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Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Karen S. Kalish

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I would like to give the spotlight to a dear friend of mine, who former president George W. Bush called "a mighty persuasive young lady." Rightly so. Karen Kalish is the founder and executive director of a teacher home visit program called HOME WORKS! She was featured in Harvard Kennedy School Magazine over the summer honoring her work with her nonprofit. She credits the Kennedy School with giving her the skills she needed to take HOME WORKS! to the next level.

"I call myself a serial social entrepreneur," Karen told the magazine. As her friend, I can testify to the truth of that statement! The idea for HOME WORKS! came out of a program that she began after she graduated from the Kennedy School, "Books and Badges," which places police recruits in the academy in low-performing elementary schools weekly to interact with the students. The recruits and students read and write togther, creating a bond of mutual respect. On the program, she told the magazine: "Too many of the families our teachers visit don't know the importance of reading and talking to their children every day because no one read and talked to them."
Books and Badges is now in its 14th year, and HOME WORKS! is thriving.
This past year, 340 teachers in 27 schools made 3,629 home visits in urban, suburban and rural districts in Missouri. Compare those numbers with 2012-2013, where teachers in 21 schools made 3,299 visits. Karen said she believes that the results so far have been exciting and promising - and I agree! The model is set up to include two mandatory trainings for teachers, two home visits per student a year, two teachers on every visit, two family dinners, and two staff in each school to maintain program fidelity and data collection as well.
Next, Karen aims to reach more struggling schools in Missouri. She told the magazine: "I can't think of anything more important for this community and this country."
So congratulations, Karen, on all of your success with HOME WORKS! and your programs so far, and cheers to much more to come. As children are heading back to school and another academic year gets underway, I'm delighted to watch this positive change you're creating grow to help many students and communities!
Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Dr. Frances Kelsey

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I want to honor a special woman who happens to be one of America's most celebrated public Servants. Dr. Frances Kelsey passed away earlier this month at the age of 101, and so as we put the spotlight on her and her many accomplishments we remember the true pioneer of public health and consumer protection - a woman with a voice for change.


In 1960, a drug had been sold to pregnant women in Eurpe for morning sickness, and this was right around the time that Dr. Kelsey had taken her position with the FDA in DC. One of her first tasks was to review an application by the US pharmaceutical company Richardons-Merrell for thalidomide, a tranquilizer and painkiller found in the morning sickness treatment.
After her research, by late 1961, the terrible evidence against thalidomide was pouring in -- it was causing thousands of babies to be born with flipperlike arms and legs and other defects in Europe and Canada, where it was already available.
Dr. Kelsey's actions to keep the drug out of the United States won her the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service by President John F. Kennedy. She became the 20th century American heroine for her role in the thalidomide case, celebrated not only for her vigilance, which sprared the U.S. from widespread birth deformities, but also for giving rise to modern laws regulating pharmaceuticals.
In 2000 she was inducted in the National Women's Hall of Fame, joining the likes of Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead and many other luminaries.
So this week as we remember Frances, a modern heroine, we recognize her for not only what she did for women's health and the pharmaceutical industry, but for using her voice to prevent the birth of hundreds or even thousands of armless and legless children - a true way to use your voice for change.
Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!


Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Sue Vicory

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I have the pleasure of covering not only a woman who is achieving great things, but who happens to be a great friend of mine. She, and her all-female "Team XX," are making history at the 2015 San Diego 48 Hour Film Project, where a team is formed and over one weekend a short film must be written, filmed, edited and submitted within 48 hours. The competition is worldwide, with more than 130 cities competing.


Sue is a producer/director at Heartland Films, and executive produced and directed the first "all-female" 27-member team, dubbed "Team XX." Their film is titled "Down Stage." It's a holiday film about Mother's Day, and will screen with 12 others.

The project took pklace July 24-26. That Friday evening, her team was assigned the holiday film genre, and all teams were assigned the same line ("Sometime's that's all you need"), character (Alan or Alice Downing, a coach), and prop (flashlight) that must be included in their film. The premier screenings are currently taking place, through tomorrow, and the "Best Of" screenings will occur on August 22nd.

