The New Rules of Fight Club, as Written by Women

Lisa-Suennen-photoThe post below originally ran on Venture Valkyrie on November 18.

BB8PORT.jpge204a4df-b817-46ad-a795-355912fc5e70OriginalIf you have any doubt that women’s roles are becoming more important in the workplace, look no further than the upcoming new Star Wars film. In the film, the main robot character, BB-8, has been designed to be female, according to news reports…and not just female, but pivotal to the plot and strong in character.

I love this new twist on Star Wars, as it occurs to me that it is our national standard to default to assuming most things are male, especially robots and CEOs, unless they are pink and purple and frilly. But most of the strong, fierce and successful women I know are neither pink nor purple nor frilly but are far closer to BB-8: curvy perhaps, but strong in character and pivotal to the plot. More often than not, they dress in black like the ninjas they are.Female-Ninja-ninjas-34049725-600-451

I read this story about BB-8 while on my way home from a retreat with a group of very senior female healthcare leaders.  It’s an organized group who meet once a year to share thoughts, stories, encouragement and support. (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Elizabeth Taylor

ElizabethTaylor2By any professional standards, Elizabeth Taylor is an extraordinarily skilled attorney.  What makes her special – and a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016 – is that she uses her gifts to improve the health and well-being of millions in need.

Taylor is executive director of the National Health Law Program (NHeLP).  The NHeLP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting and advancing the health rights of low-income and underserved individuals.  As the organization describes itself, “NHeLP defends the nation’s health care safety net for those most in need and those with the fewest resources. We fight to give at-risk populations a voice in federal policy making, promote the rights of consumers in emerging managed-care systems, and advocate for creative solutions that preserve the government’s responsibility as the provider of last resort.” (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Patricia Lee Stotter

pl-stotter2There are scores of female veterans who have served their country with valor, suffering physical and psychological disabilities in the course of fulfilling their duty.  The extraordinary challenges they face in transitioning back to civilian life should not go unrecognized.

Patricia Lee Stotter, a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016, has made certain that the strength and heroism of these women is made known to their fellow citizens.  She is one of the filmmakers who created the Emmy-award winning documentary, “Service:  When Women Come Marching Home.”  The film received stellar reviews, including four star praise from the New York Daily News, which wrote, “While the film doesn’t blink in showing the impact of service injuries, it also stresses the resilience of women veterans.” (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Linda Rosenberg

linda-rosenberg2In June of this year, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, publicly recognized Linda Rosenberg, the president of the National Council for Behavioral Health (NCBH), for her work in increasing access to mental health care services and in preventing suicide.

In his speech explaining why Rosenberg was selected for the Allies in Action Nonprofit Partner Award, the AFSP Vice President for Public Policy said, “With contributions like Ms. Rosenberg’s and her organization, we are much closer to achieving our goal of reducing the suicide rate 20 percent by the year 2025.  This award recognizes the invaluable collaboration of Ms. Rosenberg and the NCBH team and AFSP on issues like the Excellence in Mental Health Act, our joint Mental Health Consumer Tools and now in Mental Health First Aid.  Our work together will save lives.” (more…)

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Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter, A Must Read for all Women (and Men)

Pat Ford Roegner

Kate Clifford Larson’s masterful examination of the nearly-forgotten story of Rosemary Kennedy – sister of a President and two other famous brothers, but confined to the shadows for decades after a lobotomy – drew me in on multiple levels.  As a health professional, as a woman, as an activist – and as the niece of another soul lost to that misguided and devastating medical procedure of the early 20th century.

Even with his vast financial resources, and his political and personal connections, Joseph Kennedy, Sr., perhaps saw no other way to deal with his mentally troubled daughter.  Maybe, amid the shame and blame game of the times concerning mental health, the Nobel Prize-winning procedure seemed like a legitimate answer to a potentially embarrassing media story as the elder Kennedy made ambitious plans for his sons. God knows they tried the most exclusive schools for their beautiful but disturbed daughter before deciding to destroy a portion of her brain.

