In 2015, I wrote a blog called 10 Women Who Changed My Life. I wrote brief snippets about the women (some who I knew, who I didn’t) who changed the way I saw the world and changed the way I saw myself. Go check it out, because all of those people are still incredible motivators in my life (hi, mom).
Today, for International Women’s Day, I’m bringing it back. A lot has changed in the past 3 years. In both our wider world and my personal world, things are changing about the way we think about ambition, truth, opportunity, and responsibility. Here are the women (in no particular order) who have changed the way I think, inspired me to speak up, and given me the gifts of solidarity and independence.
- Connie Carpenter – Olympic Gold medalist, summer-and-winter Olympian, and women’s sports advocate
Connie has taught me the dozens of ways that athletics create women who are strong and thoughtful for the rest of their lives. I can’t thank her enough for the work that she’s done so that we can compete.
- Leah Fessler – Quartz Gender, Work, and Relationships reporter
This year, Leah released her brain child How We’ll Win, a collection of interviews with the world’s most influential women on the general kicking of ass we can and need to do. Leah and I graduated in the same year. Seeing my peer make a difference makes me recognize that I do have power, I do have a voice, and no longer need to wait for someone who’s in charge to give me permission to chase my ambitions.
- Michelle Wolf – comedian, runner
Because women can be sexy, athletic, focus on work, and super duper funny. Michelle (can I call you Michelle?) is one of the first comedians I’ve seen joke strictly on women’s issues. If you don’t know the difference between that and a sexist joke, you can go home.
- Sasha DiGulian– climber, pink nail polish wearer
When I first met Sasha, I thought I was doing her a favor. She was small and quiet and wasn’t sitting next to anyone on a bus in New York. I’ll talk to this cute blonde girl I thought she doesn’t look like she has any friends. LOL. Sasha has a lot of friends, also a lot of athletic, scholarly, and business accolades. She’s not afraid to speak up, speak out, use her career as a platform for making change, and bring femininity into badass extreme events.
- Ryan Waterfield– Editor In Chief, BigLife Magazine
Mountain gal with Kentucky roots, Ryan’s an entrepreneur with a superb sense for good bourbon. She gave me some of my first bylines and has supported me as I’ve searched for more. Cheers to you, Ryan.
- Tarana Burke – Founder of Just Be Inc., creator of the #metoo movement
Ms. Burke created a tide that rose millions of ships in a sea of solidarity. For the first time, I was given a space to speak openly about the assault I’d experienced. No, it didn’t fix it, no, it didn’t end it, but we were finally able to acknowledge it.
- Paulette Jordan – 2018 Gubernatorial Candidate for Idaho
Jordan is a woman of color (a citizen of the Coeur d’Alene tribe) running for Governor in a very red, very male state. All women and women of color running for office and holding office deserve a place on this list.
- Cassie Abel– founder of Wild Rye and White Cloud Communication
Cassie is a skier, biker, (now) runner, and all around lady boss we all aspire to be. She’s worked in every industry, but has settled into the outdoor industry, founding TWO companies there and doing what it takes to live the dream in a ski town. I’m constantly grateful for her mentorship and advice (and margaritas on a Friday).
- Abigail Wise – Outside Online Managing Editor, mother of beautiful small dogs
Abby is literally rewriting what it means to be a woman in the outdoor industry. She co-founded (alongside mutual boss Kossandra Cloos) Adventures in Wikipedia, a group that edits Wikipedia pages to include the contributions by female leaders in the outdoors. She also works in a leadership position at a traditionally male-oriented publication, and inspires plenty of other women to do the same.
- Lauryn Williams – Summer and Winter Olympic medalist, entrepreneur
Lauryn has managed to turn her athletic accolades into a successful financial business career helping other people. Lauryn is creative, energetic, incredibly smart and is leveraging her athletic career to help other people like her.