Friday, March 29, 2013

Women's History Month: Kerry Healey

Kerry Healey has long been a major player in state and national politics.  She was the former Lieutenant Governor under Mitt Romney and served as both domestic and foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign.  Now, however, she is taking a step back from the GOP as Babson College's first women president in its 94 year history.  

Let's be honest, though.  By taking this position, she isn't putting important issues on the back burner, she is taking a step towards making education more affordable and accessible, especially for young girls.  Her mother was the first woman in her family to go to college, and she stated that she will make affordable education at Babson College a priority, "I’m someone who is fortunate to have attended college and graduate school greatly on scholarships.  I understand the importance of making education affordable for everyone."

And, if she isn't inspiring enough, since she left public office in 2007 she has led a national effort to reduce child homelessness, brought humanitarian aid to schools for the disabled in Cuba, and trained female Afghan parliamentarians in Kabul.  It is like this woman can't stop giving back.  She is co-chair of a bipartisan effort to elect more women to state and federal office called the Parity Project (seem familiar?

"The more I thought about it, the more it became obvious," Healey said. "Babson cares about the same things I do, which is to bring entrepreneurial vision and efforts to bear on the big questions confronting our society and our country."

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Women's History Month: Mayor Wong

In 2007, Mayor Wong of Fitchburg, MA became the first female Asian-American mayor in a city that never elected a woman to the job.  Some tough decisions were made, many of them unpopular, for a city that was on the brink of financial disaster.  "We’ve been paying bills without looking at them for years and years," Wong said.  

Lisa Wong, in her first two and a half years in office, built up a stabilization fund from $20,000 to over $4,000,000 and balanced the budget.  It's not all money, though.  She helped to found Fun in FITchburg, an initiative to combat child obesity in Fitchburg. 

Mayor Wong is living proof that women in politics don't have to fit into a stereotype caring only about the women's right to choose, family orientated issues, and advocating for women.  Mayor Wong looked at her passions, her strengths, and did what she could to make Fitchburg a better place; she took a job previously done by men and did it better.  She looked at the financial crisis of Fitchburg, MA and did something about it.  Now, with a balanced budget, she is able to look at and support environmental projects and redevelopment projects in an entirely new and more effective way.  

Also, like Nancy Pelosi, Lisa Wong loves dark chocolate.  

Friday, March 22, 2013

Women's History Month: Boston Women's Memorial

Abigail Adams, Phyllis Wheatley, and Lucy Stone are some pretty big names in Women's History.   Not only were they pioneering feminists, but they are also depicted in the ONLY memorial in Boston dedicated to women.

This isn't your high school history lesson, but it is important to remember that, at their time, these women were forging history and shaping the future.  Not only was Abigail Adams influential in her husband's (John Adam's) presidency, but also she was a strong advocate for women's property rights and for the education of women.  Phyllis Wheatley first published poem, On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin, was both written and published at age 12 while she was still in slavery.  Not only did she become the first African American to publish a book, Poems, but she was also the first African American woman to earn a living from her writing.  Lucy Stone was the first woman in Massachusetts to receive a college degree.  She was an abolitionist and a suffragist and, in protest to the marriage laws at the time, refused to take her husband's last name.  FUN FACT: She was also a pioneer of the women wearing pants trend.  Which turned out to be pretty permanent, if you haven't noticed.

Even before they had the right to vote, these women fought for equality.  You can see the testament to their bravery and perseverance in the field of women's rights, by artist Meredith Bergmann, on the historic Commonwealth Avenue Mall in Boston, between Fairfield and Gloucester Streets.  

Next time you're in Back Bay, take a visit, walk around, interact with them; understand that the forging of history is not yet done.  Thanks to Abigail Adams, Phillis Wheatley  and Lucy Stone, women's equality has come so far, but we still have a long road ahead of us.  Through the rest of Women's History Month and for months to come, at the monument and at home, let their passion inspire you.  

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Women's History Month: Ayanna Pressley

Ayanna Pressley.  There are no words for her, besides awesome, and every synonym thereof.  I know the punch line we are all tired of hearing, but she has actual middle class roots.  She was raised by a single mother and recognizes that "people thought [she] didn't fit the model of what a candidate in Boston should be." However, that can change, as she alluded to, because "conventional wisdom lasts only until it is no longer conventional."  When she ran for Boston City Council in 2009, she was the only female in a field of 15 candidates, and made history as the first woman of color to serve on the Council since it's formation over 100 years ago.

Councilor Pressley has not only the most amazing resume, including working under Secretary of State John Kerry during his term in office as Massachusetts Senator, but she also backs it up with some pretty amazing work.  With her spot on the City Council she has continued to prioritize the stabilizing of families and communities, combating poverty, domestic and sexual violence, child abuse and neglect, bullying, substance abuse, mentoring, hunger, and homelessness.  Councilor Pressley has served in leadership positions on our  MWPC Board of Directors, the Young Professionals Preventing Child Abuse of the Children's Trust Fund, the UMass Boston Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, Emerge Massachusetts, Action for Boston Community Development, Inc., and the Young Black Women's Society.  And on top of all that, she is an active Big Sister with the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston.

So what does all this boil down to?  Ayanna Pressley is AWESOME.  As an MWPC intern, I get to see Councilor Pressley on the campaign trail and interacting with her constituents.  She isn't just reading off of some script, but speaking and motivating in a way that only she can.

"My goal is to make sure that the city of Boston works for everybody.  There is a misconception that people get when they hear about women's issues.  But anything that affects women affects an entire family.  They are extremely important."

Join the MWPC to hear her speak at her Annual Women for Ayanna event tonight at the Omni Parker House from 7-8pm, just in time for Women's History Month.  Click Here for tickets.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Happy Women's History Month!

In celebration of Women's History Month, we will be doing spotlights on a few amazing women that you should probably know - both women from history and women that are making history.  Today's lovely lady is of the latter category, the Minority House Leader Nancy Pelosi.  

Here are 10 reasons why Nancy Pelosi rules.

1.  She is the first women EVER to serve as Speaker of the House.
2.  She was crucial to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  AKA Obamacare.  
3.  Pro-Choice.  Nuff said.
4.  In response to the 138 Republicans who voted against the Violence Against Women Act and the harmful affects of the sequester against women she said, "to vote against the Violence Against Women Act is taking it all to a new place in terms of their lack of understanding of what the challenges are that women face...It’s just a stunning display of their value system, and it’s very harmful to women.
5.  She LOVES chocolate.
6.  She has made combating HIV/AIDS a priority in Congress for the past 25 years.
7.  Her mother and four daughters are her feminist heroines.  
8.  The Minority House Leader has successfully defeated repeated attempts to reduce funding for international family planning programs.  
9.  She said, "If you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility, you’ll have more women elected to public office, and sooner, and that nothing is more wholesome to the governmental and political process than increased participation of women."
10.  She is 72, and STILL rocking the House!

Read her full interview at!