I have served on many Boards and Committees and embraced many political, environmental, cultural and social causes. Don't worry - I'm not going to list them all! But I am happy to recall the time when I was 9 months pregnant with my first child, Eleanna, and was physically removed from the Milton Fruit Center parking lot along with my dear friend Susanna Place, by the local police. We were campaigning for reproductive rights. How can it be that 25 years later we are still campaigning for basic reproductive rights? In any case, aside from supporting efforts initiated by others, here are a few of the actions which I've authored myself.
Clearing the Path - Boston
In June 2014 I organized a meeting of 150 MA CEO's and leaders, including Governor Patrick and Mayor Walsh, to examine the proposition that MA could and should lead the nation on two important and measurable objectives which reflect the role of women in business: The % of Women on Boards & The % Gender Wage Gap. It was the first such gathering of its kind. Our premise was that progress could be accelerated if we get the decision makers in the room. OUTCOMES: We have heard many anecdotal reports subsequently of individual corporate actions and will be following up with data this year. Additionally, for the first time, the organizations which work on these issues are now gathering regularly for a collaborative conversation. And finally a Resolution was introduced and voted unamimously in the summer of 2015 calling on MA to achieve gender parity on Boards and laying out specific steps to get there. Clearing the Path was sponsored by the Alliance for Business Leadership where I serve on the Board, and co-sponsored by an impressive collection of organizations with a wide spectrum of economic & social agendas.
Click here for a link to the Clearing the Path Overview
Sweet Home Mother's Day Ride
In 2009 I travelled to Family Homeless Shelters in 15 cities from Atlanta to Boston, riding my bicycle solo from shelter to shelter with a goal of publicizing the family homelessness crisis and putting a more accurate public face on the people who seek refuge there. We threw a Gingerbread House decorating party at each stop. Sound silly? Not at all. It was a beautiful gift of simple fun and a distraction from the daily challenges. It was also the perfect vehicle for leveling the playing field for a comfortable conversation. At each stop I learned a bit about who they are, how they became homeless, how it was going for them and what their plans were to move on. I met a large population of people who confirmed what I thought I knew from my years of involvement in Family Homelessness. Families who are homeless are not much different than the rest of us. They just had one too many bad breaks and one too few resources to fall back on.
In this intense 15 day exploration the challenge was not what I expected. Riding my bicycle 100 miles a day was the easy part. Finding a way to process all the powerful emotions and discoveries was the struggle. Yet exhausted as I was, I found that I tapped in to a whole other energy source when I arrived at a shelter and settled in for conversation with a new group of inspiring individuals. Yes there was plenty of dysfunction and tragedy in these life stories, but there was more hope, resilience and joy. Yes joy. Want to be reminded of how small your problems are the next time you feel a whine coming on? Go decorate Gingerbread Houses with a bunch of kids who not only live in a shelter, but a shelter which moves the residents ever week to a different church hall because that county does not have a permanent shelter. The kids who live there will lift you up. Sweet Home Mother's Day Ride Blog
On November 2, 2015 I published an Op Ed at the request of people who are working hard to preserve our reproductive freedoms in the context of unprecedented assaults at the local, state and federal levels, both legislatively, legally and on the streets. Click HERE FOR A LINK to the piece as it appeared in the Boston Globe. Or HERE FOR MY FACEBOOK POST. For understandable reasons, most of us don't speak up. In the name of listenting, learning, thoughtfulness and civil discourse, please pass this along. My broader wish: if only we conversed more and argued less about all the important issues which challenge our great society. Collectively, we have the ability to be so much greater.
In 1995, while serving on the Board, I organized the first ever River Art Exhibition on behalf of the Captain Benett Forbes House Museum. It was a celebration of the natural beauty of the Neponset River Watershed Area and a call to artists to come discover its charms en plein aire. It became an annual affair which offers artists of all stripe, from children to professionals, a vehicle for connecting and showing their work while helping to preserve this remarkable natural resource. The inspiration for this show married my long time environmental activism with my passion for landscape painting. I was able to assemble a terrific collection of talented artists to come and explore the area and grace it with their unique perspectives.
Wheaton Forum on Women
In 1973 I was an awkward 16 year old Freshman at Wheaton College and Pat Sweeting was a 20 year old Freshman. Neither of us felt like we belonged but Pat probably stood out in contrast with the population more obviously as she was 5'10" tall plus the big afro. We were both frustrated by the apparent lack of consciousness and sense of urgency about the role of women in society - and we felt we had an obligation and an opportunity to accelerate the pace of change. So we got together with some wonderfully "radical" faculty and started the Wheaton Forum on Women. The first speaker we brought to campus was Gloria Steinem. We like to think we started wave of awareness and redefinition at Wheaton, an institution we grew to love.