News and Insights

A Reflection on International Women’s Month

March 31, 2021

Finn Partners’ colleagues share women that inspire them as a reflection on International Women’s Month:

“Dolores Huerta is an American labor leader and civil rights activist who, with Cesar Chavez, co-founded the National Farmworkers Association, which later became the United Farm Workers. As a Hispanic woman, I feel much of my education left out female champions, especially Hispanic women. Dolores coined the expression “Si, se puede!” or “Yes, we can!” a mantra I’ve carried most of my life. Her work as a labor leader continues to have an impact today, particularly on immigrant populations. An original grassroots organizer, activist and leader, Dolores’s story and work always reminds me of the possibilities that exist when even one person is truly passionate about making change.” -Emily Chavez, Assistant Account Executive, Washington D.C.

“DOLLY PARTON! She is an incredible and talented force to be reckoned with. In addition to being an extremely accomplished musician and songwriter (of some of THE most notable hits in history), she is the top individual donor to childhood education in the U.S. and also understands the importance of human health, having contributed one million dollars to what became the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. She is smart, kind, humble, collaborative and most importantly, doesn’t take herself too seriously despite her tremendous success. Dolly teaches me all the time that you can do anything if you put your mind to it as long as you laugh/smile through it all!” -Jessica Lise, Vice President, New York

“Ida B. Wells, who was born into slavery, became an activist at an early age and went on to set the standard for fearless, investigative journalism. In the late 19th century she risked her life to document the horror of lynching, thereby becoming a target of the Ku Klux Klan and similar groups. But Wells didn’t stop there; instead, her life’s work was dedicated to dismantling racism through prose, despite the constant danger of publishing her work. Ida B. Wells exemplifies The Washington Post’s tagline “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” Her steadfastness in exposing our country’s deep-seated flaws was nothing short of heroic and to me, she represents what it means to fight for truth and justice. In the last tumultuous year, I thought about her resilience and it empowered me to speak against issues that still plague our nation.” -Madeline Carzon, Assistant Account Executive, Washington D.C.

“Mathematician Katherine Johnson taught me that patience and grace eventually pay off. Her extraordinary mind was overlooked for far too long in her early days at NASA. Finally, able to spread her career wings and fly, John Glenn recognized her value and insisted she confirm his around-the-world space flight’s trajectory path. Ms. Johnson didn’t demand success. She didn’t give up when success didn’t come her way. She relied on her work to bring her the respect and recognition she deserved.” -Lisa Button, Partner, Nashville

“I admire Marcia Treidler, aka Mestra Cigarra, of Abada-Capoeira, who for 30 years has provided a safe and affirming environment for Bay Area adults, youth, and families to learn and grow. Born in Brazil, Mestra Cigarra studied capoeira, a traditionally male-dominated martial art, under the world-renowned capoeirista Mestre Camisa. In 1987, she started classes for street children and adults in Rio de Janeiro, later moving to the U.S. and obtaining legal permanent residency as an “alien of extraordinary ability.” She founded the ACSF Brazilian Arts Center to use capoeira as a vehicle for social change and individual growth designed to transcend socio-economic barriers and empower the community. It promotes respect, cooperation, and freedom. The teaching methodology is rooted in the belief that encouragement and positive role modeling enable capoeira to enrich the lives of all students, regardless of level or background. I’ve studied with Mestra Cigarra for 10 years. To spar with a capoeira opponent, you must be flexible in your movements and think a few steps ahead in terms of strategy. I can apply that approach to many aspects of life, especially our work where we need to plan for any scenario but be ready to change direction quickly.” -Michelle Sieling, Vice President, San Francisco

“I was named for Amy Johnson, an amazing and inspiring woman who broke through gender constraints and was the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia in 1930. She had a passion and ran with it, which is a good lesson for us all.” -Amy Skelding, Senior Partner, London

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”). As a first-generation Dominican American from the NYC area, I’m proud of AOC and her hard work not only for Latinos but people from all backgrounds in The Bronx, and across the 50 United States. She’s an important reminder of what we can do when we work together.” -Alex Suazo, Vice President, Chicago

“Élan V. McAllister, whose rich and varied career included professional dancer, Tony-winning Broadway producer and being a life coach for expectant parents. I was Élan’s assistant soon after college, as I was figuring out my career and how to even exist in the professional world. One day I joined her at a production meeting for the new Broadway musical Cry-Baby – a meeting that also included successful and powerful people in the business, most notably Brian Grazer. I was practically vibrating out of my seat with anxiety. Élan put her hand on my arm, smiled and said “Relax. You’re supposed to be here. You belong here.” That simple, kind comment had a profound effect on me, not just in making sure I didn’t make a fool of myself in that meeting, but because it’s a truth so many people – especially women – need to hear and need to believe. Almost anyone can suffer from Imposter Syndrome, but the thoughts and voices of women and girls have been ignored or discounted for so long it’s no wonder we may feel uneasy when we finally are included. Our society teaches women to be meek. To keep quiet. Not to take up space. To be small. And that only then are we truly worthwhile. But that is a lie detrimental to society as a whole. Diversity of thought and voice improves everything it touches, from product design to PR campaigns to governments. But to convince institutions of this, we must first convince ourselves that we are supposed to be there, that we belong in the creation, decision making and shaping of our collective future. Élan’s simple statement pushed me to work every day to convince myself of that truth. Ladies, you are supposed to be here. You belong.” -Julia Jolly, Vice President, New York

