Rachelle Suissa on Increasing Women in Public Office

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Rachelle Suissa, Founder and President of Dare to Run. Dare to Run is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate and empower women with the skills necessary to run for public office at the local, state and national level of government. The organization offers female college graduates the chance to participate in a one-year certificate program in pursuit of a career path in public service. Dare to Run gives women the opportunity to be a voice for their communities by committing to run campaigns in search of elected office within two years of graduation from the program.

Rachelle Suissa is the Founder and CEO of Dare to Run, an organization that provides women the leadership skills and training they need to run for office in New York State. (Image Credit: Dare to Run/Rachelle Suisa)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

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Funding the World We Want to See: Sonal Sachdev Patel

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Sonal Sachdev Patel, writer, activist and CEO of GMSP Foundation.

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Sonal Sachdev Patel, CEO of God My Silent Partner Foundation (GMSP) Foundation. (Photo courtesy Sonal Sachdev Patel)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

So much. I wish I had known to go straight to the grassroots. The civil society leaders on the frontlines know what their communities need and know how to deliver it. But they’re constrained by a funding environment that is too often inflexible, impatient and imperialistic in terms of who drives the agenda. When we started in 2006, we were giving project-based funds. After listening to our local partners, we shifted to unrestricted funding.

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Lucina Di Meco: Why We Need More Women Making Decisions

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Lucina Di Meco, Senior Director of Gender Equality and Girls’ Education at Room to Read and author of #ShePersisted. Women, Politics & Power in the New Media World

lucina di meco
Lucina Di Meco (Image Credit: Lucina Di Meco)
  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

It’s more important to do what you truly believe in and makes you happy and excited, than what you think might look good on your resume. To a young woman in my field I would say: do the meaningful work that you enjoy doing, and trust that something good will come out of it.

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

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Measurable Pathways to Equity: UNICEF USA’s Cristina Shapiro

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features the President of UNICEF USA’s Impact Fund for Children, Cristina Shapiro.

pathways to equity
Cristina Shapiro (Photo courtesy of Cristina Shapiro)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Don’t make perfect the enemy of good — or great. Research shows that women feel like they need to be perfect and fully knowledgeable before they contribute or apply to new opportunities — I certainly did, and it likely held me back at the beginning of my career. 

Another thing I wish I realized was that equality and equity are not the same. Though women may have equal rights in many parts of the world, that doesn’t mean they have the same access to opportunities, resulting in significant inequity. As a Hispanic woman in finance, there were very few role models that looked like me. Now, I know it is up to me to help change that dynamic.

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Riki Wilchins: Gender Norms and Intersectionality

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Riki Wilchins, executive director of the nonprofit TrueChild and author of, “Gender Norms & Intersectionality: Connecting Race, Class and Gender.”

Riki Wilchins, courtesy: Riki Wilchins

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I’d realized how difficult and slow social change is. I think when you’re younger, you’re a bit more optimistic. But, any kind of real change takes years, maybe decades, of constant effort and attention. 

What is your current greatest professional challenge?

Our goal is getting people to think intersectionally, so they connect race, class and gender norms. The challenge is two-fold: most organizations don’t know how to talk about gender norms, or if they do, they disconnect it from factors like race and class.

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How Canada is Pushing for Better Mental Health Care for Women

Editor’s Note: This edition of our Feminist Giving IRL (in real life) series features Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, Clinician Scientist and Physician-in-Chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health hospital and a global research leader. She is the clinical lead of CAMH womenmind, a new effort from CAMH to close the gender gap in mental health.  She is also a Professor and Vice Chair Clinical and Innovation in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto. 

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Dr. Vicky Stergiopoulos, Clinician Scientist and Physician-in-Chief at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) (Photo credit: CAMH)

1.       What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

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Power to Decide: Ginny Ehrlich on Repro Rights and Access

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the nonprofit Power to Decide, “the campaign to prevent unplanned pregnancy.” 

Ginny Ehrlich, courtesy: Ginny Ehrlich

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

When I started my career, I really wish I had truly understood the breadth of possibilities available to me. Early on, I had a limited view of what I could achieve professionally. But I have been extremely fortunate to have exceeded even my wildest professional dreams. So, what I have learned is that with grit and vision, anything is possible.  

What is your current greatest professional challenge?

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Lori Sokol: Making Women’s Media with Truth and Transparency

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL (F-GIRL) series features Lori Sokol, PhD, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Women’s eNews. This year marks the 20th Anniversary of Women’s eNews, to be celebrated on May 4 at their annual Women’s eNews 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Awards.

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Lori Sokol, PhD, Executive Director & Editor-in-Chief of Women’s eNews (Photo by Eva Mueller)

I entered the media industry immediately after graduating from college, but looking back I should have gone straight to graduate school instead. I didn’t become a graduate student until nine years later, when I was already pregnant with my first child. As a result, I had to attend graduate school part-time while becoming a new mother, and running my own media business simultaneously. It took me twelves years of attending grad school at night to earn my PhD.

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This is a Marathon: Dr. Tessie San Martin on Leading for Girls

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Dr. Tessie San Martin, President & CEO, Plan International USA. Dr. San Martin’s career spans public and private sectors, international development, and academia. Here, she shares some insights on gender equality.

tessie san martin
Dr. Tessie Van Martin, President and CEO of Plan International, shares her thoughts on how to stay focused and energized for the global work of empowering girls. (Image Credit: Plan International)

What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

At the risk of sounding smug, I can honestly say that I really have no regrets. That isn’t because I feel as if I always took the right path or made the right decision at the right time, but because I feel strongly that everything I have done has prepared me, in some way, for what I am doing now and contributed in some way – big or small – to what I have achieved with my career. 

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Own Your Power: Elizabeth Yntema on Gender Equality in Dance

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Elizabeth Yntema, president and founder of the Dance Data Project (DDP), which promotes “equity in all aspects of classical ballet by providing a metrics-based analysis through our database while showcasing women-led companies, festivals, competitions, venues, special programs and initiatives.” 

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Elizabeth Yntema, president and founder of the Dance Data Project (courtesy: Elizabeth Yntema)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had had a female mentor, and she had reassured me that success isn’t defined by a linear path. I have been a corporate attorney, a lobbyist, worked as the Director of Governmental Affairs of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, was employed part-time as a consultant, opened an art gallery and, with three small children, focused on volunteering for a time. Now, I use every single one of my experiences and skills acquired over the decades. 

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