It's My Birthday So I'm Going To Talk About One of My Favorite Things: Women Leaders
If there is one thing the nonprofit world is good at (besides, you know, providing the services the government will not) it’s amassing amazing women. As with everything else, this is in part because the patriarchy and the fact that the caring for the sick, elderly, impoverished and underserved is generally seen as “women’s work” and we can also go into a rant about why that’s part of the reason that the work is underpaid but we’re going to put that all aside for now because, again, it’s my birthday and I just want to talk about things I love.
When I lived in Philadelphia, one of my favorite events of the year was the Women’s Way gala (other contenders and for very different reasons: the Women’s Medical Fund October event; the Philadelphia Magic Garden’s gala; the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.) Women’s Way is a foundation that provides funding for programs for women and girls in the Philadelphia region and the gala generally takes place at the Sheraton downtown. You arrive in the lobby, go up the elevators, and walk into a sea of women in power suits and incredible dresses. It’s hard to describe the feeling of walking into a space of 1,500 women (and approximately 4 men). Your dreams feel possible and real: if they all can do it, so can you. Also did I mention the incredible dresses? There is something extra inspiring about watching a female leader in a bold print.
When I was in high school and college, I spent a lot of time with [boys —> men]. So many band practices and video games. (Cliche, I know, but it is also truly how I spent a rather significant amount of time in my youth.) There’s a particular kind of energy being the woman around a group of men that I love and sometimes miss. But as I started to get older, I found myself gravitating more and more to female friendships for my sources of inspiration, expertise and care. My days became filled with coffees, lunches, porch whiskeys with other women in the nonprofit sector muddling through this frustrating, endearing, broken system. Today my world is filled with women hellbent on changing the world and what it means to be a leader.
It’s the women in my life who told me to quit my job and do this and who constantly remind me it was a good idea. It’s the women in my life who gave me the contracts that let me quit. It’s the women in my life who text me before 9am to wish me a happy birthday.
So happy birthday to me, and cheers to all the women who got me here.