In the same era, the working class Campbell family of Philadelphia also faced fear of the unknown, limited financial resources, lack of medical or mental health options, and taboos associated with “diseases of the brain.” (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.

Dara-richardson-heron2A physician by trade, an advocate by choice.

That’s how Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., the chief executive officer of the YWCA, describes herself.  And while her would-be patients would almost certainly have benefited if she had continued actively practicing medicine, there is no doubt that society as a whole – and particularly those facing the greatest life challenges – is better because of Dr. Richardson-Heron’s decision to devote her talents and energies to social activism.

Under her leadership, the YWCA has become far more than an iconic organization with over 1,200 locations in 47 states.  It has proven itself time and time again to be an active, effective force dedicated to empowering women, fighting racism and promoting freedom and dignity for all people.  There are, in fact, multiple reasons why Dr. Richardson-Heron is an easy selection as a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016. (more…)

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Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Kathy Martinez

Kathy-Martinez-June-2014-2-199x300_2In 2015, Americans celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  But just as it is important to recognize that, for a quarter century, the law of the land has protected individuals with disability from discriminating, it is equally critical to acknowledge that there remains a significant employment gap in our society.  Americans with disabilities are far less likely to be gainfully employed and far more likely to be reliant upon public assistance programs.

There is no greater champion in trying to change this paradigm than Kathy Martinez, a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016.  Until February of 2015, Ms. Martinez was an Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor, in charge of disability employment policies.  She has now moved into the private sector as an executive with the Wells Fargo financial services corporation, expanding the company’s capabilities and programs dedicated to serving its customers with disabilities. (more…)

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  • November 2nd, 2015 Global Walk for Freedom
    By Glenna Crooks
  • Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Gina Glantz

    Gina+Glantz2When the Digital Health Summit took place at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, only 27 percent of the speakers on the agenda were women.  And when the Health and Bio Technology Summit convened in New York, women represented just nine percent of the experts on the agenda.

    But that’s not the worst.  The Connecting California to Improve Patient Care event in 2014?  Not a woman to be found at the podium or on any panels.

    The reason we know these disparities exist is because of Gender Avenger, an organization dedicated to ensuring that women are fairly represented in the public dialogue. (more…)

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    Meet Woman to Watch: Nancy-Ann DeParle, JD

    220px-Nancy-Ann_DeParle_official_portrait2If high expectations at a young age are indeed something of a curse and a burden, Nancy-Ann DeParle would have had every reason to crumble before her career was well underway.  As an undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, she was elected student body president and named by a national magazine as one of the nation’s top ten college women.  Then, in 1994, TIME Magazine included DeParle, then a graduate of Harvard Law and a Rhodes Scholar, as one of “America’s Top 50 Most Promising Leaders Under 40.”

    This is not a story, though, of someone sinking under the weight of publicized promise and potential.  To the contrary, DeParle has transcended the expectations surrounding her.  In discussing her, one doesn’t immediately turn to her personal successes, but rather to the millions of previously uninsured Americans who today have health care security because of the historic law she was instrumental in creating.

    For DeParle, this was less a professional opportunity than a calling. (more…)

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    Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Beth Braun

    beth-braun2There is a popular saying that goes, “If you meet someone who is able to turn pain into poetry, don’t let them go.”  Beth Braun, a Disruptive Woman to Watch for 2016, has embodied those word by turning personal pain into beautiful performance art and, in the process of doing so, helping others to begin healing their own emotional and psychological wounds.

    In 2011, Braun, a professional dancer and high school dance instructor, formed the Esperanza Dance Project in Tucson, Arizona.  Dance has been at the core of Braun’s life since she was a young child, and it was dance that helped her cope with one of the most difficult times in her life, when she learned that her daughter had been sexually abused.  She is now using her talents and experiences to help those who have suffered similar traumas.

