Become a #Changemaker
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#changemakers | Stacey Abrams
Stacey Abrams is here to stay. She’s the badass we couldn’t stop talking about in 2018 as the first black female nominee for Governor by a major party. In case that’s not enough, she’s also a small business owner, lawyer, and a writer. So basically… Superwoman. Stacey isn’t afraid to speak her truth and use what makes her human to her advantage.
Last week, the Democrats picked Stacey Abrams to respond to the State of the Union. She’s the first black woman to do that, too. Like us here at Deeds Not Words, Stacey believes in the power of telling your story. In fact, she’s published eight romance novels, cranking out her first one while studying at Yale Law School. She’s the child of Methodist ministers down in Georgia who taught her the importance of “faith, service, education, and responsibility.” She is a deep believer in working together to extend equal opportunity to all Americans.
Even though Stacey lost her race for Governor by a tiny margin, she’s not going away anytime soon (whew!). For now, she’ll continue to work passionately to assure that everyone has an opportunity to speak at the ballot box through her work to make elections fair again. We are so grateful for her passion and talent and look forward to her next run for office.
Fun fact: Stacey is a University of Texas alumni and received her degree in Public Affairs at the LBJ School!
When we show up, act boldly, and practice the best ways to be wrong, we fail forward. No matter where we end up, we’ve grown from where we began.
#changemakers | Ashley Arevalo
College is about more than just studying. #Changemakers like Ashley Arevalo show us that you can make major waves as a student too. She’s a badass with a style blog who also heads a student-led movement for Period Equity. At Texas A&M Corpus Christi, Ashley founded the school’s PERIOD.chapter to erase the stigma surrounding our periods. Periods are cool y’all. If you want to learn more about the insanely intricate and even beautiful way your body makes a cycle, here’s a handy chart.
Plenty of students have shown that you can hit the books and be activists at the same time, and Ashley is no exception. This year, she organized students for free tampons and pads campus-wide. Her mission started with a student petition that racked up hundreds of signatures. Dressing up in red, students marched on campus to raise awareness for the need for free menstrual products. Because why should stocking the bathroom with TP be any different than tampons and pads?
Ashley and her friends definitely got the school administration’s attention. Last week, the University President announced that free period products will be available to students by Fall 2019. Ashley with the W!
Last week, the University President announced that free period products will be available to students by Fall 2019. Ashley with the W!
Alice de Rivera
#changemakers | Alice de Rivera
In 1904 Stuyvesant High School, an accelerated academics school, was established as a standard training school for boys. Even though several schools in the area had been co-ed since the late 1940s, Stuyvesant remained an all-male institution until 50 years ago this month when a female student from a neighboring school in Brooklyn, Alice DeRivera, filed a lawsuit against The Board of Education after she was rejected from the school due to her gender.
Rather than defend itself in court, The Board of Education instead sided with DeRivera’s lawsuit and demanded Stuyvesant end its gender-based discriminatory admissions policy. While DeRivera ultimately did not attend Stuyvesant because her family ended up moving to upstate New York that same summer, her lawsuit paved the way for twelve girls to attend Stuyvesant in the fall 1969 as the first class to include female students.
After the 1969 school year, female admissions at the school dramatically rose to 223 the following year, and today, young women make up about 40% – 45% of the student body. While DeRivera may not be an alumni of Stuyvesant, her willingness to point out institutional injustices has impacted generations of young women who have graduated from the school. We are inspired by DeRivera’s courage to step up and challenge the status quo!
While DeRivera may not be an alumni of Stuyvesant, her willingness to point out institutional injustices has impacted generations of young women who have graduated from the school.
Coretta Scott King
#changemakers | Coretta Scott King
While most recognized for being the spouse of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Coretta Scott King, who passed away in 2006, has her own powerful history and legacy in the movement to end racial discrimination.
As a leading participant in the Civil Rights Movement, King understood the importance of women in the work and used her position to advocate for female voices. She urged, “Women, if the soul of the nation is to be saved, I believe that you must become its soul.”
After her husband’s assassination in 1968, Coretta Scott King devoted her time and energy to developing social programs and building the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change as a living memorial to her husband’s life and dreams. For over forty years, she traveled throughout the world speaking out on behalf of racial and economic justice, women’s and children’s rights, LGBT recognition, the needs of the poor and homeless, and nuclear disarmament. Today, we observe Martin Luther King Jr. Day not just because of what her husband fought to achieve, but also because of Coretta Scott King’s tireless advocacy to ensure that our country respected the work of the 1960’s Civil Rights Movement. She understood that we must continue to build on that legacy. If we truly want to honor the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his wife, Coretta Scott King, we need to take up the torches they lit and recognize that it’s now our turn.
Struggle is a never ending process. Freedom is never really won, you earn it and win it in every generation.
Dr. Bernice Sandler
#changemakers | Dr. Bernice Sandler
Earlier this month, we said goodbye to Dr. Bernice Sandler, better known as the “Godmother of Title IX,” who spent decades advocating for the rights of women in higher education.
After she was met with continued rejection for teaching positions at the University of Maryland, despite her well earned and qualified credentials, Sandler realized the discrimination she felt was part of a more significant problem. She decided to take action by launching a campaign to make it illegal for federally funded educational institutions to discriminate on the basis of sex. Joined by the Women’s Equity Action League, Sandler challenged 250 institutions to adopt better policies and coordinating an extensive letter-writing campaign. In 1972, her work was picked up by the Health, Education and Welfare Department where it would eventually form into the Title IX policy we know today.
Thanks to Dr. Sandler’s work, we now see more women and girls with the opportunity to attend college with the support they need to succeed. It’s now our jobs to continue her work and ensure that Title IX remains intact…
Sex prejudice is so ingrained in our society that many who practice it are simply unaware that they are hurting. It is the last socially acceptable prejudice.
#changemakers | Susan Zirinsky
The longtime producer of CBS News will soon be taking over as head of the network this March, making history as the first time a woman will lead the network’s news division. Susan Zirinsky, upon whom the incredible 1980’s movie Broadcast News is based, is already a barrier-breaking and award-winning producer for her work on the Gulf War and 9/11. Her promotion follows a chain of sexual harassment and assault allegations made against some of the network’s top executives including Jeff Fager, Charlie Rose, and Les Moonves.
Addressing the recent scandals and her plan to take the network into a more equitable and accountable space, Zirinsky said, “The #MeToo movement isn’t behind us, it’s alongside us in our thinking.”
After years of credible allegations against predatory men at the CBS network — we’re glad to see a woman emerge to take the lead and demand better!
The #MeToo movement isn’t behind us, it’s alongside us in our thinking.
#changemakers | Ke'Yonna Hall
Deeds Not Words: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Ke’Yonna Hall: Hi friends! I’m Dallas native, Ke’Yonna Hall. A proud first generation high school and college graduate. I earned my dual B.A. in Sociology and B.S. in Criminal Justice from the University of North Texas (UNT) and am currently a Master of Social Work candidate at the University of Texas at Arlington. At 24 years old, I have made quite the career of service. As an undergraduate student, I served as a Congressional Intern in the U.S. House of Representatives and was quickly distinguished as a force for change, earning Congressional Recognition Awards for Outstanding Constituent Services and Tour Management. That experience was transformative for me; It was then that I decided to prioritize giving that same level of dedication to causes that promote access and opportunity for marginalized communities, such as her own. Thereafter, I became an advocate and organizer in my hometown, helping to create a nonprofit organization that seeks to bring systemic change For Oak Cliff and serving as the Grassroots Organizer of a reproductive justice organization. When I am not working, I enjoy spending time with my younger brother, Theron.
DNW: How are you currently working to make change in your community?
KH: Currently, my time is split between advocating for policy changes that will benefit the needs of residents in my hometown – Oak Cliff, serving as a Leadership ISD Fellow, a Moorland YMCA Youth Development Committee Member, and developing the curriculum for the Movement Mujeres fellowship program and our Deeds high school and college chapters – breaking down issues like racial justice, bail reform, economic justice, affordable housing, LGBTQ rights, gender equity, and reproductive justice in a way that youth and young adults are LIT (fueled) to then drive systemic change. Earlier this year, I served on the inaugural Community Advisory Board to the Chief of the Dallas Police Department, as a Peer Advisor for the Obama Foundation Community Leadership Training Day held in Dallas, delivered my first TEDx Talk, and have spoke on countless panels across the state offering my thoughts and insights on the need for root cause analysis of the issues we face. For my commitment to service, I have earned awards like the University Speaker Award at the University of North Texas and most recently have been deemed a ‘Community Server’ – a 2019 Dallas Weekly Millennial to Watch Awards Honoree.
DNW: How do you keep yourself focused, motivated, and energized?
KH: I like to say that I am motivated by the powerful desire to help others. I know that statement isn’t very telling of the steps I physically take to stay focused, motivated, or energized; but, it is what I mentally hold on to. Grappling with the reality that my livelihood and that of so many people connected to me, is situated at the intersection of ever-changing complex systems, often prescribes me double doses of feelings of “burnout” and discouragement.
To slightly paraphrase the beautifully transparent words of my dear friend Mercedes though, “I don’t let my feelings of discouragement or helplessness leave me critiquing from the bench and burying my head in my sheets each morning. Instead, my optimism and powerful desire to help others forces me to engage, energize, and work to build the world, state, city, and neighborHOOD I want to exist in.”
DNW: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to become more active, but doesn’t know where to start?
KH: First, find an issue or cause you’re passionate about. Next, do a Google and Social Media search for organizations or people in your commUNITY who are already doing work on that issue. Then, show up for them by volunteering your time or applying for a position within their organization. Lastly, do a #Deed each day that showcase what commUNITY means to you and simultaneously brings awareness of the issue you’re passionate about.
If you’re a person who values a concrete example, here’s one: I am passionate about ensuring youth in my #commUNITY have access to resources that they need so I actively do #Deeds that really center those needs. Last year, after recognizing the gap between many of their aspirations and their needs, I piloted the Secure The GRAD program; a financial preparedness program that offers one on one assistance to students soon-to-be transitioning out of high school and into college and the workforce. My mentees collectively earned over $70,000 in scholarships and are currently wrapping up their first semester as an undergraduate or serving as a City Year Americorps Member.
If you’re a person who values a concrete example, here’s one: I am passionate about ensuring youth in my #commUNITY have access to resources that they need so I actively do #Deeds that really center those needs.
#changemakers | Andrea Reyes
Deeds Not Words: Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Andrea Reyes: I am a proud Chicana born and raised in El Paso, and recently relocated to Austin. I have a fat basset hound who I adore nicknamed, “la Gorda”. I graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a dual degree in International Politics and Microbiology. My hobbies include: traveling (I’ve been to 32 countries!), watching movies, and advocating for immigrant rights. My favorite accessory is my megaphone and some quirky earrings.
DNW: How are you currently working to make change in your community?
