Founder’s Note: Edition 4

“Art and life are subjective. Not everybody’s gonna dig what I dig, but I reserve the right to dig it.” ~Whoopi Goldberg

Hello from the Engage headquarters in downtown Washington, DC,

Welcome to the summer edition of The Thread. Ever since founding Engage in 2018, I knew that its success would depend on our ability to get out in America. After all, movements do not begin in Washington. We need to reach real women – women whose relationship with politics is different from that of those of us who live and work within a few blocks of the Capitol.

This edition is inspired by and in tribute to three such women: Kirsten from Washington State, Nicole from Arizona, and Shannon from Oklahoma. Since my very first conversations with them, I knew they were the kind of women I wanted Engage to attract: driven, thoughtful, and committed to improving women’s relationship with politics. If our mission had not resonated with them, I would have been crushed. Luckily it did, and these three dynamos have agreed to serve as the first Engage Ambassadors. Our goal is to have an ambassador in all fifty states, featuring women who represent the great diversity of backgrounds this country has to offer. Three down, forty-seven to go!

Engage found Kirsten, Nicole, and Shannon through our work with the American Retirement Association and our shared commitment to securing women’s retirement. With millions of women retiring into poverty every year, their work could not be more important. As you will see in their profiles below, Kirsten, Nicole, and Shannon’s enthusiasm for economic security, commitment to advocacy, and zest for life is contagious. I’m immensely grateful to them for all the suggestions and ideas that will make Engage more successful.

As ambassadors, each agreed to host a virtual event to introduce Engage to their colleagues and friends and to learn about our work on women’s economic security. I love participating in these conversations and meeting women who are willing to share their stories and frustration with politics and to talk about life’s challenges.

These conversations confirmed a founding principle of Engage: women are not a monolith. We are as varied as the stars in the sky, yet united every night, when our heads hit the pillow with worries about our own health and economic security and that of those we love. In order to truly create a women’s movement for the 21st century, Engage needs all types of ambassadors: retirement experts, of course, but also caregivers, stay-at-home moms, working professionals, city-dwellers, commuters, country-folk – you take my point. If you have any interest in serving as an Engage Ambassador, please reach out to me. I’m eager to connect with you and your circle – whether it is 5 or 50 women.

On the program front, I hope you will take some time to watch two new offerings on the Engage website. The first, taped yesterday on the 31st Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act, examines an 80-year-old policy that allows employers to legally pay individuals with disabilities less than the federal minimum wage. Sara Hart Weir wrote a terrific piece on this law in our last edition. Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers opens the conversation with a group of leading national advocates for the disability community that Sara assembled. The event shines a light on a commonsense, bipartisan solution co-sponsored by the Congresswoman and Congressman Bobby Scott – I would urge each and every one of you to learn about what it would mean for our disability community.

Later this week, on Thursday, July 29th at 11am, our Velocity Index dedicated to caregivers will be live. Jean Chatzky, CEO of Her Money Media and AARP Financial Ambassador, moderates a discussion, entitled, Caring for the Caregivers, with Senator Joni Ernst, Congresswoman Linda Sanchez, and Nancy LeaMond, EVP and Chief Advocacy & Engagement Officer at AARP. There are 53 million family caregivers in this country: 48 million care for loved ones over 18 and 5 million care for children with disabilities. The reality of caregiving is fundamental to the economic insecurity experienced by so many women and their families. Engage is dedicated to presenting the issues and policies that are just plain common sense and would help women in their daily lives. We are committed to discussing those problems and solutions in a factual, unbiased manner. These two programs, The Economic Insecurity of our Disability Community and Caring for the Caregivers, reflect that commitment. A special thank you to Sophie Evans, Engage’s Policy Director, for producing them with such care.

Further down in the issue, Laura is back with her devotion to another songstress, and our summer intern, Hannah Yazdani, writes a thoughtful piece about Tara Westover’s Educated. Talented Hannah is entering her final year at Brown University, and I’m looking to her to start the first college chapter of Engage! We end with a viewing recommendation from me about a show I adored.

As ever, wherever this finds you, I’m sending lots of good wishes your way,
Rachel

Rachel Pearson is the Founder of Engage. You can reach her at rachel@engagewomen.org.

 


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