    The purpose of the Esperanza Dance Project is to succeed in “eradicating stigma, secrecy and shame associated with childhood sexual violence.” (more…)

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    Meet Disruptive Woman to Watch: Kim Azzarelli, JD

    azzarelliWhen it comes to expanding opportunities for women and girls, Kim Azzarelli is something of a Renaissance woman.  Whether as a lawyer, a businesswoman, an author or an activist, Azzarelli is committed to creating a paradigm in which the world’s powerful institutions invest in women, and in which today’s successful women help the next generations climb to even greater heights.

    Azzarelli, along with Ambassador Melanie Verveer, cofounded Seneca Point Global, a firm that works with companies, governments and philanthropic institutions to help them understand that “women are fast emerging as one of the most powerful and influential demographics the world has ever seen” and that these organizations need to develop global women’s strategies in order to maintain progress.  From Seneca Point Global came the creation of Seneca Women, an initiative to help successful women build connections and seek opportunities to inspire women and girls. (more…)

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    Paging Doctor Faustus

    According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, nearly 62 million Americans are affected by mental illness annually. It is Mental Health Awareness Week an opportunity to remember that stigma still exists for those diagnosed with mental illness and that there is a vital need to raise awareness.

    Take a few minutes and watch this short powerful film that makes the unfortunate point about psych care and veteran suicide. The film is a collaboration of Mark Pinto, a retired Marine, former Buddhist priest and social artist, and Patricia Lee Stotter. It will also serve as a pre-curtain preface for Paul Genega and Patricia Lee Stotter’s full-length theater piece “Paging Doctor Faustus.” (more…)

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    TBT: Why I Fight for Change in Domestic Violence Legislation

    tiffany allisonTo support Domestic Violence Awareness Month today’s TBT tells one individual’s story which led her to become an advocate for victims of domestic violence. It first ran on September 11, 2014.

    In 2009 I became the victim of a violent crime, domestic assault with a weapon. The local newspaper’s front page story included the following phrases: “Felony Assault,” “Domestic Assault with a Weapon,” “False Imprisonment,” “beaten,” “hit about the head and body,” “beaten with hands, knees and feet,” “urinated on,” “beaten with a wrought iron cross,” “refused to let leave or use the telephone,” “numerous injuries,” “numerous bite marks about her body,” “lost consciousness,” “escaped.” Lucky to be alive should have been included.

    What I learned in the years following my assault will scare you.  My offender was given a two and a half year sentence for felony domestic assault with a weapon. Due to the “good time policy” in Iowa, he served only 10 months. I was his fifth victim. Twelve months after his early-release, he violently re-offended.  This time, he disfigured his victim’s face, repeatedly biting her, leaving behind a permanent reminder of his violence. For this offense, his sixth, he was charged with Burglary 2nd degree (as he broke into a locked vehicle to gain access to his victim) and Willful Injury (an act that is intended to cause serious injury to another). (more…)

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    What’s in Your Lipstick? Women Shouldn’t Have to Play Detective in the Makeup Aisle

    swhr_icon-2-solidThe post below originally ran on HuffPost Healthy Living. It is written by Laura Meyer, a Policy Department Intern at the Society for Women’s Health Research.

    Whip out your magnifying glasses and trench coats, ladies — it’s time to play detective. Not in any dark alleys or smoke-filled offices, but in the cosmetics aisle at the drug store, at the salon, and online.

    You’ll need your magnifying glass to examine the ingredients lists on cosmetics and haircare products, which too often include chemicals tied to negative health effects, from rashes and burns to hormone disruption and even some cancers. Though most people assume that cosmetics on the shelf must be tested before they go on the market, the chemicals in these products are not reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and companies do not have to report ingredients or the concentration of chemicals in their products. If something goes wrong, the FDA doesn’t have mandatory recall authority for dangerous products. (more…)

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