AR: I feel incredibly lucky to be working for a women-led organization that stands for women’s social and economic opportunity, access to reproductive health, freedom from sexual assault, and equal representation in every space and at every level. I am beyond happy to form a part of our new collaborative movement: Movement Mujeres, which, seeks to disrupt the current hierarchies and male-dominated structures in government, policy and the non-profit sector in a state that has left the voices, leadership and issues of women of color excluded and underrepresented in the institutions and policies that most impact our lives. I genuinely believe that change comes from our own backyards, and because of that, it is important to begin organizing in our own communities.
DNW: How do you keep yourself focused, motivated, and energized?
AR: Working to revolutionize the system is hard. Learning how to engage other young people about the issues that matter most to them, and training ordinary people to fight for what matters to them has left a persistent fire within me that pushes me to never give up. I love listening to people’s experiences, and gaining new perspectives, it is really energizing to me.
Pushing for change and not immediately seeing results can be very draining. It’s always super important to take a step back and appreciate how much has been accomplished every day. I like to keep a journal by my bed to let go of my thoughts from the day so that I’m able to disconnect from the job instead of internalizing any negativities; this way I am fresh-minded and focused for the next day! I am really into self care routines when I’m overwhelmed. It’s often easy to forget to take care of yourself when doing our kind of work. I’m guilty of always forgetting to drink water or go outside to breathe fresh air, so I have color coded post-it notes everywhere in my life with motivational quotes, reminders, and pictures of loved ones or issues I’m passionate about that remind me why I do the work I do. During my time off I like to completely disconnect and read poetry, go hiking, or clean my apartment while wearing a face and hair mask (I intentionally schedule spa days into my calendar.) Treat yo’ self, you deserve it!
DNW: What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to become more active, but doesn’t know where to start?
AR: Just do it! Start small and build! Activism can stem from anywhere, anytime; exchanging thoughtful discourse over dinner with a family member, engaging a friend to attend a day of action with you, calling your representative and if they don’t answer; writing them! Small persistent actions can make big waves of change. Search for new perspectives! The worst thing you can do to yourself is limit your self-growth. One voice doesn’t encompass every issue. So, search out other perspectives and recognize your own privilege. Seek to understand rather than to be understood. Our work is ongoing, hard, and continuously changing so be adaptable and don’t take things personally. Be active in your own community before wanting to change the world. A huge part of activism is just knowing what’s going on in the world and understanding how to apply change locally. Most importantly.. ASK! Go to everything, talk to everyone, until you find a niche where you can grow and help others grow. Change takes time. Keep in mind that there will always be something to fight for, and laying the groundwork for activism means building a community of people who can all work together on important issues rather than creating a cult of personality around one person. If you’re stuck, don’t give up. Try something new and at the end of each day; reflect on what you’ve learned.
Activism can stem from anywhere, anytime; exchanging thoughtful discourse over dinner with a family member, engaging a friend to attend a day of action with you, calling your representative and if they don’t answer; writing them!
#changemakers | Cassandra Levesque
At just 19 years old, this week’s #Changemaker has accomplished more in her short life than many ever do — and she’s just getting started.
As a Girl Scout in New Hampshire, Cassandra Levesque first made a name for herself when she took on her state legislature to end child marriage and raise the age of consent. While several lawmakers scoffed that she was only a child (ironic right?), she was able to build enough public support to change the age of marital consent to 16.
Recognizing her gift for making change, and that she was more qualified than some of the current representatives that she’d encountered, Cassandra’s next move was to run for office. This year, at just 19 years old, she launched a campaign for State Representative — AND SHE WON.
Cassandra Levesque is the definition of a #Changemaker. Hopefully, we’ll see more young women just like her step up to run in 2020!
It’s really empowering and exciting to see what’s next for the youth movement, this wave of youth going through politics and being heard.
The Houston 19
#changemakers | The Houston 19
There’s not just one #Changemaker this week, but 19 – the #Houston19! These 19 African American women were elected to serve as judges in Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston and outlying areas.
In a state where women of color are 28% of the population, but make up just 12% of state court judges, the election of the Houston 19 is an important step toward diversifying the legal system where they’ll serve as family court and misdemeanor criminal court judges.
Members of the Houston 19 include: Ramona Franklin, Germaine Tanner, Sandra Peake, Maria Jackson, Angela Graves-Harrington, Cassandra Holleman, Latosha Lewis Payne, LaShawn Williams, Dedra Davis, Tonya Jones, Linda Dunson, Toria Finch, Ronnisha Bowman, Lucia Bates, Erica Hughes, Michelle Moore, Lori Chambers Gray, Shannon Baldwin, and Sharon Burney.
Of the win, Angela Graves-Harrington said that they “wanted to have something out there that we could be proud of, that our community could be proud of and that Harris County could be proud of.” Mission accomplished, Judge. Job well done!
We look forward to the mark that these amazing new jurists will make on the landscape of justice.
Young Women Voters
#changemakers | Young Women Voters
This week’s #Changemaker is a collective: all of the young American women who are showing up and VOTING in this midterm election. If you are one of them, or you plan to be, thank you!!
Young women have the power to change American government, and you’re certainly using it in this election. You’re casting votes to elect women to office, helping to rectify the wide gender gap in Congress. And you are bringing your own political perspective to the table, retaking control of conversations about health care and abortion rights.
If you’re eligible to vote, then vote! Get to the polls today! If you’ve already voted, take the time to motivate a friend or two to do the same! If you live in Texas, check out govotetexas.org to find your polling place. Young American women can and will make their voices heard! And you WILL be the difference in this election.
#changemakers | Jazz Jennings
The Trump administration may be trying to define away transgender identities, but activist Jazz Jennings isn’t worried. In an interview with Huffington Post, she reminded her readers that “The government doesn’t have power over you — people have power over the government. And you’re the people.”
18-year-old Jazz is a prominent activist for transgender rights and the star of “I am Jazz,” a reality show that follows the transgender teen’s coming-of-age experience. Jazz has also published a children’s book, Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen,” and founded TransKids Purple Rainbow Foundation with her parents to assist transgender youth.
Jazz is an amazing role model for American youth. By working hard to make her story accessible to everyone, Jazz is helping to diversify the often homogenous landscape of American media. We are so grateful for her efforts. Jazz, YOU ARE A TRUE CHANGEMAKER! And we are in awe of you.
The government doesn’t have power over you — people have power over the government. And you’re the people.
#changemakers | Edith Valle
TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF:
Edith Valle: My name is Edith Valle and I am an artist and graphic designer based in Austin, Texas. When I’m not creating art, I am consuming it whether it be through books, music, literature or film, sometimes all at once. Other activities include trying to be a better dog mom for my little puppers Perla.
You can find me at @ediththetacoqueen on Instagram
HOW DO YOU CURRENTLY WORK TO MAKE CHANGE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?
EV: I currently work at Deeds Not Words as their digital designer where I make graphics for online and print. At deeds, I strive to make graphics that represent women, women of color, and gender non-conforming.
Outside of Deeds I am a freelance artist. By freelancing, I’ve been able to take on projects such as painting murals, designing books, creating illustrations, and making graphics for social media. Most of these projects that I’ve done have been for local businesses and nonprofits.
I’ve also have a residency at the Risograph Lab at St.Edward’s University where I organize lectures that center around publications and how they can create communities. I, along with another resident, make an effort to seek women, people from the LGBTQ+, and people of color to present their work to students and the Austin community. In addition to that, we also organize workshops on making posters, postcards, and zines on the Riso. These workshops are always open to the public and our participants take something with them that they can share.
By being honest and being conscious of who I am creating things for, I’ve felt that people really respond to that and feel like they can relate to my work. When I organizing safe spaces for learning and creating, I love to hear people inspired to start a new project or simply relieve stress. I’ve seen people empowered and also healed. Two feelings I often get when making art myself.
HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF, FOCUSED, MOTIVATED, AND ENERGIZED?
EV: I often see too many non-latinos and men trying to tell my story and telling it wrong. I spent my college years constantly trying to find women of color who are illustrators, painters, or designers in the Austin community who are telling their stories but their voices were often drowned out by all of the cis men taking up space in the art scene. Now, through organizing and women uplifting each other, there are so many emerging artists and makers I’ve been able to connect with! Seeing them thrive and use their talents to help others gives me the energy to continue working and being that inspiration for someone else.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO’S LOOKING TO BECOME MORE ACTIVE, BUT DOESN’T KNOW WHERE TO START?
EV: I think listening, having the willingness to learn, and asking questions on why certain issues matter to people is a great start. There are also plenty of organizations out there doing the work and they always need help! When you reach out and ask how you can help, you will most likely be received with open arms.
#changemakers | Lynzy Lab
Lynzy Lab doesn’t buy that “it’s a very scary time for young men in America.” To prove it, she wrote “A Scary Time,” a catchy ukulele song that compares the necessary safety precautions taken by women to the so-called “burdens” imposed on men by the #MeToo movement. Lynzy shows that it’s not such a hard time for men, after all, and encourages listeners to vote on November 6.
In addition to a songwriter, Lynzy is an award-winning choreographer and dance instructor at Texas State. She’s choreographed a poignant dance inspired by the #MeToo movement–you can check it out on her Youtube channel.
Here at Deeds, we admire creators who use their art for change. And make sure you take Lynzy’s suggestion and vote this November!
#changemakers | Nadia Murad
This was a rough week. After the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, many in the fight to end sexual harassment and violence were left wondering “where do we go from here?”
If you’re in need of a little inspiration (and trust me, we were!), look no further than this year’s Nobel Peace Prize winner: Nadia Murad. A survivor of rape and captivity by ISIS, Nadia Murad was just awarded one of the worlds highest honors for her work to end sexual violence in war-zones.
Having been held by ISIS for three months until her escape, Murad has used her story to advocate for women, to end the shame that is often experienced by survivors, and to stop human trafficking.
If you’re looking for a bit of encouragement this week, check out her essay on why storytelling is the best weapon you have. Thank you for reminding us that speaking our truths is essential when trying to change the world for the better, Nadia. You are a true #Changemaker and we love you. ❤️
Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila
#changemakers | Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila
As is often the case, our winning “#Changemaker” of the week is actually more than a single individual. Maria Gallagher and Ana Maria Archila, the dynamic duo who confronted Senator Jeff Flake in the elevator last week just minutes before the Judiciary Committee vote was scheduled to take place on Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, may have changed the course of history.
Each of them a survivor of sexual assault, these two women who had met only hours before, took their chance to confront the Arizona Senator just after he had formally announced his support for Kavanaugh’s nomination. Through tears, they shared their stories and demanded that Senator Flake do the right thing and not ignore the voices of survivors. “Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies!”
Their actions may have made all the difference, because when Senator Flake returned to the Judiciary Committee he joined with Democrats in asking for an FBI investigation. That investigation is taking place, even as you read this. We hope it has not been limited in scope so much that it will fail to yield the truth.
But, regardless, Maria and Ana showed all of us that you should never give up, even when you think the fight is over. We’re so grateful for their efforts!
Don’t look away from me. Look at me and tell me that it doesn’t matter what happened to me, that you will let people like that go into the highest court of the land and tell everyone what they can do to their bodies!
