1. Eleanor Roosevelt - The greatest writer, the greatest leader, the greatest advocate our nation and the world has ever known. Eleanor wrote a column called “My Day” that was published in every paper in the nation (I collect them by year). The first person to have an all female press corps (read about her beloved friend, Journalist Lorena Hickok). She founded a furniture company for women (read about Val Kill Industries). She introduced the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She has written more books than any first lady in our history. Her signature is tattooed on my arm to remind me to ask myself, “What would ER do?” If you haven’t read her books, do it.
2. Hillary Clinton - I first discovered Hillary Clinton when I was doing research on youth in foster care and I discovered that she was a tireless advocate for abused and neglected children. I fell in love with her because of her book, “It Takes A Village”. I stuck by her because she inspired me with her speech at the United Nations 4th World Conference on Women. But mostly I love Hillary Clinton because of her fortitude, her love of reading, and the way she helps me to see that I can do and be ANYTHING that I set my mind to.
3. Madonna - I remember listening to Madonna and thinking, damn, this woman is fearless. She says things no woman dares to say and does things no woman dares to do. I want to be just like her when I grow up. I was Madonna for Halloween in 6th grade. I had all of her cassette tapes. I worshiped her like a hero. There is not a woman singing today that is able to do so without Madonna having paved the way.
4. Wonder Woman - When I was a child, I used to dream of living on that island with all those powerful sisters. When I was a teenager, I used to pretend that I could escape anywhere I wanted in my invisible plane. When I was an adult, I sat in the theater and sobbed and sobbed that someone had finally brought my vision of her to life. I wish I had a truth lasso, I DESPISE liars something fierce.
5. Mrs. Howells - My 1st grade teacher at Wasatch Elementary School in Salt Lake City. It was the year President Reagan got shot, the year my best friend's mom became paralyzed, and the year my father killed himself. It was what should have been the most horrible year of my life but Mrs. Howells made it ok. I went back and visited her many times over the years. She was the kind of person that made you want to become a teacher. In many ways I have continued her legacy of kindness and openness to helping others.
6. Christy Turlington Burns - I first met Christy when she was a Calvin Klein model and I hung her pictures all over my wall when I was in Jr. High. I imagined that we would be the best of friends. Turns out, we are friends. Christy has a masters degree in public health and started a nonprofit organization called Every Mother Counts. She and I met when she spoke at a fundraiser that I was putting together. She and I have such similar missions in the world to help women and girls. I love her purpose in the world.
7. Mary Magdalene - There is so much magic in her story, and none of it has to do with prostitution. Apostle to the apostles, first witness to the resurrection, lover of Jesus and of Christ, teacher of listening with our whole entire heart. If you want to learn more about Mary Magdalene, connect with theologian Meggan Watterson. Her book “Mary Magdalene Revealed” will change your life forever.
8. Dolly Parton - Because she has seen it all and never gave up. If you want to hear some amazing magic, check out the podcast Dolly Parton’s America. It is perfect for listening to anytime. Listen to it twice. You will laugh and cry and have so many aha moments that you won’t know what to do with yourself.
9. Maya Angelou - When I was in college I worked in an independent bookstore called A Woman’s Place books. It was the first bookstore in Utah to have a “lesbian/gay” and “feminist” section. When Maya Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” came out we had a book signing and reading with her at the bookstore. Her voice thunders in my soul to this day. I can still hear her reading her poem more than 25 years later. I cried and cried to be in her presence. She continues to impact me to this day.
10. Arcangela Tarabotti - Forced into a convent at a young age, Arcangela Tarabotti protested her confinement by writing about freedom of choice, forced marriage, and the Venetian patriarchy. Someone on Twitter compared me to her once and I nearly died with joy. “So let your lying lips, O men, which oppress women as the weaker sex, a mass of defects, while their deeds tell the opposite story, be confounded and silenced forever.” Read her book Paternal Tyranny. You will be so glad you did.
Now that you know a little bit more about me, I'd love for you to let me know: who have been the most inspiring people in your life?