This isn’t the start to the “In Her Words” message I intended to write. This week marks my one year anniversary with the National Women’s Hall of Fame and my first draft began with a reflection from last summer.
Then last Friday, I suffered an injury at home. I’ll spare the details but my pain was bad enough to send me into shock. Even with my husband’s assistance, I couldn’t get to our car.
An all-women team of paramedics responded to the emergency call. My hand clearly needed attention but my state of mind demanded they rule out anything worse. I answered all the questions: it’s 2022. We’re in New York. I have two cats. I work in Seneca Falls. I am the executive director of the National Women’s Hall of Fame.
That last answer was unexpected enough to stop conversation.
“It’s pretty amazing to have an all-women team around me right now, thank you,” I stammered, trying to fill the void. I also meant it.
On the way to the ER, my shock waning, we discussed breaking down barriers in traditionally male-dominated fields like theirs. Before saying our goodbyes, the three women took a moment, held my non-injured hand, and said, “You keep thanking us but please let us thank you. Women’s voices need to be lifted now more than ever. It is an honor to help you so that you can keep doing what you do.”
It was a profoundly meaningful moment during an otherwise unpleasant experience. And — circling back to the original intent of this column – a good reminder of the Hall’s mission and why it matters.
The National Women’s Hall of Fame ensures that women’s stories are remembered and celebrated as mainstays of American history, not as an afterthought. As the oldest nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving the stories of great American women, the Hall uses the stories of its 293 (soon to be 302!) Inductees to bring women’s accomplishments into every home and every community throughout the United States. Just a few examples of our impact from the past few months:
- More than 6,000 households and 19,000 schoolchildren from Puerto Rico to California participated in the Hall’s spring panels and educational programs. If you missed our Week of Women programs in early April, you can visit our YouTube channel to hear from Inductees Dolores Huerta and Jeanne Kilbourne.
- The Hall partnered with STARS Citywide Girls Initiative, an after-school program serving girls and gender non-conforming youth from underserved communities in NYC. Twenty high school students were selected to join an intensive 10-week leadership development program based on themes from 2022 Inductee Michelle Obama’s book, Becoming. The collaboration concluded with an exceptional summit in NYC.
- Kids of all ages from across New York visited the Hall’s gallery in Seneca Falls to learn about important historical figures and women’s contributions to American society. Younger children participated in a scavenger hunt to identify and match inspiring women figures with their accomplishments, while older students learned to draft their own nominations of women they feel inspired by.
Those are just three of the countless ways in which the National Women’s Hall of Fame reaches people and inspires them to pursue whatever path they choose in life. Our national programs and our museum in Seneca Falls are only going to grow bigger and stronger in the months and years to come, thanks to the generosity of our donors and friends. No matter your age, gender, professional passions, or personal interests, there is at least one Inductee’s story who will make you pause and think, “if she could do that, so can I.”
My thanks to my all-women team of paramedics for their service to our community, and for the reminder that even in anguish, we have opportunity to support each other and acknowledge our contributions to making the world a better place.