Teens Are Speaking Up About Their Abortions Through Youth Testify
#changemakers | Teens Are Speaking Up About Their Abortions Through Youth Testify
Youth Testify, a new initiative launched by the National Network of Abortion Funds (NNAF), allows young women who’ve had abortions an opportunity to advocate for new reproductive health care reforms and abortion access. Through this leadership program, 13 advocates spanning 17 through 24 years of age can share their personal abortion stories and use their experiences to shed a light on needed policy reforms and to debunk misinformation campaigns.
Here at Deeds, we’ve always believed that the best advocates for policies that directly affect young people, are, well, young people. Too often, today’s youth is ignored and characterized as immature or ill-informed, when in actuality they’re problem solvers who offer valuable perspectives. We’re so excited to see more programs like this take shape across the country and to see the incredible young women who are stepping up to lead them.
#changemakers | Ayanna Pressley
This week, Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley shot to stardom when she won a primary upset against a 20-year incumbent. Having had little to no help from the political establishment, pundits were shocked when she pulled off a seemingly “out-of-nowhere” win.
However, to those who’ve been following her career, this was far from an out of the blue victory. Ayanna Pressley has a long history of defying the odds and breaking glass-ceilings.
Having grown up in a single parent household to a politically active mother, Ayanna learned at a young age the positive impact local government can have when it takes the time to listen and work with the community.
When she first ran for the Boston City Council, though, her positivity for change was met with traditional political skepticism and predictions of failure. Ever the persister, Ayanna preserved by focusing her campaign on the Boston community and rejecting tired political rules. In a crowded race of fifteen, with her being the only female candidate, Ayanna Pressley became the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council.
And like a true leader, she brought more women up with her.
Today, there are now five women on the Boston City Council, four of whom are women of color. And now, Ms. Pressley is set to break another glass ceiling – becoming the first black woman ever to serve Massachusetts in Congress.
Never stop persisting, Ayanna! You are an inspiration to us all.
Let me be abundantly clear: I am black, and I am a woman, and I embrace both of those facts.
Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/ayanna_pressley_946314
#changemakers | Maddy Wilford
Maddy Wilford showed her strength this summer interning at a hospital after being one of the victims of the shooting at Parkland High School in Florida. However, she didn’t intern at just any hospital. She returned to the hospital where she was previously treated and where her life was saved thanks to five operations over the course of two days. She returned not just to visit, but to learn how to help save lives as hers had been saved. While she still carries the scars and psychological impacts of what she endured at Parkland High, she participated in her internship with strength and leadership, even helping with surgeries. Maddy’s bravery shines through her every action. With her service dog at her side, she’s back at school with her classmates – many of whom America has come to know through their gun safety activism.
We stand with all of the survivors of this terrible act of violence. And we applaud those like Maddy who are turning their trauma into a force for good. Maddy is a role model for others wanting to take that next step in their healing process. And she’s an inspiration to all of us. We ❤️ you, Maddy and can’t wait to see what the future holds for you!
#changemakers | Mariana Taylor
Mariana Taylor, a student at Catonsville Middle School, has been making national news this month for taking a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance in her fifth-grade classroom. At only 11 years old, Mariana explained that she protested standing for the pledge because of, “…sexism and racism and a lot of wrong things going on in the country.”
While she was immediately reprimanded by her teacher and pushed to the brink of tears, Mariana continued to hold her ground and even defended her position to the Baltimore County Board of Education.
Citing Tinker vs. Des Moines and her own Public School code, Mariana explained to the board, “I have the right to kneel if I don’t feel comfortable standing.”
It takes a lot of guts to stand your ground and speak truth to power — but it takes a particular kind of courage to do it as an 11-year-old. You go, Mariana! We are beyond inspired by you! 👊
I have the right to kneel if I don’t feel comfortable standing.
#changemakers | Aimee Allison
This week’s #Changemaker is a fighter, a mover and “shaking up” democracy as we know it. Aimee Allison, President of Democracy in Color, wants the world to know that the future isn’t just female. The future spreads across religions, across races and across sexual identities. Democracy in Color is both an organization and a podcast. The podcast focuses on empowering people of color to feel safe and comfortable going to the polls and running for office. Allison’s newest initiative, She the People, focuses its efforts directly on energizing women of color. Their mission is to change the dialogue around a new progressive cultural era by adding much-needed voices of women of color to the mix.
Did you know that only five women of color have EVER served in the US Senate? Well Allison is seeking to change that. The extraordinary women that she highlights are making history, and Allison is right there with them, supporting them from one initiative to the next. As their representation grows in halls of power, all of us will benefit from the important perspectives that each adds to the conversation. Aimee Allison, we are listening. We hear your rally cry to stand with our sisters from all walks of life. We stand with them and we stand with you!
#changemakers | Sarah Cunningham
This week’s #Changemaker went through her own big change when her son came out to her at 21-years-old as being gay. She loved her son, but was also very committed to her religion. Feeling conflicted by the two forces, she attended a Pride Parade with her son in 2014. There, she realized something important: she loved this beautiful LGBTQIA+ community and she no longer wanted to alienate herself from it.
Since Sarah Cunningham’s awakening at that Pride Parade, she’s created her own movement called “Free Mom Hugs”. Following her lead, women come from all over to join her at Pride Parades to give out “free mom hugs”. Cunningham created a Facebook post after realizing that many people who wanted their mothers at their weddings had mothers who had distanced themselves from them after they came out of the closet. Cunningham’s solution? Become a stand-in mom. She was already ordained to officiate weddings, so her motherly instincts kicked in naturally to help at these weddings. We applaud this mother and stand with her and the LGBTQIA+ community in their right to love and marry who they choose. Hug your loved ones, let them know you stand with them. Way to go, Sarah Cunningham! YOU are a #Changemaker!
#changemakers | Kheris Rogers
During a class assignment when students were asked to draw a picture of themselves, Kheris Rogers will never forget the moment when her teacher handed her a black crayon rather than a brown one, making a statement about her dark complexion that deeply embarrassed her at the time.
Turning to her grandmother for advice, she was told not to let others bully her into shame, and to instead “Flex in your complexion.”
Today, Rogers has launched her own clothing line to encourage other girls to be empowered and to flex their own complexion. Through the hashtag #FlexinInHerComplexion, she’s started an online movement of women sharing stories of similar bullying while growing up and a network of women celebrating and supporting one another for their individual beauty.
With over 10,000 #FlexinInHerComplexion t-shirts sold, Rogers with the assistance of her sister, has made over $100,000, joined by the help of some big name celebrity supporters.
Rogers is helping young women of color across the country feel proud and confident through her simple act of encouraging and sharing stories that push the reset button on what it means to be beautiful in America and elsewhere.
“I’m telling other young kids that they can do anything they want to do.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves, Kheris. Much love and wishes for a phenomenal future, from us to you.
I’m telling other young kids that they can do anything they want to do.
Arthur Ashe Courage Award Recipients
#changemakers | Arthur Ashe Courage Award Recipients
This week’s #ChangeMaker award goes to the survivors who, in Aly Raisman’s words, became “a force” against Larry Nassar. In a court case that lasted seven days, 156 women testified against him after he’d spent decades abusing these women as a USA Gymnastics and Michigan State doctor. While their claims were ignored for some time, the women who received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award on July 18th at the ESPY’swould not go quietly into the night. Instead, they owned the power of their stories, turning the conversation about their experiences to one that gave credence to their strength as survivors, rather than placing attention solely on their abuser.
While only survivors Aly Raisman, Sarah Klein and Tiffany Thomas Lopez spoke onstage of their experiences, they were joined onstage and off by survivors of sexual assault from across the world. Their courage opens doors for more survivors to come forward and makes it more acceptable for them to speak out. They closed with a call to action, inviting other survivors to speak up and be believed so that abusers like Nassar are no longer able to spread their abuse across generations. These sister survivors are beyond brave. And we are proud to join the ESPYs and others in recognizing their inspiring and #Changemaking acts of courage.
To all the survivors out there, don’t let anyone rewrite your story. Your truth does matter. You matter. And you are not alone.
The Women Defending Migrant Children on Our Border
#changemakers | The Women Defending Migrant Children on Our Border
This week’s #ChangeMakers are bringing justice to the children separated from their families and cruelly placed in immigration processing centers. We draw inspiration from Allegra Love, founder of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, Robyn Barnard, an immigration attorney with Human Rights First, Swapna Reddy, Co-Director of Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project, Jennifer Anzardo Valdes, director of the Children’s Legal Program at Americans for Immigrant Justice, Christina Fialho, co-founder of Freedom for Immigrants, Michelle Brané, director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, and finally, Jessica Morales Rocketto, political director of the National Domestic Workers Alliance. These women have switched careers to help others. Each of them has a unique story of why she is involved in reuniting families, but each story generally starts with going to one of the facilities where they held children and saw their distress and the terrible conditions that they are living in. These #Changemaking women are committed to working with parents to get them out of detention centers and even out of prison so that they can be reunited with their children. The stories shared with them are of trauma, fear, mistreatment, and confusion but also, of hope. Giving immigrant families legal aid provides the only bright spot for many of them and provides them something to hold onto in the face of tremendous difficulty. None of these cases are easy, and we thank these #Changemakersfor making the border a safer place for those seeking asylum, for those looking for a better life in the states.
Giving immigrant families legal aid provides the only bright spot for many of them and provides them something to hold onto in the face of tremendous difficulty.
Annie Clark and Andrea Pino
#changemakers | Annie Clark and Andrea Pino
This week’s #changemakers finally got justice after a five-year federal investigation into their former university’s compliance with Title IX, which requires that colleges and universities provide safe learning environments for women and men alike. After experience sexual assault themselves, Annie Clark and Andrea Pino filed complaints with their university, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, back in 2013. Their complaints asserted that the university was not protecting its students from instances of sexual assault and had done nothing to prevent those assaults. In response to their complaint, Annie and Andrea were told to “protect themselves” with very few resources or information to do so. These women were just two among the many that believed their school was not complying with the requirements of Title IX.
While it took five years for the federal investigation to reach a conclusion, Annie Clark and Andrea Pino did not sit idly by. Instead, they’ve done everything in their power to end sexual assault on college campuses. In 2014, they worked with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Senator Claire McCaskill to reform how the government treats sexual assault cases. They co-founded the organization, End Rape On Campus (or EROC) which has established chapters on college campuses throughout the country, they co-wrote “We Believe You,” a book to provide support for survivors of sexual assault, and their stories and work were featured in a compelling documentary, “The Hunting Ground.”
Now, after five years of waiting, the Federal Office for Civil Rights ruled in Annie and Andrea’s favor, determining that UNC was not following the correct procedures when complaints of discrimination based on sex were filed. UNC is now required to respond to Title IX complaints faster and more appropriately.
Along the way, Annie and Andrea have teamed up with and worked alongside scores of other women and university systems. We commend them both and the many others who have worked to ensure that campus communities are safe places to learn.
We believe you.