In spite of the tight deadlines, Sue's love and creative knack for filmmaking helped her and her team to produce a film they can be proud of. Sue's leadership techniques are notable, and are important to note of because of all they were able to accomplish in a short time - within a few hours a script was written, from Friday evening into early Saturday morning at Sue's seaside condo. Sue held "bonding" meetings with most of the 27-member team in the weeks leading up to the actual filming weekend, and one even had a "ock talent show" audition with 10 actresses! A fun, innovative way to engage a team and tap into creative inspiration before the big event.

Next week, Sue will hear nominations for the 100+ films that have been entered. I'd like to congratulate Sue and wish her and her team good luck with the rest of the competition, as well as offer Sue's story as an exemplary leadership model to harness the creative capactiy of a team to achieve something great - in 48 hours!

To read more about Team XX, you can find them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as Sue's site.

 Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Ronda Rousey

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week's woman of the week is Ronda Rousey, an outstanding fighter with a 12-0 record - she's unstoppable. At 28, she is both a supreme athlete and a star. As she continues to take out opponents in mere seconds, this UFC star is not only taking the spotlight, she's taking the world by storm.


Social media and news outlets earlier this week were raving about Rousey's 34-second knockout of previously undefeated Bethe Correia, who challenged her women's bantamweight title. For comparison, 34 seconds is the amount of time it takes the average human to walk down the average aisle of a supermarket.

She's an Olympic bronze medalist in judo-turned-mixed martial arts fighter, and her fights before the one this past weekend have lasted 14 seconds, 16 seconds, and 1 minute and 6 seconds. So in the time it takes to finish this sentence and write an email, that's Rousey's average right now. When you think of it that way, it makes sense that she's 12-0 and considered the best female mixed-martial fighter in the world.

In a television interview earlier this year, she credits her bronze finish in the Olympics as a driving factor for her present success: "I think it's because I didn't win the Olympics, I've become really grateful for that, as the years have passed... I can have so much more motivation... The reason why I'm more motivated than any of them could ever be is because I didn't win that gold medal." A lesson to us all that anything we perceive as a shortcoming can become our greatest asset.

Many remember when UFC impressario Dana White notoriously responded "never" when asked when the world would see women in the UFC. Four years later, White describes Rousey as the biggest superstar in the entire organization.

Rousey has been referred to as a "transformative athlete" often this past week, and it's well-earned. Many of her wins and fight moments are extending beyond UFC fans to constitute themselves as bona fide cultural moments. Rousey's fight this past weekend certainly became one all in itself!

It's undeniable that women in sports have been taking the spotlight this summer, paving the way for many more to come. I want to celebrate Ronda this week for all of her successes, and for showing women that we can dominate at anything we set our minds to - in 34 seconds or less.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Jen Welter

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This week I would like to give the spotlight to a very special first, the second football first I've honored this summer, after Sarah Thomas became an official referee. On Monday, the Arizona Cardinals announced that they hired Dr. Jen Welter, PhD, to coach in its training camp/preseason, which makes her the first woman to hold a coaching title in the NFL.

As a Tuscon resident, I'm proud of the Cardinals for making this choice, and making history! Welter, 37, will coach the inside linebackers for this upcoming season. The team's first training camp practice will be on August 1st.

What many don't know about Welter is that this isn't the first time she's broken a glass ceiling in professional sports - she has played in men's and women's professional football leagues, and she was also the first woman to hold a non-kicking position when she played as a running back last year with the Revolution. For the Revolution she also worked as a linebacker coach.

Welter took to Twitter to discuss her new title, tweeting: "In my Cinderella story. I was transformed in a football uniform, helmet, & cleats not a gown, a crown, & heels!" She also added: "I am honored to be a part of this amazing team."

She has a master's degree in sports psychology and a doctorate in psychology, and this week I want to celebrate not only all of her many accolades, but also the way she is embracing her role as a trailblazer - and sending that message to girls.

"It shows them that anything is possible, and that's so beautiful," Welter said, "Unfortunately I think the hardest thing in our society right now, no offense, is the media. We show little girls all the time to be beautiful and to do it all the wrong ways. We show them as accessories, for no other better way to put it. We teach them very early on to be pretty, marry well, and then act badly and you'll get on TV. That's what they grow up thinking that fame is or success is. I want little girls to grow up knowing that when they put their mind to something, when they work hard, that they can do anything."

