We arrived in San Francisco to attend the California reception for the 2012 21 Leaders of the 21st Century held at the  Women Donors Network offices on Commercial Street, which was really more like an alley.  The taxi driver had no idea where he was going and kept asking Mom and me for directions.  He finally turned off the meter when it was clear he was going in circles. Later, when we left the building with Berkeley Professor Karen Jacobs and were searching for a cab, she scoffed– apparently our hotel was about four blocks away.  She was going to have to walk farther to catch the BART back to Berkeley.

That night, Women’s eNews Editor in Chief, Rita Henley Jensen, introduced us to a battery of incredible women and their work on behalf of women and girls worldwide. The modest offices where the reception was held belied the rich and deep palette of real power in the room :

  • Powerhouse Elizabeth Colton and her beautiful, gregarious Executive Director Clare Winterton, who run The International Museum of Women, providing tools for expression and spark engagement on behalf of global women’s issues through multimedia online exhibitions and temporary physical events and installations;
  •  Stunning and calm Deborah Santana whose pro-active yet balanced approach is exemplified in her Do A Little Foundation focused on women’s health, education and happiness;
  • The always impressive Cristi Hegranes whose kick-ass Global Press Institute trained the first wave of GlobalGirl Media trainers back in 2009 before we began the Kick It Up! Project between Soweto, South Africa and East Los Angeles;
  • Trailblazer Margarita Quihuis whose work as director of the Women’s Technology Cluster led to 67M in venture capital and technology funding and who is now working at Stanford University directing projects like the Peace Innovation Lab  where they are exploring the potential of social networks to change society for the better.
  • Betsy Cotton and Laurie Kretchmar (representing Mary Hughes) from the 2012 Project at Rutgers Center for American Women and Politics who are focused on increasing the number of women in Congress and state legislatures by taking advantage of the once-in-a-decade opportunities of 2012, when they say there are more open seats up for grabs than there will be again until the mid 2030’s (gulp).
  • Christine Bronstein, whose Band of Wives posits a new paradigm for sisterhood based on  a social media community that provides virtual and direct support for women to connect, nurture one another and promote their businesses, talents and passions.
  • Karen Middleton, the new president of Emerge America whose goal is to increase the number of Democratic women in public office through inspiring women to run and training them to win.
  • Musimbi Kanyoro President and CEO and her lovely Director of Development Christine Switzer of the Global Fund for Women bringing grantees and donors together in an international network that promotes women’s action for social change, equality, peace, and justice worldwide.

It was such a great time; I felt like there was so much energy, smarts and creativity in the area of women’s rights that there could be way the status quo could remain in place for much longer. It’s not the first time I’ve felt that way either; whether at the NWPC  Conference in DC or the NCMR in Boston, from Digital Hollywood to the Aspen Institute, everywhere I’ve been in the past few years there has been an uncontainable bubbling up of new power out of the women’s movement.

And yet… with all these puzzle pieces doing their part, and exceptionally well, why is the overall picture still not coming into view?

I think that may be what I should be working on.  Developing the overall narrative, refining the message– making it clear.  Women’s equality is not just right or fair or long overdue – everyone from Sheryl WuDunn & Nicholas Kristof (Half The Sky) to President Obama knows that fully empowering women within the legal and social construct IS the solution for the 21st century. So why is this “no brainer” giving us all migraines?

Could it be that it’s about coming up with the shape, the color, the “front of the box” on the Movement 2.0? Maybe it’s about creating the vehicle that is inclusive enough,  relevant enough, makes the argument simply and indisputably enough to convince the all the puzzle pieces to come together and ride on the same bus – come together and make that unified picture.  I’m going to try to do that.  Come up with what that is.


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