600 protestors arrested for staging a sit-in
#changemakers | 600 protestors arrested for staging a sit-in
The women of this week’s #Changemaker shout-out had ZERO tolerance for Trump’s zero tolerance immigration policy. So they staged a sit-in this week, bravely demonstrating on the floor of the Senate Hart Office Building, wrapped in foil blankets and in solidarity with each other to protest the separation of immigrant children from their parents and their detainment in tent cities. The sit-in lead to the arrest of almost 600 participants. In true “Alice Paul” fashion, they showed up, spoke up, and put themselves on the line to fight back against the separation of families.
Congressional members sat side-by-side with these protestors, chanting to abolish ICE and reunite families. And they said it best, that this is “What democracy looks like.” Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York took to Twitter later with a public call to “Abolish ICE.” And among those arrested was Representative Pramila Jayapal of Washington. “This is about right and wrong,” she said.
As Rep. Jayapal’s call to action on Facebook said, “We have to stand up and put ourselves on the line,” Well she certainly put action behind her words. And that is what democracy looks like. ??
We have to stand up and put ourselves on the line.
New Zeland Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
#changemakers | New Zeland Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern
This week, New Zeland Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern became the second prime minister in history to give birth while currently serving in office.
In an era where childbearing is still widely considered a professional liability, Ardern is an example that women can choose to both lead and have families.
When there are still so many glass ceilings that have yet to be broken, and while the battle for workplace equity and pay rages on, this news from New Zealand is a reminder that every day new barriers are being broken down and that world leaders come in all kinds of forms.
Hopefully some day soon we’ll even see a woman and a mom in our own White House!
When there are still so many glass ceilings that have yet to be broken, and while the battle for workplace equity and pay rages on.
#changemakers | Lulabel Seitz
Lulabel Seitz spent her high school career as a model student. The first in her family to graduate from high school, she earned her spot as her Northern California school’s valedictorian and was granted the honor of giving the class commencement speech at her graduation.
But, at just 4 minutes into her graduation speech, as Lulabel began addressing the issue of sexual harassment and assault, the school where she had devoted so much of her young adult life promptly silenced her by turning off her microphone.
We don’t think anyone should be cut off when speaking their truth, raising awareness and enlisting others to join the fight. Seems like maybe there are a few administrators at Lulabel’s school who could learn a lesson or two from her, rather than the other way around.
We’re so proud of you, Lulabel Seitz! And we can’t wait to see what the future holds for you. #LetHerSpeak
#changemakers | Lavinia Masters
At just 13 years old, Dallas resident Lavinia Masters was raped at knife-point by a by an intruder who broke into her family’s home as they slept. While the police were immediately notified and a rape kit was collected from Lavinia at Parkland hospital, more than twenty-one years would pass before Lavinia’s kit would finally make it’s way off the shelf for testing. Once it was, and the information was put through the DNA database, Lavinia’s perpetrator was finally identified. But since the statute of limitations had run out eleven years prior, it was too late for her to receive the justice that she deserved.
In the face of this devastating news, Lavinia set out on a quest to assure justice for other survivors. And that has meant advocating relentlessly for clearing the rape kit backlog and reforming the way our communities treat survivors of sexual assault.
Today, Lavinia works as a survivor advocate across the country, and she has played an enormous role in the work being done to clear the rape kit backlog. Rather than simply view the backlog as a number, Lavinia always makes sure that survivors are never forgotten. We could go on and on about what an amazing inspiration Lavinia has been to all of us here at Deeds Not Words, but we think you need to hear directly from her. Watch here (starting at the 26 minute mark) as Lavinia testifies before Congress on her experience as a survivor.
We love you, Lavinia. We’re so grateful that you are fighting for survivors and humbled to be a part of your journey!
Today, Lavinia works as a survivor advocate across the country, and she has played an enormous role in the work being done to clear the rape kit backlog.
The women who told their stories about Eric Schneiderman
#changemakers | The women who told their stories about Eric Schneiderman
In the age of the #MeToo movement, Eric Schnedierman painted himself as the portrait of a feminist ally. He vowed to fight for the victims of Weinstein, hold corrupt government officials accountable, and move legislation forward that would provide support to survivors of sexual assault. He seemed, in short, like a legal superhero. So when four women came forward with their own stories of systematic physical and verbal abuse — it was shocking.
Speaking truth to power is never easy. It’s even harder when that power commands the office of the New York Attorney General and is a self-proclaimed champion of women.
If you haven’t had an opportunity to read this week’s New Yorker piece and hear the powerful stories of these women, please do. Their stories deserve to be heard. Their experiences demand justice.
Each time someone gathers the courage to come forward and speak truth to power about the abuse they’ve endured, it emboldens another person to find the courage to do the same. Thank you to these four brave women who’ve paved the way for someone else to speak up. By calling out their own sexual and physical abuse, they’ve taken an important step in hastening the end to this kind of behavior.
Speaking truth to power is never easy.
#changemakers | Mandy Manning
For the past seven years, Mandy Manning has taught English to immigrants and refugees from her classroom in Spokane, Washington. She has been widely praised for her dedication and compassionate approach, and this week she was honored as National Teacher of the Year.
This alone would be enough to maker her our #Changemaker of the week.
However, it was the statement she made when receiving this award this week at the White House that really grabbed our attention. Embodying the true meaning of “deeds not words,” Mandy staged a silent protest to the Trump Administration by wearing pro-immigrant and LGBTQ pins and delivering letters from her students to the President. “The thing about our immigrant and refugee students is that they have this innate hopefulness. They have gone through very, very difficult experiences, but they see coming to the United States as an opportunity. They feel that they can have dreams, and that they can potentially achieve those dreams. It’s really quite beautiful, actually, because no matter what — no matter what they experience — they still have this hope, this resilience.”
We couldn’t have picked a better winner for this year’s Teacher of the Year Award. Thank you Ms. Manning, for inspiring your students to believe in themselves and for inspiring us to keep fighting for their ability to turn their dreams into reality.
The thing about our immigrant and refugee students is that they have this innate hopefulness.
#changemakers | Sadie Hernandez
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Sadie Hernandez: My name is Sadie Hernandez and I’m a 23 year old reproductive justice advocate from the border town of Brownsville Texas. You will never see me without my phone or a manicure, and you can follow me on twitter at @sadieeehdz.
How are you currently working to make change in your community?
SH: I work at Planned Parenthood Texas Votes, so I spend most of my time digitally organizing for reproductive rights in Texas. I make sure our online outreach makes women’s politics in Texas understandable, relatable, and shareable. It is especially important for my community in the Rio Grande Valley to access care, so I make sure fight at the Capitol for their rights by visiting the offices of our legislators to pass on the stories and feelings of people I get from back home every time something happens.
I also work with Advocates for Youth closely to fight for reproductive rights for young women of color on a national level.
When I first started reproductive rights advocacy, I realized the lack of representation for Chicanos and Latinxs, working class people, and young people. Because of this, I make sure to center my communities in all the work we do. This means taking advantage of my placement in predominantly white upper class spaces, using my privilege to speak to people outside of the Rio Grande Valley and Texas about the issues we’re facing and the resilience of our community, and calling people like me in to the movement and calling bad politicians out. I mostly do this through media and news outlets, because that’s one of the most accessible ways for Texans of color to see this information.
How do you keep yourself focused, motivated, and energized?
SH: First off, Lady Gaga, Cher, and Cardi B keep me energized.
But on a serious note, I keep myself focused, motivated, and energized with the stories I hear from Texans across the state. From Brownsville to Dallas, I’ve heard the good and bad experiences of healthcare in our system. This doesn’t end at access, but stories about how racism impacts communities, the ways undocumented people have to navigate the health system, the way people with government insurance and private insurance are treated differently, language barriers, and the list goes on. This keeps me going, because these injustices won’t end by me standing by in silence and inaction.
To be honest, I also do this for myself. I deserve access to quality healthcare regardless of the fact that I am a young working class Chicana. Moreso, the services I, and women across the US, access shouldn’t be determined by out of touch men who demonize and judge the way I live my life.
What advice would you give to someone who’s looking to become more active, but doesn’t know where to start?
SH: Find what you love to do and utilize your strengths to join the movement. There is no one way to resist. There’s regular organizing and volunteering which includes petitions, talking to people, and protesting, but sometimes that isn’t for everyone. For example, artists create and donate to organizations. I’ve seen regular paintings and drawings, resistance manicures, “protest cakes,” and my favorite – dragtivists. From experience I know introverts prefer to volunteer to do data entry. There’s something for everyone! I started off as a college student and volunteer on twitter, and now I’m a digital organizer. You can do it!
Find what you love to do and utilize your strengths to join the movement. There is no one way to resist.
#changemakers | Tatum Zeko
Tell us a little bit about yourself! Tatum Zeko: I’m a junior English major at the University of Texas (although I just registered for classes for my senior year, yikes!). I have a background in theater and creative writing. I went to a performing arts high school so I got all of this information about the arts growing up and it gave me an incredibly different take on life and humanity. I count myself as really lucky for my training in the arts because I got to see how deeply important the arts are to how people think and critically analyze their own growth and society’s growth, and honestly, it’s informed my choices in college and hopefully outside of college as well.
What are you currently working on to make change in your community?
TZ: I started interning for Deeds Not Words in January. The internship and working with these women has made me realize that activism isn’t just something that I’ll do in college, but something that I can do full time. On Monday, I sat on a panel with Wendy Davis, Rep. Victoria Neave, Rep. Donna Howard, a representative from Safe Alliance and a representative fromTAASA. The panel was after a screening of the documentary I Am Evidence. The documentary was so moving because the women that I Am Evidence focuses on don’t get their justice, but still they’re survivors and they’re strong, and in the end, they do get their justice. It was so informative and even though I know about the backlogs, I still didn’t know how bad it was. Sitting on the panel was one of the most amazing opportunities I’ve ever had. We discussed not only what we’re doing now, but also what we can do in the future. One of the questions was how to turn the dialogue from perpetrator empathy to victim/survivor empathy. We are living in a misogynistic, rape culture. I see it on campus every day. But through training on raising awareness, teaching people how to respond when a survivor discloses to them, getting people to go vote, we can have a consent culture. The impact of the panel was very evident because after, my mom, her best friend and I went to a restaurant and discussed how to make the world a better place. That’s the impact Deeds has. Deeds motivates you to say, “I don’t care that I have to get up early tomorrow, I can start fixing things now.” And I’m entirely grateful for my time with them.
What advice would you give to other young girls who are looking to make a difference, but don’t know where to start?
TZ: When the going get’s tough (and it will get tough) turn to your friends, but most importantly trust in yourself. If they know what you are passionate about, they will help, even if it means just listening to you rant. This is something that I still struggle with but my friends and my family are my best support group. They always know when I am bottling things up, they always know how to help me bounce ideas off them, but what I’ve learned the most is that they also know when to give me space to think. So many people that I work with have these amazing ideas. I love everything about them, but more often than not, the first thing that crosses my mind is, “How in the world are you going to pull that off??” And often, it’s on me to help them figure it out. Every time we pull it off, though, because trusting that you have the wisdom inside of you to get those really tough tasks accomplished is the first main part of getting these things accomplished
What’s are you biggest hopes/dreams for the future?