Thank you, Jen, for breaking yet another glass ceiling, and for proving to young women in sports that anything truly is possible.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Margaret Hamilton

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


This past Monday we celebrated the 46th anniversary of the Project Apollo, the successful American lunar landing. It was an incredible feat for America, and for humanity - the personal bravery showcased made it an unforgettable event for all those who sat infront of their television screens and held their breaths as Neil Armstrong took those historic first steps. But at the heart of the lunar triumph, millions of miles away back on earth, it was a woman who played a major role in making it all happen, and that woman is Margaret Hamilton - the programmer who saved the moon landing.

While Neil Armstrong may have been the first human to walk on the moon, the efforts of the aeronaturical and hardware engineers that made the entire effort possible cannot be overlooked. The software for the guidance computer, making navigation possible by assisting and controlling the spacecraft, was written by a team at the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which was headed by Hamilton.

In speaking about the photo above, Hamilton said: "In this picture, I am standing next to listings of the actual Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC) source code. To clarify, there are no other kinds of printouts, like debugging printouts, or logs, or what have you, in the picture." That's right, it's all just Hamilton and her code!

Hamilton coined the term "software engineering," and has seen the field grow into a prestigious profession - one where there is still a need for women. In an interview on the subject, Hamilton said: "I began to use the term 'software engineering' to distinguish it from hardware and other kinds of engineering. When I first started using this phrase, it was considered to be quite amusing. It was an ongoing joke for a long time. They liked to kid me about my radical ideas. Software eventually and necessarily gained the same respect as any other discipline."

At present, Hamilton is 78 and runs Hamilton Technologies, a company she founded in 1986. Also at present, Fortune's list of "unicorn companies," named for privately held tech startups worth $1 billion or more, was released. Just four of the companies on the list have female CEOs, which is 5% total. This number needs to change. Let's all celebrate Hamilton's accomplishments this week as we think back on the historic lunar landing - and also let us be reminded that women in tech helped to pave the way.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Harper Lee

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


With the sequel to one of America's most revered novels releasing yesterday, this week I want to celebrate Harper Lee for her courage in releasing Go Set a Watchman, accomplishing one of the biggest strides in her career as an author in her late 80s, and giving us all another chance to discuss the important issues of equality.


The Watchman manuscript was shelved for more than half a century, until Lee agreed to publish it and give generations of Mockingbird fans another chance to join Finch and Atticus back in Maycomb, re-examining issues of racial equality and other societal dialogues.

Though the book's publication, and even content, have stirred some controversy, it's impossible to overlook Lee's illustrious career and contributions to American literature, making her one of the greatest American writers of our time. Like in Mockingbird, which sold 40 million copies to date and earned her the Pulitzer prize, she has already received praise for her character dialogues, accute comedic eye, and knack for having a finger on the societal pulse of the times.

Personally, I have yet to see Mockingbird on the screen or read the original, but I believe she was ahead of her time. I'm excited by the thought that there are other manuscripts of hers that lie waiting to be found - very clever lady!

While many are focusing on Go Set a Watchman at the moment, I also want to recognize Lee for her other many honors over the years. In 2007 she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2010 she received the National Medal of Arts.

So this week I celebrate Harper Lee for the release of her second, much anticipated, novel, her contributions to American literature, and all she has done to keep dialogue of important issues in the forefront for generations.

Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Sallie Krawcheck

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Sallie Krawcheck is no stranger to the executive board. Her women's group, Ellevate Network, teamed up with Pax World Investments to launch and index fund that would invest in companies with strong representation of women at the top. This week I'm celebrating Sallie for making change happen, and using her position to further the pursuits of equality for women in corporate America.

She has spoken publicly lately about pay parity and better financial counseling for women, raising awareness and get the media talking about these important issues, particularly as female presidential hopefuls take the spotlight.

Research has shown that companies with greater diversity at the top also tend to perform better financially. She said that in the years to come, the impact of poor financial management will be evident in the economy as large numbers of women end up alone in retirement without the money they will need - largely due to a $14 trillion retirement savings gap.

In a recent interview with The Washington Post, Krawcheck said: "Research has just been research. This index fund, by investing in the top 400 companies in the world for women - by percent of women on the board [or] percent of women in senior leardership teams - is a way of expressing that investment case."

Thank you, Sallie, for taking a stand for women and getting these important conversations going in the public arena, making change happen! Or, in her words, for moving "from advocacy of women to the smart business of real investment in women."


