of miles away and she would feel powerless as well. Was my career really over before it even really got started? At the time I thought the answer was yes.

I did go back to work. I did go on to have a successful career. I never had anything that scary happen to me again, but I was a different person after that night. Did I report him? No. Did I later learn he went on to do something similar, and worse, to other young women? Yes. Will I ever forgive myself for not reporting him? No.

There are people out there who will tell you that sexual harassment isn’t a problem. They will tell you that the issue was pretty much fixed in 1991 with the Anita Hill hearings, and since then we’ve been living in a paradise utopia where everyone is respected as a person above all else, and no one is ever the recipient of unwanted sexual advances. They will tell you that the idea of sexual harassment as a present day issue is all just a conspiracy brewed up by the liberal media and feminazis, and anyone who says otherwise is just looking for attention and/or money. However, the majority of Americans know this isn’t true. They know this, because the majority of Americans have experienced sexual harassment in their lifetimes. If the past 48 hours tells us anything, it is that this is an issue that is prevalent, widespread, and can affect anyone.

According to the statistics, 1 in 3 women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Nearly 30% of all complaints received by the EEOC every year are for sexual harassment, and 17% of these are filed by men. 65% of women and 25% of men have experienced street harassment in their lifetime. 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the US will be raped in their lifetime. 1 in 5 female students and 1 in 16 male students at US colleges will be raped in their lifetime. 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18 in the United States. 13% of American youth, both male and female, have been exposed to unwanted sexual solicitation online. Are those statistics scary enough? Shocking? Rage-inducing? No? How about this one. Experts estimate that only 30% of all sexual assaults, abuse, and harassment that occur in the United States every year are ever reported, meaning that some of the above numbers are likely much much higher. Is your blood boiling yet?

Maybe not. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few who have managed to skate through life without ever seeing or experiencing any form of unwanted sexual advances, which is amazing. But make no mistake. You are the exception. Not the rule. The statistics show us that sexual harassment happens to everyone; women, men, boys, and girls, and the impact of these crimes is devastating, not just on the victim, but to their friends, family, co-workers, and greater community at large. This is an issue that effects us all.

The issue of sexual harassment has dominated the headlines this past week, and not just because of the revelations about Harvey Weinstein. More and more the headlines are about the epidemic that is sexual harassment and assault in general, and how Harvey Weinstein is just one man in a system designed to allow this to happen. And people are sick of this system. Literally sick. It is time to break it down once and for all, and we may just be at the point where this is possible. More and more victims, both women and men, are coming forward to tell their stories. A simple search online for #MeToo is proof enough of the pervasiveness of this issue. And this is so, so important. You see, as much as the statistics above should horrify you, the truth is that a stat is easily forgotten, but a story lasts forever. If you don’t believe the statistics start asking people you know. Ask them if they have been a victim of unwanted advances, harassment, and/or assault. This behavior has to stop and the first step to creating this positive change is to fully acknowledge that it is happening.

I can’t claim to be an expert on anyone else’s story except my own, so I’m sharing mine at last. I was the victim of sexual harassment. Me too…

For more information about sexual harassment, abuse, and assault, please check out the following websites and studies.

For definitions – See Catalyst.org

For EEOC statistics – click here.

For information on street harassment – click here.

For US Department of Justice Statistics – click here.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center – click here.

Report of the Co-Chairs of the EEOC Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in the Workplace. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 2016. https://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/task_force/harassment/upload/report.pdf

Not Alone: The First Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault. Center for Disease Control (CDC). 2014. http://s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1149920/white-house-report-on-campus-sex-assault.pdf

Sexual Coercion Practices Among Undergraduate Male Recreational Athletes, Intercollegiate Athletes, and Non-Athletes. Sage Journals. 2016.

http://vaw.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/05/30/1077801216651339.abstract

Girls Girls Girls

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on October 11th, 2017.

It is estimated that right now on earth, there are approximately 1.1 billion girls. Yes. You read that right. 1.1 BILLION girls aged 0-18. They are not only tomorrow’s leaders, scientists, explorers, artists, and innovators, but today’s as well, and their collective power is limitless. Girl Power is not just a catchphrase or a sound bite. It is real, and its impact will be felt around the world. Today, as we celebrate the International Day of the Girl Child, let’s take a moment to reflect on the power of 1.1 billion girls, and how we can equip this next generation with the tools needed to reach their full potential.

