Shadow Cabinet was an interview series I created to share the stories of women leading the fight to defend human rights in the United States in 2017.
I’m talking about the rights of immigrants, refugees, people of color, native peoples, the LGBTQ community, and women; reproductive rights; environmental rights; and our constitutional rights in general, including our right to freedom of speech.
While so much incredible reading material is available – and there’s so much good information about concrete action to take in resistance to discrimination, hate and injustice in our country – I still felt overwhelmed, and in need of a different way to connect and learn. So every week during the project, I spoke with a new subject. These were women working in politics, education, nonprofits, media and more.
My questions for each leader were few: what is the nature of your work, how can we support you, and/or how can we emulate you in our own lives and communities. Each week, I took her advice in any way I could, whether that meant a donation, a phone call, a letter, or some other action.
Why only women? Let’s just say that the silhouette of the would-be president who exited the stage on Nov. 9, 2016 remained ever-present in my field of vision, kind of like when you look away from a bright light and see its shadow everywhere. In the weeks that followed, whenever I saw a discussion or board or panel where women are absent or outnumbered, it stood out to me like never before. I noticed the absence of women leaders in my own mental lists of the standouts and experts in some of the areas now under threat in our country, and I wanted to remedy that. I needed a deeper bench of women leaders. I wanted to be able rattle off a long list of women who should fill the Cabinet seats at the White House, and the women who should be on those secretaries’ speed dials.
It was a short project, but meeting these extraordinary women truly enriched and changed my life. Take a look at Shadow Cabinet.
Jan. 31, Immigration: Allegra Love, founder of the Santa Fe Dreamers Project – ‘Before you say you want to help, say you want to learn.’ Hear Love’s insights into how we can do a better job of supporting great local nonprofits without overwhelming them.
Feb. 7, Education: Alyse Surratt Galvin, Co-Founder of Great Alaska Schools – ‘This is grassroots, just authentic.’ Learn how she turned 19 pies into $16 million and infuses fun and creativity into her public-school advocacy.
Feb. 14, Arts and Activism: Maryam Pugh, founder of Philadelphia Printworks – ‘Can we bridge this gap?’ We talked about the divided nature of feminism, how activism meets art, and how the shirt on your back can spark a conversation.
Feb. 21, Congressional Oversight: Laura Moser, the founder of Daily Action – ‘Making calls is the gateway drug to political involvement.’ The creator of a congressional calling service that helps hundreds of thousands of people keep the pressure on their elected officials chatted with Shadow Cabinet about newfound optimism, finding our voice, and her $30,000 phone bill.
March 7, Press Secretary: Mariana Santos, founder of Chicas Poderosas – ‘Don’t be the one clipping your own wings.’ A journalist who quit her job to run the international network she created to empower women to tell their stories using digital media, Santos discussed gender, diversity and how the U.S. political climate is amping up her outreach.
March 21, Department of Justice: Lauren Fine and Joanna Visser Adjoian, founder of the Youth Sentencing and Reentry Project – ‘Nothing is black and white: there’s a lot of gray.’ Two Philadelphia lawyers describe the injustice facing young people being sentenced to adult prison, and what they’ve learned from the young people they support.