TZ: For the US, my biggest hope is for more women (cis and trans) representation in the government. Women are awesome, and men have been test driving the US for far too long, it’s about time for women to get behind the wheel.
For myself, I was trying to figure out what I want to do after college a few months ago, when my mom (she’s a superstar role model) asked me to look around and see what kind of job I liked. I told her I wanted to be Gloria Steinem. Well, they don’t really have a specific job for that, but I do want to continue making change. I want to be a #changemaker for the rest of my life, and that may be through being a writer or through being a politician or through being the next Gloria Steinem, however that change may take place through me, I know it will be good.
As you can imagine, we’re so incredibly proud of Tatum and the work she’s been doing with us here at Deeds and her work in the community. We would say that we know she’s going to do “great things” — but as you can see — she already is.
That’s the impact Deeds has. Deeds motivates you to say, I don’t care that I have to get up early tomorrow, I can start fixing things now. And I’m entirely grateful for my time with them.
#changemakers | Krithika Shamanna
After recognizing that many of her peers were missing school due to a lack of access to menstrual products, Krithika founded the LaunchPad Initiative in Westwood High School. Through organizing fundraisers and crowdfunding campaigns, she has been able to restock all bathrooms in her school with free products twice a week, every week. Krithika reached out to Deeds Not Wordsin hopes of taking her initiative to the next level. Last week, she presented a plan to the Austin Women’s Commission to encourage a permanent policy solution!
Tell us a little bit about yourself!
Krithika Shamanna: I’m a senior at Westwood High School and I’m super passionate about women’s rights!
What are you currently working on to make change in your community?
KS: A few years ago I started the LaunchPad Initiative to provide free feminine hygiene products at my school. Currently, I’m working with Deeds Not Words to lobby for legislation to provide free feminine hygiene products in all public spaces in Austin.
What advice would you give to other young girls who are looking to make a difference, but don’t know where to start?
KS: I would tell other young girls that everyone feels that way at some point or another! Making a difference doesn’t always require a huge change – you can always start small and build on it!
What’s are you biggest hopes/dreams for the future?
KS: My biggest hope for the future is that every city in the country will someday have free access to feminine hygiene products! I also hope for progress surrounding the stigma around menstruation.
Words can’t express how proud we are of Krithika! It’s passionate #ChangeMakers like Krithika who fuel our work and keep us feeling positive about the future!
Making a difference doesn’t always require a huge change – you can always start small and build on it!
#changemakers | Dolores Huerta
This week we celebrate the 88th birthday of epic activist and #ChangemakerDolores Huertas whose life and legacy are the quintessential example of women making lasting change for millions. Dolores, whose organizing work ranges from her famous partnership with César E. Chávez (together they founded the National Farm Workers Association) to political campaigning and lobbying, has made lasting civil rights improvements for immigrants, women, and children.
Her life is a testament to the power of one to change the world for millions. Happy birthday, Dolores!
That’s the history of the world. His story is told, hers isn’t.
#changemakers | Mariska Hargitay
On the 16th of this month, #Changemaker and Law and Order: SVU star Mariska Hargitay’s documentary “I am Evidence” will premiere on HBO. After making its debut at the Tribeca Film Festival last year, this profound documentary sheds light on the massive number of untested rape kits lying in wait, just on the other side of justice, gathering dust on shelves of police storage units across the country. As Mariska puts it: “It’s the most shocking demonstration of how we view these crimes.” Mariska is on a mission to bring this injustice to an end and to give voice to the 200,000+ survivors waiting for resolution of their sexual assaults.
Deeds Not Words will be hosting a screening of “I am Evidence” on April 16th at Alamo Drafthouse – South Lamar (get your tickets here). We look forward to supporting Mariska’s film and the brave survivors this film highlights!
It’s the most shocking demonstration of how we view these crimes.
#changemakers | Anna Campbell
This week’s brave #Changemaker, Anna Campbell, died this week in the name of freedom, democracy and equality. Originally from East Sussex in the United Kingdom, Anna could no longer watch the atrocities in Syria from afar. Last May, she traveled to the semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Northern Syria – Rojava, where Anna joined the all-female army unit known as the YPJ and fought passionately against Isis, fiercely defending freedom for the Syrian people.
Anna was adamant about heading to Afrin, under Turkish attack since January, and though many argued it was too dangerous, Anna was committed to defending the people there. “My government and the Western world left you alone to face the second largest army in NATO,” she said. “I won’t abandon you.” Anna’s convoy was hit by a Turkish airstrike on March 16th, where she died serving a cause she believed in to her core. Anna is the first British female to die in the conflict, and her death reminds us that the bravery of one person can inspire the world. Rest in Peace Anna Campbell. And thank you for giving the ultimate sacrifice in the name of making sure that the world won’t sit back while Syria continues to face death and destruction.
My government and the Western world left you alone to face the second largest army in NATO. I won’t abandon you.
Alicia Roth Weigel
#changemakers | Alicia Roth Weigel
We are a proud team here at Deeds Not Words. This past Sunday, our very own Alicia Roth Weigel gave an amazing speech at #SXSW that we’re still trying to get over. Alicia took the stage and delivered an inspiring and emotional story about her experiences as an intersex individual and the institutional ways in which the intersex community is marginalized.
Here’s a sneak peak at her remarks:
“My name’s Alicia. I’m named after a hurricane that hit Houston in the early 80s (so you should have an idea of what you’re in for…) but I’m originally from Philadelphia. I live in Austin. I am a runner. I love to dance, especially to reggaeton. Soup dumplings are probably my favorite food, and raisins are definitely my least favorite… they’re weird and shriveled. I have a tattoo of orchids on my shoulder, because they’re the symbol of a movement I’m part of because, oh, yeah I was born intersex.
Those are all parts of me, all aspects of my humanity and my existence. I don’t find any of them to be a threat to y’all’s existence… but doctors and society have deemed that last descriptor, the intersex one, “not ok”…
SO not ok, in fact, that they operated on me as a kid to remove certain organs that they didn’t deem “normal”. They tried to surgically remove that aspect of my humanity. Unfortunately they didn’t know it wasn’t that easy to take from me.”
Read the rest of Alicia’s story here.
I have a tattoo of orchids on my shoulder, because they’re the symbol of a movement I’m part of because, oh, yeah I was born intersex.
Texas Women Running for Office
#changemakers | Texas Women Running for Office
This week marked the beginning of the 2018 primaries, an event which served as the first opportunity in a regular election for voters to speak up and out about their dissatisfaction with political representation since the November 2016 election. Case in point: this week’s #Changemakers.
More than half of the Texas primary winners were women! With women of color being represented in the congressional primaries, Senator Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar could become the first two Latinas ever to represent Texas in Congress.
With a record number of women running for office across the country, Texas serves as a bellwether of what we can expect in upcoming races elsewhere. As you’ve heard it said before: You can’t make the team if you don’t try out. Well, if Texas is any indication, we’re going to see a lot more women making the “team.”
You can’t make the team if you don’t try out.
Evan Rachel Wood
#changemakers | Evan Rachel Wood
You may have seen her while binge-watching Westworld, or singing along to the Across the Universe soundtrack, but this week’s #Changemaker: Evan Rachel Wood is trading in Hollywood sets for the floor of Congress to advocate for the Sexual Assault Survivor’s Bill of Rights. This bill was passed in 2016 and provides protections to survivors on a federal level. However, its implementation on the state level has not occurred. Thanks to the bravery of Evan and her fellow advocates, the implications of Congress’ inaction in addressing sexual assault reforms has been brought to light.
Wood, who has been involved with the #TimesUp movement, shared stories of multiple rapes and also of abuse at the hands of her ex, providing a quintessential example of the violence and harm that our culture and government propagate each day. Evan is changing this by embodying the bravery, resilience, passion, and courage to share her story and change the culture itself. We stand with you, Evan.
I’m here today to use my position as an artist, survivor, mother, and advocate to bring a human voice to the population of 25 million survivors in the U.S.
#changemakers | Amy Sherald
Soon, the first painting of a woman of color, Michelle Obama, will be placed in the National Gallery. And it was painted by this week’s phenomenally talented #Changemaker – Baltimore based artist Amy Sherald. So, not only will Michelle Obama’s portrait be the first portrait of a black woman to hang in the gallery. It will also be the first painting to hang there that was painted by a black woman. Amy, who until recently was supporting her work by waiting tables, has received acclaim for her portraits because they so beautifully portray the extraordinariness of people who might otherwise be viewed as merely ordinary. This pivotal moment – the painting OF the first black First Lady painted BY the first black woman to be featured in the National Portrait gallery — is not only a critical moment in our country’s history but also in the recognition of Amy’s work. “I have a lot more to do with my life, and my life is my art. And so I’ll just keep painting. But she’ll [Michelle Obama] always be the highlight of everything.”
Amy’s work has centered on social justice since moving to Baltimore and she is well-known for painting people of color outside of the typical historical narrative, using gray skin tones to challenge notions of race. Her work often draws inspiration from her experience as one of the only black female artists throughout her art school education, and also from her own health. Amy has faced severe health challenges leading to a recent heart transplant surgery, making her accomplishments even that much more extraordinary. All of Amy’s passion, hard work and adversity have led to this pivotal moment. Her work will be immortalized in the halls of the National Gallery for evermore.
I have a lot more to do with my life, and my life is my art. And so I’ll just keep painting. But she’ll [Michelle Obama] always be the highlight of everything.
#changemakers | Recy Taylor
This week the world watched (some of us with some unease) as President Trump delivered his first State of the Union Address. This week’s #Changemaker Recy Taylor (who recently passed) was silently honored during the speech as lawmakers dressed in black and wore red pins – honoring her legacy and standing in solidarity with the #TimesUp movement. Although Trump’s speech may not have highlighted the widespread change in attitudes towards sexual violence sweeping the nation, Recy’s legacy and those wearing and sharing her message, brought awareness to all the important work Recy strived for during her life.
Highlighted in Oprah’s famous Golden Globes speech last month, Recy Taylor was a survivor of gang rape by six white men in 1944. Because her attackers were not brought to justice, Recy herself became an outspoken advocate and civil rights hero. Recy’s niece Rose Gunter, who cared for Recy in her final days, also attended the State of the Union this week- signifying that time is truly up, and that intersectional justice for women, especially women of color, can no longer be ignored. Thank you to Recy and Rose, for their bravery, resiliency and courage. We will continue to work towards the justice you deserved and the world you worked towards your entire life.
They threatened to kill her if she ever told anyone . . . Recy Taylor died 10 days ago for too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dared speak their truth to the power of those men.
#changemakers | Samantha Romero
It was Valentine’s week when I had an abortion. I was very fortunate to have had my abortion early in 2013 — before Wendy Davis filibustered Texas’s HB2 and the clinic shutdown law went into effect. At this time three years ago, I was blissfully unaware of all that was happening in Austin.