The International Day of the Girl Child was first observed on October 11th, 2012, and has since become an annual day of celebration, activism, and awareness, with thousands of events planned all over the world. This year’s theme is “EmPOWER girls: Before, during and after conflict”, and will focus on the stories of adolescent girls around the world facing innumerable challenges as a result of humanitarian crises and the ways they are overcoming these obstacles. It promises to be an incredibly inspiring day, so I encourage you to visit www.dayofthegirl.org to find an event in your area. Also, if you are interested in the issues facing girls and how to address them visit by BEST REPORTS on women and girls. There are over 25 of the best studies listed.

As for myself, I will be spending the day planning for the upcoming SUREFIRE Girls Conference here in my home state of Utah. On November 11th, girls aged 15-18 will gather together for a very special one-day event created just for them. This event model is the creation of SUREFIRE’s Founder, Heather Mason. Heather runs an event production company that produces large-scale events around the world, including the SKOLL World Forum. She started SUREFIRE because she believes, as I do, that attending amazing gatherings and meeting amazing people at a young age has the potential to be a game-changer. Our Utah girls have the option of being paired up with mentors from Utah’s Wonder Women community, of which I am a proud member and CoFounder. It is unprecedented investment in intergenerational women’s leadership.

Additionally, this conference will play host to an incredible special guest – Sonita Alizadeh. I first met Sonita in 2016 when I had the opportunity to meet her following the premiere of the documentary film about her life, Sonita, at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Audience Award for World Cinema Documentary. Sonita first gained attention in 2014 with the publication of her music video “Brides for Sale”, and she has since gone on to become a world renowned activist on the issue of ending child marriage and the selling of young girls to men often twice their age. In 2017, the Asia Society recognized Sonita as one of their recipients of their Game Changer Awards, and now we are honored to have her at the SUREFIRE Girls Conference. Overall, this event promises to be an incredible opportunity for Utah’s girls, so if you know of a girl aged 15-18 who would like to attend, please click HERE for more information.

However, statistically speaking, most of you reading this do not know a teenage girl living in Utah, but that doesn’t mean you can’t support International Day of the Girl Child. While there are so many incredible organizations out there working to advance young girls around the world, I would like to single out three, listed below, that are worthy of your support, whether that support is through your time, talent, and/or treasure. And finally, to the 1.1 billion girls out there who are ready to change the world for the better, know that we are here for you and we will work to make this world a more fair and just place for you until you are ready to take over. Happy International Day of the Girl Child everyone; girls and boys, men and women the world over.

Girl Up

Girls are powerful. When they’re educated, healthy, and safe, they transform their communities. When girls stand up for girls in need, they empower each other and transform our world. As the United Nations Foundation’s adolescent girl campaign, Girl Up engages girls to take action. Led by a community of nearly half a million passionate advocates raising awareness and funds, their efforts help the hardest to reach girls living in places where it is hardest to be a girl.

Lower East Side Girls Club

The Lower Eastside Girls Club connects girls and young women to healthy and successful futures. Their state-of-the-art center offers a safe haven with programs in the arts, sciences, leadership, entrepreneurship, and wellness for middle and high school girls.

Girls on the run

Adolescence is a challenging time for girls. Self-confidence and physical activity levels drop while at the same time peer relationships become more complicated. Girls on the Run is a physical activity-based positive youth development program that is designed to enhance girls’ social, psychological and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. Their mission is to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum that creatively integrates running.

Do you have a favorite organizations that serves girls? Feel free to share it below.

Celebrating 10 Years of Women Moving Millions

As published on LinkedIn Influencers on September 8th, 2017.

“Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world.” H.Zinn

Today marks the start of the annual Women Moving Millions (WMM) Summit in New York City, and this year we are celebrating 10 years since the founding of WMM. 10 years since two sisters decided to spark a philanthropic movement dedicated to giving big and bold. 10 years during which unprecedented resources have been catalyzed for the advancement of women and girls. 10 years since an incredible community of donors came together to put the words women, giving, and millions together.