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Misty Copeland

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


Yesterday, Misty Copeland made ballet history by becoming the first African-American woman to be promoted to the highest rank of the American Ballet Theatre: principal dancer. This is a first in the company's 75-year history. This week I want to congratulate Misty for this monumental achievement, for following her dreams and taking them all the way.

She first joined the company in spring of 2001, and often spoke of her desire to be named the first African-American woman to be named a principal dancer at the company.

In her memoir, "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," which came out last year, she said: "My fears are that it could be another two decades before another black woman is in the position that I hold with an elite ballet company... That if I don't rise to principal, people will feel I have failed them."

After 14 years, she achieved her goal, and became a noteable figure along the way: she was the first ballet dancer to appear in an Under Armour advertisement last year, she appeared in a Diet Dr. Pepper commercial, and even danced on top of Prince's piano in 2010. The Under Armour commercial earned more than four million views on YouTube within its first week. The tagline they used was "I will what I want." That is true of Misty today.

Misty started practicing ballet at 13, and has followed her dreams all the way through. Olympic gold medal gymnast, Nadia Comaneci, commented on her story in Time, saying that she "followed her dreams and refused to give up." She went on to add: "She is a model for all young girls... It doesn't matter where you're from. If you have the passion like Misty, you can be the best at what you do."

That's something we can all take away from Misty's story, because her story is one of a woman who wasn't afraid to follow her dreams, pursue her passion, and take it to the top. She has a bright career ahead of her, no doubt inspiring countless young dancers of all racial and ethnic backgrounds to follow in her footsteps - or, I should say, ballet slippers.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Wednesday's Woman of the Week: Sheryl Sandberg

by Susan Bulkeley Butler


First, she changed lives with her Lean In message. Now, she's reminding us what it means to be human: to be successful in business, and to live a full life with all of its ups and down. I want to celebrate Sheryl Sandberg this week for all she's accomplished, and for redefining the ways in which we discuss personal tragedies inside and outside of the workplace.


Sheryl's list of accolades are so impressive it would take multiple blog posts to cover them - so here's a snapshot: she's the COO of Facebook, noteable woman billionaire, featured in Time's 100 Most Influential People in the World list, best-selling author, and activist and founder of the Lean In movement.

At present, she's also adding "human being" to that list. The Facebook post she wrote after the loss of her husband, Dave Goldberg, may be one of the most raw, personal messages we've heard from women leaders in the past year, and it's all about being human.

"A truly equal world would be one where women ran half our countries and companies and men ran half our homes," Sheryl wrote in Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead. The goal of the Lean In movement is to encourage women to lean in to positions of leadership, because having more female voices in leadership positions will lead to the creation of more equitable opportunities for everyone. In her book, which has sold more than one million copies, she opened a conversation about gender equality and reminds us that we need to examine the societal barriers that hold women, and our world as a whole, back from achieving leadership roles and fostering change.

Over the last two months, Sheryl reminds us that our workplaces and executive boards need, and can thrive, on our humanity. She writes candidly about how many of her colleagues faced difficulty in finding the "right" way to acknowledge her tragedy, and what she needs from them: "When I am asked 'How are you?' I stop myself from shouting, 'My husband died a month ago, how do you think I am?' When I hear 'How are you today?' I realize the person knows that the best I can do right now is to get through each day."

"I have lived 30 years in these 30 days," Sheryl wrote,"I am 30 years sadder. I feel like I am 30 years wiser... I have learned to ask for help, and I have learned how much help I need. Until now, I have been the older sister, COO, the doer and the planner."

In writing about the nuances of her experience, dealing with grief in the workplace, she highlights that emotion and "lacking executive presence" should not be mutually exclusive. In fact, she's standing up for open and honest discussions, citing that our discomfort with our own humanity is causing disconnection in the workplace.

So this week I want to honor, and thank, Sheryl, not only for sharing her own humanity, but for helping to give ours a place both in the workplace and on the leadership board.


Wednesday's Woman of the Week is a weekly feature. If you have any recommendations, please feel free to let me know on my Facebook page or on Twitter. I'd love to hear about the inspiring women in your life!

Women Count White Border
$24.95, Hardcover
256 Pages
September 2010
Purdue University Press

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