I was in love with Stanley. We were young and recent college grads. But we were both underemployed and financially insecure. On top of that, at 24, I was only beginning to understand relationships. Understanding compromise between two is challenging enough, I couldn’t begin to think about three. We were in no way prepared to be parents. I know although I had Stanley, I felt alone because my pregnancy was something I kept from everyone, including my mother and my sister.
Not wanting my parents to find out through our insurance, Stanley and I went to what we thought was a “clinic.” The crisis pregnancy center only talked about adoption and child-rearing. I was lied to. They talked about beliefs that weren’t mine. They spoke down to me about love, the cosmos, and the beauty of life. EXCEPT. They weren’t talking about my life.
Thankfully I was old enough to not be so impressionable. I was mature enough to know what I wanted my future to look like. I was wise enough to know myself, my mind, and my body. I thanked them for the free pregnancy test and I promptly made an appointment at Reproductive Services for an abortion.
I made my decision with Stanley’s full support and I walked into the clinic ready to take back the reigns of my life. But then I waited and I waited. I had to wait through unnecessary infomercials, I had to watch videos about the procedure. I had to wait through unrealistic disclaimers and was told there was a chance I could get breast cancer. I waited for them to offer a sonogram I didn’t want to see. From there, I was forced to wait 24 more hours. When seeking an abortion, time is of the essence, BUT the whole process was created to take up time.
For a long time, because of all the stigma, I felt ashamed. However, I do believe in myself and in the decisions I’ve made. I was fortunate and privileged in my experience. I had access to healthcare, despite the legislative obstacles created for me. I want other people to understand that they deserve the same options and opportunities that I had access to. Not everybody is that lucky. That’s why the West Fund is so important to support.
Since my abortion, I’ve been incredibly blessed. I got to move across the state to work for Battleground Texas and Wendy Davis; I’ve attended and traveled to different conferences in and out of the state on community activism; I’ve returned to school to work on my Masters; AND I now have an awesome job for a badass advocate.
I also want to share that now, I’m a voter. I’m a feminist, sociologist, a model extraordinaire, and a very happy queer Latina. I’m also pleased to report that now, after my abortion, that I do know a little more about love, the cosmos and the beauty of life.
I want other people to understand that they deserve the same options and opportunities that I had access to. Not everybody is that lucky.
Claudia Yoli Ferla
#changemakers | Claudia Yoli Ferla
My Mother’s Dream
Harriet Tubman once said, “every great dream begins with a dreamer.”
When I was eight years old, my mom had a dream. Just a few weeks after my little sister passed away, my mother made the difficult decision to migrate to the United States. Despite her pain and sorrow, she dreamed of providing me with opportunities my little sister would never have.
So, I grew up in El Paso, a border community surrounded by mystic mountains, where everyone always understood the complexities of the immigration system. And like many immigrants here, my mom and I adopted the values of this country as our own.
During my high school senior year, my mother became very ill and my family decided that the best option for her was to move back to Venezuela. Despite her leaving, I stayed here to pursue a higher education, my own American Dream. Unfortunately, the biggest challenge for me and millions of other immigrants in this country is that some want to make our dreams unattainable, even though we have already sacrificed so much. We are subject to violent immigration practices that tear our families apart and force us to live in fear, and unable to access basic needs like health care and education.
However, just because we are not citizens, it does not mean we are in the shadows. Over the years, I have worked to help register voters, elect candidates, and support policies that I believe were best to improve our communities. I believe in the power of storytelling and often share my story to educate others on issues that affect us all. Despite not being eligible to vote, this is how I give undocumented immigrants like me a voice.
Although politicians have denigrated immigrants and painted our border communities as unsafe, it is important for immigrants and allies to stand together. This allows us to strip away the hateful political rhetoric, and focus on people, our stories and our power.
Immigrants are your friends, neighbors, classmates, and more. To say we are not Americans, is to say we are different, but we live in the same cities, we go to the same schools, we speak the same languages, and more importantly, we have a common dream.
I wasn’t able to be with my mother when she passed away, but I know that she would be very proud of all of my accomplishments. She was the original dreamer, and no one should ever criminalize her act of love. The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program didn’t provide me with an immigration status, but it protected me from deportation and allowed me to work in the United States. For many of us, it meant an opportunity to achieve our dreams.
I now function as the Director of Student Outreach and Organizing at Deeds Not Words, and I take pride in being part of a network of #ChangeMakers who advocate for social and political progress. At Deeds Not Words we are committed to support women’s rights and other marginalized communities. We stand with DREAMers and their families. Now, more than ever, it is imperative that Congress do its job and pass a clean DREAM ACT, a bill that will protect 3.5 million undocumented youth like me from deportation and provide us with a rightful pathway to citizenship. We are American in every meaningful way, and we are part of the American future. We are not bargaining chips for a border wall. ¡Hoy nuestra lucha continua!
I’m in this fight because undocumented immigrants are an integral part of the resistance and we won’t let small minds tell us our dreams are too big. I’m Claudia Yoli Ferla. I’m from a birth that will always belong to my dear Venezuela, but from a heart that will always read “El Paso De Mi Corazon.” I’m a DREAMer; a feminist; an activist; a student; a future voter; a #ChangeMaker.
To say we are not Americans, is to say we are different, but we live in the same cities, we go to the same schools, we speak the same languages, and more importantly, we have a common dream.
Oprah Winfrey and Times Up
#changemakers | Oprah Winfrey and Times Up
We recently honored the “silence breakers” as our #changemakers, saluting the bravery and courage of those who’ve come forward against the power of men who’ve wronged them. This week we recognize the TimesUp organization: a concrete catalyst of this movement which brings legal assistance to all who have been wronged by sexual harassment and violence. Many have been wondering if #metoo would be a moment in our collective history or a movement, pushing the arc of justice and history into a better future for us all. I think it’s safe to say that debate is closer to being settled.
The TimesUp movement came to a head this past week at the Golden Globes and was particularly embodied in the speech given by Oprah Winfrey, as she became the first black woman to receive the Cecil B DeMille lifetime achievement award. With hundreds in attendance dressed in black or touting Times Up pins in solidarity, Oprah spoke to the resilience of those who’ve suffered far too long in silence and catalyzed the hope for the new day which appears to be dawning. Congratulations to you Oprah and thank you to the TimesUp team and all they serve. We honor and support all of you.
For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up.
Robyn Alice McCutcheon
#changemakers | Robyn Alice McCutcheon
As we celebrate Trans Awareness Week, we are proud to honor Robyn Alice McCutcheon: a brave and inspiring #ChangeMaker who embodies the courage it takes to be your authentic self. Robyn was the first transgender diplomat to serve in the State Department as a Foreign Service Officer. Robyn’s transition was facilitated by Hillary Clinton, who was serving as Secretary of State at the time and had instituted anti-discrimination protections for transgender employees. Talk about a trail-blazer!
The young transgender girls growing up today will go further, live their lives fully, and make the world an even better place than it is today.
#changemakers | Danica Roem
We applaud allthe campaigners, grassroots activists, and politicians taking a stand this year; you are making history! Especially Danica Roem, the first openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature and an all around passionate, brave and inspiring soul. Danica embraces the values of equality, respect and inclusion that we at Deeds Not Words strive to promote. Danica Roem campaigned on local issues her constituents cared about, from improving local highways to supporting equal rights for all in her life-long home of Manassas, Virginia. Her win is not just a political victory, but a step forward for society and a glimpse at what the future will look like. Danica, we support you and the legacy of hope you are creating!
I’m Danica Roem, or as the Washington Post web editors like to call me, the transgender candidate.
#changemakers | Anita Hill
Long before #MeToo took hold or hashtags even existed, Anita Hill paved the way for women who are survivors of sexual assault in the workplace and their courage to come forward. She’s hoping the Weinstein lesson will trickle down from the experiences of the women he assaulted and the impact that their experiences had on Hollywood to one that creates a climate where all women are believed — not just rich and famous ones. Ms. Hill is still addressing inequality in the workplace, moving beyond harassment and now working to address pay equity as well. In a lecture she gave at Yale University, her alma mater, Ms. Hill stressed that pay inequity is about more than just gender; it’s also about where we focus our energy on fixing the pay gap.
People need to take this moment to make clear that this is not just about Hollywood.
#changemakers | Jane Doe
We proudly acknowledge “Jane Doe” as this week’s inspiring #ChangeMaker, and applaud the many advocates, lawyers and organizations who fought for her constitutional right to make her own choices for her body. Her identity hidden behind this alias, at 17 Jane Doe has already faced atrocities far beyond what her years should have prepared her for. Her story shines a bright light on the stigma, controversy, politics — and sometimes outright horror — of accessing abortion care. We honor Jane Doe, her journey to this country, and her bravery in exercising her right to bodily autonomy, even as the current Presidential administration tried to force a different decision upon her.
This is my life, my decision. I want a better future. I want justice.
#changemakers | Nydia Velazquez
In the wake of Hurricane Maria, the devastation across Puerto Rico has been catastrophic. The reaction by the White House have done little to repair (contrary to what the President says) the broken hearts and broken homes of the American citizens who live there. We stand in solidarity with New York Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez the first Puerto Rican woman to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Congresswoman Velazquez made a passionate speech regarding President Trump’s offensive tweets and unsympathetic actions toward Puerto Rico this week. We stand with you Nydia and applaud you for saying what needs to be said to the person who needs to hear it the most.
To kick fellow citizens when they are down is shameful!
#changemakers | Nadya Okamoto
The future really is female, y’all! Nadya Okamoto is running to become the youngest and first Asian-American City Councillor in the city of Cambridge where this ambitious and passionate 19-year old attends Harvard College – all while running her own non-profit, studying and trying to change the world. Nadya, who has experienced homelessness and domestic violence with her family during high school, realized the importance of menstrual hygiene and works as the Founder and Executive director of PERIOD, a non-profit that provides services and connects women with the care the deserve. Nadya’s political platform draws on her experiences to promote sustainability and affordable housing, and to bring a voice to a young generation looking to make an impact in the future we are creating for ourselves.
Always strive for larger impact and don’t take the failures of your start-up personally.
#changemakers | Gabby Giffords
Ms. Giffords survived an assassination attempt in 2011 which left the right side of her body paralyzed, damaged language centers in her brain, but also catalyzed her to passionately work to end gun violence. This week, Gabby Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, spoke publicly about the mass shooting in Las Vegas and pain that is all too familiar for our country. We join Gabby in calling on Congress to step-up and take on sensible gun violence legislation. We honor your courage and conviction Gabby. You are an inspiration!
Now is the time to take positive action to keep America safer. Do not wait. The nation is counting on you.
#changemakers | Raianna Brown
Meet Raianna Brown, the courageous Georgia Tech dancer in the photo from 2016, which resurfaced and went viral this past weekend during the NFL controversy about players taking a knee during the national anthem in support of social and racial justice issues. It’s important that we remember the young women who have long been part of this protest movement, initially started by Colin Kaepernick two seasons ago. Raianna proves that each of us has the power to make a powerful public statement in support of our beliefs. Again this year, her photo has been met with both negative and positive responses, but that won’t stop this #ChangeMaker! Way to go, Raianna. We #TakeAKnee with you.