Women Moving Millions began in 2007 as a campaign to raise the bar on giving to women and girls. Founders and sisters Helen LaKelly Hunt and Ambassador Swanee Hunt sought to inspire donors to make financial commitments of $1 million or more to women’s funds around this country and the world. Phase I of the WMM campaign began in April 2007, and was launched in partnership with the Women’s Funding Network. During the initial campaign, over $182 million was pledged from 102 donors to 41 WFN funds, and a global movement of committed, purposeful women donors (and a few good men!) was born. I was honored to be one of the 102, and although I knew the initiative was a game-changer for women and philanthropy, I did not know how much of a game-changer it would be for THIS woman and HER philanthropy. That woman being me.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” H. Keller

Soon after the campaign ended I began to take on a more active role within WMM, together with so many other women who knew that this effort to encourage women to give big and bold to women and girls could not end. With every passing year I became more and more passionate about the cause, and in 2011 I was invited by Helen LaKelly Hunt to become the founding President and CEO (Chief Engagement Officer) of Women Moving Millions Inc. when WMM transitioned from a program and campaign within Helen’s private foundation into an independent 501C3. This transition was possible in large part because of a signficant seed grant from the JP Morgan Foundation, which came to us through the incredible support of Kim Davis, Laura Davis, Mary Erdoes, and Diane Whitty. Earlier this week I had an amazing call with Kim, who is no longer with the foundation, and we laughed about the sheer number of meetings we had over the years, and I have the evidence! I saved every single deck and every single note from every single meeting. Kim, along with those other amazing women, believed in us and our mission at WMM, and tonight I will be celebrating them at the Brooklyn Museum.

In the years since I became CEO, I have put my heart and soul into this organization, because I truly believe in the work we are doing to support our members’ individual, as well as our collective engagement and leadership, to bring about a more just and equitable world. Yesterday we welcomed 28 new members, bringing our total to 282. 282 individuals who have given or pledged at least $1 million or more to organizations of their choice that primarily serve women and girls. Documented total giving exceeds $600 million, but total giving from our community members stretches well over a billion. Money does not go to WMM or through us, but directly to the organizations of the member’s choosing. What an honor and privilege it is to see where the money goes, and the vast number of organizations and initiatives that our members support. Money matters, but so does passion and leveraging one’s personal platform in every way possible.

This was brought to life so powerfully last night when one of our newest members, Mariska Hargitay, spoke about her passion around the issue of untested rape kits and her soon to be released HBO film I Am Evidence. Mariska has portrayed Lieutenant Olivia Benson on NBC’s Law and Order: SVU since 1999, and in 2004, in response to the thousands of letters she has received over the years from rape and sexual assault survivors, she founded the Joyful Heart Foundation. The mission of this foundation is to help survivors of this abuse through the positive transformation of society’s response to sexual assault, but in particular, this foundation aims to end the national backlog of untested rape kits, which is the primary issue examined in the film. Thank you Pat Mitchell for doing such a beautiful job interviewing Mariska and others involved with the film including Kym Worthy, Wayne County Prosecutor and Maile Zambuto, CEO of the Joyful Heart Foundation. Missing was the amazing Regina Scully, Producer of the film and Founder of the Artemis Rising Foundation. Key messages from the film were captured by the incredibly talented visual artist @PeterDurand.

“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” African Proverb

Every year we pick a theme for the Women Moving Millions Summit, and it is no coincidence that the theme of this year’s Summit is The Power of Community, because the power of this community is truly remarkable, and we are just getting started. Yesterday, Gloria Steinem joined us, as she has many times before, and invited us, no commanded us, to do what other groups may not be able to do. To take big risks, to be bold, and to support and champion each other and the countless women who do not have the resources we do.

Tonight, I will be named a cofounder of Women Moving Millions Inc., alongside Helen LaKelly Hunt and Catalyst Ambassador Swanee Hunt, and this honour means the world to me. I will continue to be ALL IN to build a movement of people, men and women, who believe that gender equality is important, is just, is right, and is about time.

Please join the conversation online at @WomenMovMillions, #wmmsummit, and #powerofcommunity

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” M. Mead

Here’s to the next 10 years of community at Women Moving Millions.