Woman 2020: Lisa / by Jenn Heflin

It has been a crazy year for women. Historically, though, we know every year is crazy for women. If ever things are going to change, now seems like the moment. WOMAN 2020 is a snapshot of women during this time of upheaval. We are building careers, raising children, living our lives, and trying to impact the world in positive ways, and I believe all women have much to say. This is Lisa’s Q&A.

What is your first name, occupation, and role (or roles) you most identify with? 

Lisa, Chief Development Officer, mother, athlete, leader, creator

What is the most positive thing about being a woman in 2018?
As a country we are talking about what it means to be a woman. Living through a presidential election with a female candidate was an amazing, if heartbreaking, experience. I think that Hillary's campaign was the inspiration for so many women to run for elected office, and seeing so many women, representing so many backgrounds, step into leadership roles gives me so much hope.

What is the hardest thing about being a woman in 2018?
Having the limelight on female candidates has also shown me just how much work still needs to be done before all women will have the opportunity to reach their best potential.

When did you first notice that society treated men and women (or boys and girls) differently?
In first grade I ran the 50 yard dash faster than anyone else in the class - boy or girl. I don't remember anything specific that was said to me, but I have this very distinct memory of that moment being tinged with sadness, maybe even a little embarrassment. I think I knew even then, that I wasn't supposed to beat the boys.

How do you maintain your resiliency in these times? 
I feel truly fortunate to be surrounded by some pretty amazing women. At work I am surrounded by smart, sassy, driven women. In the gym, I am regularly amazed by the strength and drive of the women with whom I work out. I look for spaces where women who demonstrate strength - of all kinds - is celebrated.

Why do you think past movements haven't moved the needle for women? Or have they? 
I get to vote in every election, so absolutely past movements have moved the needle for all women. I think, however, that we have not done enough. There are still huge disparities between the experiences of women in the U.S. based on race, class, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We have to challenge ourselves to dig deeper into those really uncomfortable places if we want to truly lift up all women.

Do you think the current movement will be the one to change things for future generations?
I think that our current leaders will push for change, but I really don't know if they will be able to make the kind of dramatic change that I think we need. This country seems to be really reluctant to talk about race, class, and privilege, and until we can do so, I think that progress will continue to happen in starts and fits.

What needs to happen for us to move forward?
Some days I think that something really catastrophic will have to happen to rock us out of complacency. Someone said the other day that we each need to work on the 10% that we can control and come together in community to tackle the other 90%. I think that if we all continue to work on our 10% - really work on it - by lifting up our daughters, refusing to remain complacent when we encounter bias, and pushing ourselves to continue to be open to really listening to other women, we would surge ahead.

What can women do to make it better for other women?
Women can be active advocates and mentors for other women. I think that social media is a place where we can be vocal and lead by example in how we interact with each other.

What can men do to make it better for women? 
Be silent. It sounds flip, but I am completely over men talking about, legislating and setting the rules for how women show up in the world. Speak up - to other men at least! We need active allies who are willing to call-out other men.

What are some of the influences (people, art, books, songs, movies) you loved growing up that made you realize your power?
I feel very fortunate that I grew up surrounded by women who were in charge. My mother was a high school English teacher and I think that I was fortunate that she was of the take-charge variety, and that she happened to work in a school/district that had a large number of women who were also school leaders and administrators. My time at Bryn Mawr, women's college, also absolutely influenced my ideas of what women were entitled to in this world. I also think that there are no shortage of women who have sparked my imagination or ambition in one way or another. Just a few include: Toni Morrison, Molly Ivins, Mae Jemison, Barbara Ehrenreich, all the women in the cast of Hamilton, and Michelle Obama.

Visit the WOMAN 2020 webpage to tell your story and to stay in touch about the exhibition opening in Spring of 2020.