“Abigail Adams: Acclaimed for her now-famous admonition that the Founding Fathers “remember the ladies” in their new laws, Abigail Adams was not only an early advocate for women’s rights, she was a vital advisor to her husband John Adams, the nation’s second president. She opposed slavery and supported women’s education.” -Tom Jones, Senior Partner, New Jersey

“I look up to Lizzo daily and love her because she is unapologetically herself. Her vibrant personality and courage to show the world her true self inspires me to be the best version of myself. Her music never fails to brighten my day, but she also uses her platform to educate her followers on body positivity, self love, and racial justice issues. My favorite Lizzo quote is: “I don’t think that loving yourself is a choice. I think that it’s a decision that has to be made for survival.” -Dede McKelvy, Partner in Training, New York City

“Jeannette Rankin, who in 1916, was the first woman elected to Congress, though she herself couldn’t vote. She remains the only woman ever elected to Congress by Montanans. I admire Rankin for her work on women’s suffrage and equality, but in taking a principled stand, Rankin is truly inspiring. She voted against war in 1917, but it took even more guts to vote against war in 1941 when it was thrust upon the US. While I don’t agree with her position, she showed the highest courage in taking it, in light of physical threats from the public, hounding by the press, and a full revolt by Montana voters. Though it may have been folly to vote against a war that wasn’t our choice to fight, Rankin had real grit and was unbreakable.” -John Bianchi, Vice President, New York

“Selena Quintanilla, for her honesty, charisma, hard work, intelligence and attitude. Told she wouldn’t make it in the male-dominated Tejano music industry, she instead become one of the most successful Mexican singers in the world. She has taught me to stay humble and that hard work will always gain you success in life.” -Jennifer Castillo, Intern, New York

“I admire Michelle Obama. She is a double Ivy graduate. The greatest lesson I learned from her was that despite the incredible racist scrutiny she experienced while Barack was in office, Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high.” -Rachel Neff, Account Supervisor, Portland

“Ruth Bader Ginsburg is inspiring to me for her fight for gender equality and women’s rights. Her perseverance in a male-dominated world at the time that she became a lawyer and then judge was admirable. She paved the way for so many women by trying to level the playing field – not only by becoming one of the few women Supreme Court justices but also for women everywhere to have the rights we enjoy today, like getting a credit card without having a HUSBAND! Literally the only time I cried when someone I didn’t know passed away. She truly is the Notorious RBG!” -Natalia Lopez, Vice President, New York

“Cynthia Payano, my close friend. We met working retail in Harlem 5 years ago as I was going through a rough, new situation. She had been in the same position when she was younger and was kind and accepting of my feelings and fears. Her accomplishment of continuing her sobriety is inspiring, especially during a pandemic when you’re surrounded by vices that can bring comfort during times of struggle. She always reminded me to think about how I spoke to myself: If I’m speaking kind words to everyone to spread kindness, I must speak to myself the same way. I’m a person just like anyone else, and I deserve basic kindness. This world needs more people like Cynthia, a bright light in a dark place reminding you the light is always there.” -Leah Rodriguez, Office Services Assistant, New York City

“Mother Teresa. I can’t think of anyone who comes close to matching her selflessness. She embodied love, kindness, charity and humility.” –Cathy Chon, Managing Partner, Hong Kong

“Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister of New Zealand. She is a role model for leadership – strength, decisive action, coupled with empathy and humanity.” -Naeema Ismail, Senior Partner, Singapore

“Kamala Harris, because of her achievement in becoming our country’s first female vice president. It’s relevant today as it shows young people, especially women, how far you can go with hard work and perseverance. Greatest lesson is that everyone has a chance at whatever they want to do.” -Anthony Marquez, Assistant Account Executive, Los Angeles

“I admire many women in my life who have faced adversity, including my mother and grandmother, but Ruby Bridges has a special place. I keep a photo in my home office of the six-year-old bravely walking up the stairs of her school while a hate-filled mob of people yell at, spit on and demean her. Her parents’ determination to keep walking their daughter into that school each day, to better her life and change our world, is encouraging. As a grown woman, when I feel overwhelmed I look at Ruby’s innocence in that photo and I draw strength to take on this not-so-nice world. I remind myself that if Ruby could do it, then my life’s load is not hard. It motivates me to keep pushing to learn and do better during my time on earth.” –Tiffany Childress, Associate Vice President, Nashville

“Ruth Bader Ginsberg because she was smart and strong.” -Katharina Ehrnsperger, Associate Vice President, Munich