Staff Picks: Women Who Inspire Us on International Women’s Day

Megan Twohey (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

I’m inspired by New York Times‘ investigative reporters Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohy. Their 2017 piece exposed Harvey Weinstein’s history of abuse and sexual misconduct against women, and was documented in their book She Said: Breaking the Sexual Harassment Story That Helped Ignite a Movement (2019), which was turned into the movie She Said (2022). They were vital in expanding the #MeToo movement (initially started by the American activist Tarana Burke) and helping victims speak out and be heard.

Jodi Kantor (Photo by Martin Schoeller)

I’m impressed by their dedication, endurance, and care. For the article, they had to find and review over thirty-years-worth of stories, filings in court, corporate records, and company communications that documented cover-ups, bullying tactics and confidential settlements. They had doors slammed in their faces and phones hung up, but continued to persist without pressuring people to share their stories or being intimidated by those trying to silence them. To comfort victims, Kantor and Twohy often said: “I can’t change what happened to you in the past, but if we work together, we may be able to use your experience to help other people.” Beyond She Said, both address ongoing, accepted, and hidden abuse throughout society. Kantor wrote about sexual misconduct in Wall Street, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Harvard Business School. Twohey covered Trump’s abuses, exposed exploitative doctors, revealed untested rape kits, and uncovered a secret underground network of abandoned adopted children.

The She Said book and movie also shared both women’s experiences with postpartum depression and fear of raising daughters in a society that won’t respect them. I appreciate their honesty about their struggles and how it drives them. I hope their work inspires more people to share their stories, investigate power dynamics, and implement solutions to reduce further harm.

—Emily Newman, Senior Education Coordinator


First and foremost, women unwillingly living in repressive, patriarchal theocracies are stronger and braver than I can imagine being. They are examples of genuine revolutionary resistance and reminders that our secular government, civil liberties, and human rights are not guaranteed.

The ambition, strength, and warmth of my friends, as well as the intelligence, leadership, and assertiveness of my colleagues and others I work(ed) with, begs me to shine the same.

Lastly, shout out to immigrant moms. Your courage, fortitude, and sacrifice do not go unnoticed.

—Isabella Russian, Policy Coordinator


Padma Lakshmi (Photo by Ellen Wallop/Asia Society)

I find myself endlessly inspired by author, model, activist, and television host Padma Lakshmi. Like many, I came to know and love Lakshmi through her work hosting the brilliant and addictive Top Chef cooking competition show on Bravo. Her newest series on Hulu, Taste the Nation, examines immigrant and indigenous communities across the US through the lens of food, exploring topics like cultural appropriation, assimilation, racism, and the complex navigation required to fit into a new home while maintaining your cultural roots—a topic that she herself has dealt with as an Indian American.

Lakshmi has written five books, been nominated for sixteen Emmys, and was recently named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. And as if that wasn’t enough, this past Tuesday, March 5th, she hosted her annual “Padma Puts On a Comedy Show” in New York, with ticket proceeds benefiting the National Network of Abortion Funds.

—Peter Bjork, Web Content Manager


Betty White (Photo by Alan Light) and Dolly Parton

My answer is a tie between Dolly Parton and Betty White. Dolly is a national treasure who has used her incredible wealth in various philanthropic endeavors, including providing more than 100 million free books to children across the globe, numerous large charitable contributions to hospitals in the U.S., and scholarships to high school students. She is an incredible example of somebody who uses their wealth to give back to the community.

Aside from giving us one of the most iconic television characters of all time (Rose Nylund), Betty White was dedicated to supporting various animal welfare programs, as well as the Guide Dogs for the Blind initiative. She reminded us that all creatures, no matter how big or small, are deserving of compassion and respect.

—David Reinbold, Communications Manager