It’s important to put yourself on the line, even if you’re nervous, and make a stand for something you believe in.
#changemakers | Savannah
It takes courage, determination and grace to be yourself in the face of establishments that close doors, minds and hearts to that very concept. This week we honor 12-year-old Savannah, who came out this past summer to her family, her Mormon church and now the world when this video of her testimony in her hometown in Utah went viral.
No part of me is a mistake.
Cathy De La Paz
#changemakers | Cathy De La Paz
This week a member of our team, Alicia, attended a Dallas-based workshop at SMU’s Embrey School of Human Rights to create a city-wide action plan to combat human trafficking. One of the inspiring and passionate speakers at this event, and our highlighted #ChangeMaker this week, Cathy De La Paz, is a veteran of the Dallas Police Department and an internationally renowned expert in the fight against the exploitation and trafficking of children.
It’s really about education and training to get the word out
#changemakers | Sage Carson
Sage Carson, is standing up to DeVos and her rhetoric that tips the balance of due process in favor of those who have been accused of assault rather than the victims of sexual assault themselves. As manager of Know Your IX, a survivor and youth led organization that has been recognized by POLITICO as one of the top 50 influencers on American politics, Sage is advocating for those whose lives will be most affected by DeVos’s next move.During her college years in Delaware, Sage created a Change.org petition to advocate for survivors. Just this week she helped coordinate a protest outside of Antonin Scalia Law School where Betsy DeVos was discussing her plans to overhaul Title IX. Sage is passionate and an important influencer who has huge impact on institutions and individuals across the United States. Thanks, Sage, for bringing hope and a voice to survivors and advocates everywhere!
The reality is one side is student survivors who have faced violence and simply want to have equal access to education, and the other is rapists who want to be able to abuse people freely.
Cathy Allen Rude
#changemakers | Cathy Allen Rude
Mid-wife Cathy knows that babies who are due won’t wait for the flood of Hurricane Harvey to dissipate before they arrive. So,she loaded up her equipment, hopped on an inflatable swan pool toy and was able to float on down to her birthing clinic to help bring a healthy newborn into the world. You’re an inspiration, Cathy!
Midwives will do anything to get to work. Riding a swan to get off my flooded street and make it to the birth center! Thanks, Celeste! You gave me a great ride!
Deeds Not Words Summer Fellows
#changemakers | Deeds Not Words Summer Fellows
Deeds Not Words is a team effort. From supporting our digital advocacy efforts to holding our local representatives accountable for the health of women, our young Fellows are truly changing the world. Thank you, Tony, Alie, Allie, Lily, Wesley, Zelenny, Andrea, Noor and Isabella for your dedication to our work and the world’s well-being. We expect great things from and for you in the future!
We came. We testified. We conquered. – Wesley Story
#changemakers | Heather Heyer
The racism and bigotry that occurred in Charlottesville led to the death of a young, beautiful, committed activist, Heather Heyer. Heather felt a deep responsibility. It was because she felt so strongly that she was willing to push through fear and show up to stand against the intolerance and bigotry that outraged her. If ever there were someone who represents what it means to live through deeds, rather than mere words, it was Heather.
You have to get so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.- Ladybird Johnson
#changemakers | Zoraima Pelaez
Zoraima is standing up for women in Texas and their right to safe abortions. Pelaez has earned a Truman Scholarship and has a 2017 Bill Archer Fellowship under her belt. Growing up, Pelaez saw both her sisters’ lives changed by teen pregnancy and has witnessed the resulting cycle of poverty. Because of this Zoraima has shared her own personal and powerful abortion story and is unstoppable as she starts the next chapter of her life and heads to whichever prestigious law school that is lucky enough to have her!
Saying- ‘I did this, I am proud of my decisions, I am the woman I am today because of it–that’s really important for women to hear, even if they don’t agree with me or wouldn’t make the same choice.
#changemakers | Kim Updegrove
In our country half of our new mothers can’t provide healthy breast milk, mothers and babies need some help. Kim Updegrove, is the milk maiden of our dreams. She’s on a mission to provide lifesaving breast milk to babies, free of charge—while also providing an opportunity for lifesaving mothers to help little ones who might not make it without them.As the executive director of Mothers’ Milk Bank — the largest milk bank in the country.The organization also hosts the incredibly touching program “Teardrops and Milkdrops” which empowers mothers who’ve lost their babies to continue to give life by donating their milk.
But those women decide to donate milk as a means of facilitating the process of their grieving. They find it healing during that process.
Alicia Roth Weigel
#changemakers | Alicia Roth Weigel
This week’s #ChangeMaker is our own Director of Strategy and Communications, Alicia Roth Weigel who bravely shared her experiences and perspectives as a member of the Intersex community in an attempt to favorably sway opinion on the “Bathroom Bill.” In doing so, Alicia showed that she was willing to share something incredibly intimate about herself because she cared more about the possible impact of the Bathroom Bill than she worried about any negative consequences for herself. Alicia defines what it means to “forget to be afraid.”
I can tell my story as an intersex person to help raise awareness of people who’ve experienced similar struggles to my own. Hopefully I’ll break some of the stigma in the process.
#changemakers | Wendy Medrano
This week’s #ChangeMaker at only 9 years old(!) is taking a stand against SB4, speaking for families like hers who have been ripped apart by unfair immigration laws. Wendy Medrano has been speaking and protesting at the Texas Capitol this week, calling on state representatives to represent the will of the people.
It’s ridiculous for a 9 year old girl to be here and fighting for her family because they are scared of this hateful law… You all should be ashamed of yourselves!
Teen Vogue Op-Ed Signatories
#changemakers | Teen Vogue Op-Ed Signatories
This week we honor the 114 survivors of sexual assault and true #ChangeMakers for their brave and resounding voices in an open letter to Betsy DeVos in Teen Vogue. Today we join these Changemakers in solidarity to ask DeVos that very question. Who are you here to serve?
For us, this is personal, and traumatizing. From the moment we were raped or assaulted, the question of who protects us has haunted us all.
#changemakers | Dawn Trudeau
Dawn Trudeau, a self-taught programmer and former Microsoft executive, became part-owner of women’s’ professional basketball team the Seattle Storm in 2008. Trudeau, a lifelong supporter of Planned Parenthood, decided that in addition to a rally and a silent auction at the Seattle Storm’s July 18th game, five dollars from every ticket sold will be donated directly to Planned Parenthood.This is the first coordinated partnership between Planned Parenthood and a professional sports franchise to date.
Planned Parenthood gave me the choice of planning my life. It’s a very special organization to me
Amy Hagstrom Miller
#changemakers | Amy Hagstrom Miller
Amy Hagstrom Miller is the CEO of Whole Woman’s Health and a fierce proponent of reproductive rights. On behalf of women throughout Texas, Amy took a reproductive rights case all the way to the Supreme Court where, one year ago, Whole Woman’s Health secured a landmark victory over the Texas Department of State Health Services. Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt’s ruling overturned the unconstitutional regulations that had closed doors on thousands of women in Texas and shut down nearly ⅓ of all Texas abortion clinics.
Abortion is healthcare. And we will continue to repeat it until people understand this basic fact
#changemakers | Cathy Hughes
This week, #BlackBusinessMonth honors Cathy Hughes as our #BlackWomanBusinessOwner. Hughes is one of the wealthiest self-made African-American women in the US as the creator of Radio One media company. The rise of Radio One is an amazing story of Hughes’ dedication to the success of her business. Even as a single mother she continued to push to achieve her dream. Her influence within the world of radio broadcast created a safe space for women of color to succeed without barrier.
You have to keep your eyes on the prize, whether that’s running a business or rearing a child
Madam CJ Walker
#changemakers | Madam CJ Walker
The woman we’re recognizing this week for #BlackBusinessMonth is a major #TBT. Madam CJ Walker was the very first black woman to become a self-made millionaire back in 1905 when she started her own hair care line, specifically for African-American women. Walker’s legacy expands beyond her business success as she spent much of her life training other black women as sales beauticians. The social barriers broken by Walker’s achievement has empowered badass black women to conquer their own business empires!
I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.
Janice Bryant Howroyd
#changemakers | Janice Bryant Howroyd
This week for #BlackBusinessMonth we are honoring the amazing success of Janice Bryant Howroyd, founder and CEO of ACT-1 Group. Howroyd is the first black woman to own a billion-dollar company, building from scratch what is now the largest woman-minority-owned staffing agency in the US. From humble beginnings to millionaire status, Howroyd’s presence in the business world has revolutionized female success one glass ceiling at a time!
The only thing I wish to be applauded for is simply for being another woman building a great business
Bozoma Saint John
#changemakers | Bozoma Saint John
August is #BlackBusinessMonth. For the next four weeks, we will be spotlighting some kick-ass black women making waves in the business world! Bozoma Saint John kicks us off! Formerly the head of global consumer marketing for iTunes and Apple, Saint John recently became the first Chief Brand Officer for Uber. Her amazingly humanizing ad campaigns for Apple not only pushed for better representation in mainstream media, but also got her the job at Uber where she aims to change the company’s less-than-stellar record of its treatment of women. As an African-American single mom, Saint John is expected to make big changes within Uber’s corporate climate, and the tech industry on the whole. We could not be more excited to watch her do it! https://www.nytimes.com/…/22/st…/uber-bozoma-saint-john.html
I want things to be great for people of color and for women. For us to be able to show up at work, do our best work, and be appreciated for that work
#changemakers | Emily Graslie
Emily Graslie is the star of The Field Museum’s educational Youtube channel The Brain Scoop. Our #ChangeMaker has gained millions of youtube views by educating the public and serving as a role model for women in STEM across the world! This STEM star has earned a spot as #15 on the 2014 Guardian’s List of Top 30 Young People in Digital Media, the title of Best Celebrity Nerd in Chicago Magazine and the coveted keynote slot at the March for Science in Chicago.
I want to see more women in science and more women educators… and it starts by recognizing that there’s a problem, and it’s a problem that’s going to deter a large number of people.
Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher
#changemakers | Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher
The ever growing diversity of television has now welcomed standup comedians/couple Cameron Esposito and Rhea Butcher. This comedy duo has changed the way we watch television with their series Take My Wife, which chronicles their life as a gay comedic couple.This unique take on television romance will break barriers, not only for women but for LGBT inclusivity on screen.
I’m super proud of who I am and if I can make people laugh with me and learn a little something about me and my experience in life, that makes me very happy. –Rhea Butcher
#changemakers | Elaine Welteroth
Over the last two years Elaine has increased diverse representation in Vogue magazine, created additional feminist and activist content, all while increasing the magazine’s audience by 6.5 million visitors. She is the youngest editor-in-chief at a Condé Nast magazine, and only the 2nd person of color to be an EIC in the organization’s 107 year history. Elaine Welteroth is turning the page for successful women in media.
We’re a woke brand, and our readers are woke, too.
#changemakers | Jane Meyer
From the field to the courtroom, Jane Meyer, is catalyzing a critical precedent for women working, coaching, and competing in the often discriminatory world of college female athletics. Jane Meyer, former University of Iowa Senior Associate Athletic Director, recently sued the institution for gender and sexual orientation discrimination, unequal pay, and more scoring a $1.43 million win for herself and for women across the country. We are cheering for you and your courageous deeds, Jane Meyer!
