WELCOME LETTER FROM MARIANNE SCHNALL
Back in 2008, after Barack Obama was elected president and we were celebrating the historic milestone of our first African American president, my then 8-year-old daughter Lotus asked me this seemingly simple question: “Why haven’t we ever had a woman president?” Her question stuck with me. Many other nations have elected women presidents so why not the U.S.? What will it take to chart the conditions to achieve that milestone, and to generally get more women in positions of leadership in our society? So I set out to try to find the answers, through speaking to some of the most influential journalists, activists, politicians and thought leaders of today for my book, What Will It Take to Make a Woman President? Conversations About Women, Leadership & Power.
It has been an enlightening, inspiring and thought-provoking journey. The book, and my efforts around it, has taken on many forms. I organized several high profile events in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., featuring panels of book contributors in partnership with other organizations. I held an internal think tank session in New York City to which I invited leaders in the movement to come together to discuss innovative strategies and how we could better coordinate, collaborate and unify messaging. I spoke at colleges across the country and was inspired by the energy of the young women (and the increasing numbers of men) at these events—all looking for encouragement, guidance and resources to get involved. I did a range of media appearances as well as additional interviews on the themes in the book, which became very topical again after Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy (I have a letter from her about my book framed on my wall), and then once again when Beyoncé recommended the book to her fans in an interview last year, saying “It will inspire you to become a better leader.”
All the while, I was listening and learning, and also beginning to sense a need for a focused platform to connect women with inspiring stories and guidance and the many resources and tools that are available to support them in being leaders in their own lives and helping women in this country achieve parity.
So on International Women’s Day, I am excited to launch this What Will It Take movement. This platform will be evolving based on input from you on what you need most. I look forward to hearing from you about what you care about and what would help you to better support women leaders, or to be one yourself. Because the need is timely and urgent. There are so many serious problems we face in the world, and we need women’s voices, visions, and perspectives in order to arrive at the best solutions. My ultimate wish is to use this platform to amplify the collective energy and power of the many voices and organizations that make up this movement in the most impactful way that I can. I look forward to being on this journey with you!