This week, since it’s our last WWTDG post of the year, I decided to take a break and talk about what this series is really about. For the past four months I have been so excited, and so grateful to be able to edit and manage this series. The women we have connected with so far are all incredible, and doing amazing things in the world. Each time a new contributor finishes an interview, I get a note in my inbox about how truly grateful they are to have been able to connect with someone so amazing. It’s wonderful to be able to have this small community in which we are all so involved and enthusiastic about what we do.
The series initially started when Ronnie Cho, the Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement, sought out Hello Giggles with the hope of collaborating on a series featuring women, for the Young Americans page. I’m really grateful to Sophia, Molly and Zooey for trusting me to take on the project and work with Ronnie, who has since also become a wonderful friend. The Office of Public Engagement didn’t even exist before this administration, and I think it’s great that it was created with the intention of engaging and interacting with the public more effectively. People think it’s kind of trite sometimes, but there is actually a real opportunity to interact with the White House, and that’s pretty amazing to me.
What I really love about this series is that it’s not political. I get to work with the White House, and actually, this is the first time ever that the White House has collaborated with any publication in such a way – cross posting and co-editing articles. I like that this administration feels it is important to highlight women’s achievements, and that I never feel pressured to be partisan in any way. All we’re trying to do is approach feminism from a positive perspective: instead of focusing on what still needs to be done (and there are tons of things, let’s not forget that), we focus on what is already happening. Each time we profile a woman who is working to do good in the world, be it locally or globally, we are expanding the visibility of how much women contribute to our society while also expanding the pool of role models for both women and men.
Because of this series, I have had the opportunity to go to the White House twice in the past few months. First, in October, Ronnie took me on a tour of the West Wing. While Josh Lyman was nowhere to be seen and I had to finally admit to myself that he is, indeed, fictional, it was still very exciting to see the place. The Oval Office is beautiful, and as a fan of Norman Rockwell, I loved that so many of his paintings were on display.
Last week, I had the honor of attending a Holiday party in the East Wing of the White House, and meeting President Obama, as well as the First Lady. I got to take my BFF, who lives in Budapest and met me halfway in New York, where the two of us kicked off a two week girl-cation that happened to start on National Bff Day. Aside from the general excitement of the event and the meeting, what I really appreciated was the invitation itself. Clearly the work that we’re doing is regarded as meaningful enough to the White House that they wanted to express their appreciation for it. With a Congress that is trying so hard at times to wreak havoc on women’s freedoms, it is comforting to see, let alone be part of, an effort to also support and empower women through the oldest method in history: storytelling.
Ronnie and I have talked about this series and the importance of keeping it apolitical. With next year being an election year, I think it is even more important to retain this series as an entity unto itself. Even though it is run together with the White House, there is no political agenda behind it, unless you consider empowering women to be politicizing them (but then we can get into a debate about whether the personal is political, and after the years I spent at a liberal arts college, I’m set). We have found some truly brilliant and inspiring ladies and have received many recommendations from you guys for more. I am so excited about the coming year and seeing who we get to meet next, so keep the suggestions coming, and keep reading!
Thank you guys for your interest in this series and your support. Keep sharing the posts, and keep commenting! We read them and take them into account. Have an amazing holiday season, and a fantastic new year!
Featured Image: The BFF (on the right, also named Julia!) and I (on the left) standing in front of the steps leading to the Residence. This is the fanciest either of us will ever be. For the record: I’m wearing a Marc by Marc Jacobs dress that I fatefully stumbled onto at Ina’s consignment shop in New York for practically nothing, and the other Julia is wearing a little black dress from H&M. She got her cashmere/silk shawl for 90% off at Century 21. I couldn’t find earrings I liked, so I made the ones I’m wearing. You can make anything fancy if you work it!