This is for everyone and anyone who has fought against discrimination.
Gaby Rodriguez Corona
#changemakers | Gaby Rodriguez Corona
Gaby Rodriguez Corona, while a straight-A high school student, decided she would fake her pregnancy. As the youngest of eight children to a single parent, she witnessed six of them become teen parents – inspiring her to end the teen pregnancy stereotype via her senior project and eventually through her first book and Lifetime movie “The Pregnancy Project.”
Pregnant teens receive a lot of criticism and a lot of people telling them it’s the end of the road, which leads to a loss of hope. If no one else believes in them, why should they believe in them
#changemakers | Rabi'a Keeble
Rabi’a Keeble empowered Muslim women to take charge by opening a women-run mosque in Berkeley, California. Tired of entering through separate doorways into shabby women’s quarters in mosques, she decided “that Muslim women in America need to lead. We need to reflect the fact that we live in America.” The mosque will provide a unique safe space for women to talk about sexual assault, marriage counseling, mental health, and different interpretations of their sacred text.
I think that Muslim women in America need to lead. We need to reflect the fact that we live in America.
#changemakers | Deja Foxx
At just sixteen years old, Deja Foxx took the spotlight at Senator Jeff Flake’s town hall in Mesa, AZ where she schooled the senator about the impact defunding Planned Parenthood would have on her life and the multitude of people who also rely on the org for family planning and health services nationwide. Foxx raised, unapologetically, the question as to why a white man was making decisions about what women do with their bodies.
I’m wondering, as a Planned Parenthood patient and someone who relies on Title X, who you are clearly not, why it’s your right to take away my right to choose Planned Parenthood and to choose n…
Sara H. Rahman
#changemakers | Sara H. Rahman
Medical student, Sara H. Rahman, turned a patient’s hateful comment into an opportunity to raise awareness about Islamophobia. Instead of reprimanding her patient, Sara took to social media in order to demonstrate that hate can only be combatted by compassion: “I am Muslim. But I am also a doctor. I can offer you my skills to the best of my ability, regardless of how you feel about my identity.
I am Muslim. But I am also a doctor. I can offer you my skills to the best of my ability, regardless of how you feel about my identity.
#changemakers | Alejandrina Guzman
Alejandrina Guzman, is the first Latina student body president at The University of Texas at Austin, as well as the first different-abled student body president in the Big 12. In her campaign platform, she called for students to be the solution in ending campus sexual assault. Guzman intends to “inspire and motivate other students to pursue their passions, to know their dreams are absolutely valid and that they’re not alone.”
[I intend to] inspire and motivate other students to pursue their passions, to know their dreams are absolutely valid and that they’re not alone.
#changemakers | Maxine Waters
Maxine Waters, U.S. Representative from California, called out sexism and racism in media coverage of female politicians following Bill O’Riley’s derogatory comment about her hair. Waters helped others see that her treatment is symptomatic of the discrimination women face from the media, but refuses to let that slow her down. “We also know that when a woman stands up and speaks truth to power that there will be attempts to put her down. And so, I’m not going to be put down, I’m not going to go anywhere.
I’m not going to be put down, I’m not going to go anywhere.
#changemakers | Mia Goldstein
Mia Goldstein, President of Voices Against Violence on UT Austin’s campus, is a brave young advocate against sexual assault in the local Austin community. After attending Deeds’ advocacy training, she shared her own personal experience to empower other survivors by testifying for multiple bills to fight sexual assault in the 85th Texas legislative session.
I came to the realization about a month ago that being a student of UT I have an extreme amount of privilege and an amount of influence on the Capitol.
#changemakers | Katie Needle
Katie Needle, a ‘Medicaid enrollee and Planned Parenthood patient’, held no bars in schooling Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price on the various ways that Planned Parenthood helps women across the country. She didn’t hesitate to let him know why his healthcare plan, the American Health Care Act, makes no sense over a provider that helps over one million Medicaid patients every year.
How do you expect the millions of low-income women nationwide who depend on Planned Parenthood for these vital human services – basic needs – to access these things if PP were defunded?
#changemakers | Roma Guy
Roma Guy, long-time LBGTQ+ and women’s rights activist, was recently featured in the ABC Miniseries When We Rise. Roma’s dedicated career in social justice spans over 40 years when in the 1970s, Roma co-founded SF Women Against Rape and The Women’s Building – promoting inclusivity of the LGBTQ+ community in women’s empowerment. Roma continues to advocate for the LGBT health community, recently arguing against the AHCA: “We know how to fight, we know how to show up for our community, and we know how to win. That’s exactly what we need to do now.” Thank you for your continued dedication, Roma!
We know how to fight, we know how to show up for our community, and we know how to win.
#changemakers | Mildred Dresselhaus
Mildred Dresselhaus, was the first woman to earn a full professorship at M.I.T. and a pioneer in the science underlying nanotechnology – which is no small feat. At first she was told there wasn’t a space for her in physics, but Millie persevered: “People said you’re crazy…But if you think you’re right, stick to it. And we were right.” Millie was recently featured in General Electric’s initiative to bring more women into STEM. From organizing the first Women’s Forum at M.I.T. to earning the Presidential Medal of Freedom, we honor Professor Dresselhaus not simply for her professional accomplishments, but also for her advocacy for women in physics and engineering!
People said you’re crazy…But if you think you’re right, stick to it. And we were right.
Susan J. Fowler
#changemakers | Susan J. Fowler
Susan J. Fowler, experienced multiple instances of harassment and career setbacks due to blatant sexism while an engineer at Uber. She reported every injustice that she and other female engineers faced, and when the system failed to bring her justice, she disrupted the system. “When I asked our director about what was being done about the dwindling numbers of women in the org, his reply was, in a nutshell, that the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers.” Susan left the company and took her story to the outside world for her voice to be heard – not just for her, but for all the women in her shoes.
When I asked our director about what was being done about the dwindling numbers of women in the org, his reply was… that the women of Uber just needed to step up and be better engineers.
#changemakers | Laura Dunn
Laura Dunn, CEO of Deeds Not Words allied organization SurvJustice, took her frustration as a survivor of a college campus sexual assault and channeled it into a national campaign against sexual assault. In doing just that, she’s worked alongside Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden and Barack Obama to ensure justice is served for survivors across the nation. Laura’s goal: “People know if your civil rights get violated, you go to the ACLU. I want people to know if you get raped, you go to SurvJustice.” Learn more about Laura here.
People know if your civil rights get violated, you go to the ACLU. I want people to know if you get raped, you go to SurvJustice.
#changemakers | Elizabeth Warren
Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, has been a tireless fighter for causes near and dear to us. When in her recent battle against the confirmation of Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell silenced Warren with, “She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted,” little did he know his words on her persistence would become a mantra for women’s rights nationwide.
She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.
#changemakers | Sally Yates
Sally Yates, former Acting Attorney General, stood up against the controversial executive order which restricted many immigrants and refugees from entering the United States. Ms. Yates put her job on the line for the sake of others by refusing to defend an order she did not believe was lawful. “I did my job the best way I knew how,” she said at her Senate testimony. “I looked at this EO, I looked at the law, I talked with the folks at the Department of Justice, gathered them all to get their views and their input, and I did my job.” Although this action cost Ms. Yates her position as Acting Attorney General, she’s become a national hero.
I did my job the best way I knew how.
Abby Newell, Sarah Jones, Maddie George & Saniya Walawalkar
#changemakers | Abby Newell, Sarah Jones, Maddie George & Saniya Walawalkar
These UT Austin students are dynamos with diverse skills and passions but a common goal uniting them: making change. As former Deeds Not Words interns, these ladies brought academic rigor and a certain scrappiness to our organization making a long lasting impact. From securing stellar internships to pursuing PhD’s, these deedettes have set out to accomplish greatness in their future endeavors! Go, girls, go!
Starting at a young age, we are… taught to fit predefined beauty molds. If we can start to talk about our insides like we talk about our outsides, the importance of outward beauty seems trivial.
Micaela Elizabeth Canales
#changemakers | Micaela Elizabeth Canales
Micaela Elizabeth Canales is a young advocate for reproductive justice, fighting one of the toughest fights here in our home state of Texas. She uses a powerful combo of well-researched information and real, vulnerable story-telling to pack a serious punch through the written word. All we can say: work it girl!
To my fellow young Texans who believe in reproductive justice: it’s time to boot up. The upcoming session promises to be a rough ride, and we have to give them hell.
#changemakers | Minnah Stein
Minnah is committed to ending sexual assault, which she perceives to be one of the largest civil rights issues of her generation. To fight the root cause, she joined a community action program, EMPOWERU, to conduct local prevention and education programs throughout high schools in her county. Now Minnah also serves on the advisory board of a nonprofit called Stop Sexual Assault In Schools (SSAIS.org), an organization that works to end sex discrimination in K-12 schools. Keep up the great work, Minnah!
I… want to include as many people as possible in my efforts to help our community and our world become a better, happier place for each of us to live.
#changemakers | Kierra Jones
Kierra Jones, a student at Skyline High School in Dallas, Texas with a fierce commitment to social justice, has developed a talent in spoken word poetry as a creative outlet for causes she cares about. Inspired by what she learned about the sexual exploitation of children from the Nest Foundation curriculum, her piece, “I am Greatness in the Making” helps others put themselves in shoes of survivors to bring this tough issue closer to home. Kudos, Kierra!
I am greatness in the making. For I know I am great.
#changemakers | Akilah Ensley
Akilah Ensley leads the fight for reproductive justice and a seat at the table for people of color from her seat on the board of Planned Parenthood North Carolina. As a young woman, Planned Parenthood has an open door when Akilah faced tough yet necessary decisions about becoming a parent. The treatment she received encouraged her to act to ensure that every American, young and old, has an equal chance at a prosperous future! Thank you, Akilah, for your never ending dedication!
For my son, though, being black in America is about more than his skin color. It’s about power, confidence, culture and belonging.
#changemakers | Alexandra Grey
You’ll be seeing this up-and-coming actress, who happens to be trans, all over TV following her dreams and advocating for awareness. From Transparent to Drunk History, Alexandra is lighting up the small screen and challenging the norm of celebrity culture by doing so!
Let’s just love and respect each other. To any group of people who have it a little bit harder on this earth, know that you’re loved and remember to always be who you are and follow your dreams!
#changemakers | "Emily Doe"
The survivor of on-campus rape by then Stanford freshman Brock Turner came forward with an anonymous letter in Glamour that is honest, brave, empowering and, in it’s anonymity, universally relatable to any sexual assault survivor. Through this letter, “Emily” reminds other survivors of their worth and what they can become. In “Emily”’s estimation, “we are not defined by what happened to us in the past, but what we make happen in the future” – and we agree!
Victims are not victims, not some fragile, sorrowful aftermath. Victims are survivors, and survivors are going to be doing a hell of a lot more than surviving.