Quinn Fitzgerald is one of the most inspired and, in turn, inspiring young women I’ve had the honor of meeting, let alone working with. She has not (yet) started an organization or spearheaded a nationwide campaign, but her brand of female empowerment has just as strong an impact. Quinn lives her life with the purpose of empowering others, imbuing her work with a sense of feminine purpose. And when so much of that work has taken place in the White House, even at the brink of her career, Quinn has already begun making grooves.
Though she began her career after college working for the Tribal Nations Conference, the largest summit of its kind, it was her work in El Salvador that struck a chord. In a country trying to rebuild its society after a brutal conflict, “women play a vital role in creating peace,” says Quinn, adding that they “have a unique perspective.” In a country with more than its fair share of sexism and violence, “they are some of the strongest women I know and have ever met in my life. They talk about community and helping each other and their lives are not about themselves, but about their families and their communities.”
These women inspired Quinn to look at the role women play in the peacemaking process and conflict resolution, but when it comes to the fight for women’s rights, it isn’t just the big picture that she sees. “I think about the people in my life I’m doing it for,” she says, and ultimately, it strikes at the heart of why the fight matters. After all, if the women in your life – your mother, sister, grandmother, best friend, anyone – deserve more than what they’re getting, there are probably a lot more people out there sharing your – and their – experience. Inherently, they – we – are all connected thus into a community.
As a White House intern, Quinn has had the opportunity to put her ideas into practice and explore their possibilities in a very real way. Under a president who just announced in his State of the Union Address his intention to bring the long overwrought issue of equal pay for women into reality, Quinn feels more than comfortable working towards balancing the scale between male and female rights in this country. It’s not about demeaning anyone or a shift in power, however, for her, but “about equalizing and power not being an issue. It’s about working together.”
Whether its in the context of work or just a conversation with friends, Quinn holds strong to her views and isn’t afraid to speak up. And with statistics that say boys still outnumber girls in classroom participation, women like Quinn are making a difference even by just speaking their mind with confidence. “I think women every day are fighting to say, just because I’m feminine, or I wear a dress or wear makeup, it doesn’t make me weak or superficial … I’m a strong person and if I stand up and fight for what I believe in … I’m not trying to be dominating at all.”
A touchy subject to be sure, but indeed Quinn has a point – perception is a key aspect of equality, and ultimately, whether a woman is extremely feminine or not at all, judging her by aesthetics more than ability or intellect is demeaning in the same way that paying her $0.75 to a man’s dollar is. Engaging in conversations and debates, whether in the context of work of play, Quinn is making an impact simply by being herself, which is immensely powerful, and empowering!
In her work with WWTDG, she saw an opportunity not only to empower women through example, but also to build community. “When I was in El Salvador I learned what the word community meant. … I see being a feminist as someone who believes in community and believes that everyone should be treated equally and should have a chance to thrive and give something back to the community.” While there is widespread perception that our generation is lazy and inactive, spending too much time with their PlayStation, there are countless people every day taking initiative to create positive change. Being able to tell their stories was exciting for Quinn because it gave everyone an opportunity to witness “women who aren’t talking about how hard their job is, they’re talking about how important it is that this work is being done, and they’re not asking for glory. . . . there’s such a variety of ways to get out there and help people … there’s something that every single person has a talent in, and this blog inspires them to go out there and find it.”
As for her plans for the future, Quinn’s intention is to continue connecting politics with the issues close to her heart. “I want to continue serving the President in any way I can,” she says, adding, “I feel like he shares the same values, fundamentally, that I do, and I want to keep pursuing that.” As she does, she will take with her the inspiration that has carried her this far already. “I’m doing the work I’m doing today because of women who have inspired me and mentored me. If it wasn’t for [my mother and grandmother] I wouldn’t be the person I am today and I wouldn’t be doing the work that I’m doing.”
Women Working to Do Good is a series that Hello Giggles and the White House have been collaborating on. We will bring you stories of women in communities across the United States who we think are stars in their own right. Whether they are young entrepreneurs, active community organizers, or making a difference in a single life or community, we think these women are amazing and want to share their stories with you! Each story will also be featured on the White House blog, and we are working together to bring more strong female role models to the forefront.
If there is a woman in your community who you think should be honored in this series, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!