Monday, August 30, 2010

Back in Cambridge...

The name of this blog is no longer factually correct (sad!), as today marked the first day for me being back in Cambridge. “Shopping days” started today; I’m in the midst of deciding upon classes for the semester, what my PAE might look like, what my PAC (policy area of concentration) should be, running between meetings for the school’s newspaper and the Women and Gender Caucus (WAGC), of which I’m proud to be a co-chair. Leaves very little time to breathe, much less think…

This summer, much like today, went by in a blur. My goals for the summer were to gain a better understanding of the private sector, figure out what consulting really is, explore the gender “space” more fully and to (of course) take advantage of New York. I think I can safely say that I feel I accomplished each of these goals—to the degree to which they can be accomplished within a short, ten-week period. Kennedy emphasizes being “tri-sector” fluent; this was my first professional experience (besides a brief stint at a law firm) working with the private sector, even if it was from a nonprofit standpoint. Our clients really believed in what we were doing as an organization and wanted to make their employees’ experiences better.

Consulting continues to be an interest—although I have to say, I like the approach that Catalyst takes; it’s specific, it’s mission-oriented and it’s targeted at clients who will really implement the changes recommended. My project on Latin American women and ERGs was also a great learning experience—I feel like Catalyst will use the project as they move towards a more global vision. I even have it taped—to be watched later this year

My exploration of gender policy issues will continue throughout the year; I’m so excited to be co-chairing the WAGC and really looking forward to a new Kennedy course, entitled “Closing the Global Gender Gap.” As for my final goal, of fully taking advantage of New York: you could live there your entire life and never run out of things to do. I would LOVE to return and “check off” things that remain on my bucket list. I never made it to Ellis Island, for example. I didn’t stand in line for Shakespeare in the Park tickets. Next time…(hopefully??).

I’m so grateful to WAPPP for the opportunity to have come here. It truly could not have happened without the generous financial support and the serious commitment of the staff at WAPPP to making the student experience better. Thank you!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

If I can make it here...

Friday was my last day at Catalyst…which means summer is coming to an end. I can’t believe how quickly these past ten weeks have flown by; I am certainly not ready to go back to school! Thinking about all that is ahead—from classes to the PAE to the (gulp) job search--is enough to make my head spin and my heart palpitate.

I was incredibly fortunate to have such supportive colleagues and to have made friends with so many great people at Catalyst. This support and encouragement was one of the reasons I was able to fashion my own project—which I delivered last Thursday to Catalyst staff. In addition to my tangible work product, my actual presentation was filmed---something to look forward to watching (and critiquing) in the weeks ahead. Let me know if you want to see the results—I am definitely proud of the final product and hope that Catalyst will use my work as they become more globally focused (rather than their traditional lens on U.S./Canada).

My hope is to remain connected to Catalyst, hopefully through work on the PAE. One of the suggestions I had for a potential topic is to develop a more comprehensive advocacy strategy for the organization—my fingers are crossed on this project, as it would combine both my passion and my skill-set for an organization I truly believe in.

This coming Friday I will be packing my bags and heading home to Boston. While I am definitely excited to see friends and family (and indeed, will spend Saturday celebrating my Dad’s 60th—happy early birthday, Dad!), I will really miss New York. There’s just so much to do here—food, drink, museums, art galleries, culture and history (although I unfortunately never made it to Ellis Island), free concerts, lovely parks, great boutiques, close beaches—and so many great organizations doing important and meaningful work. I’ve also loved being close to my sister for the summer—I haven’t been able to spend as much time with her since we were in high school and living in adjoining rooms.

Hopefully, this is so long—not goodbye. I would love to come back here (especially to Brooklyn!), potentially after I graduate in May of 2011. Until then…wish me luck 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Street lights, big dreams all looking pretty

Another week (or two) in pictures.

Happy hour with Catalyst co-workers

My sister Kathryn perusing the fish market at Chelsea Market

HKS friends Jason and Kwame at the fundraiser Kwame organized for Harlem Children's Zone (amazing, Kwame!)

And of course, a summer in New York isn't complete without a (few) trips to the beach...Georgetown and Sea Isle City go together like a perfect smoothie.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Concrete jungle where dreams are made of...

Apologies for this moment of self-aggrandizing, but I’m pretty excited about this: on Sunday (well, Saturday, here in NY), I had my first letter to the editor published! It’s in this past weekend’s NYT Magazine, and it was in response to the front-cover article from two weeks ago, "the New Abortion Providers," by Slate Senior Editor Emily Bazelon. Sadly, someone stole my copy of the NYT (I'm going to start leaving passive aggressive notes in my building; I've had more copies stolen this summer than I've actually been able to read), so I haven't actually seen it in print. Still, I am pretty excited about it--it's been a goal on my bucket list for a while now.

If you have not yet read the original article, I strongly URGE you to do so and to let me know what you think. I think it is pathetically sad that after finishing it, my first thought was that the next time I will read about any one of these courageous (women) doctors, it will be because they’ve been murdered by an extreme anti-choicer.

Also, take a look at the letter-writers’ names. Notice anything unusual? Out of seven letters, five writers are female. And the only one that wrote in frustration with the so-called “culture of me” that choice provides…was male. Thoughts?

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The city never sleeps...better slip you an Ambien

Is it really July 21? It's hard to believe I only have about 2.5 more weeks here. And there's so much to do, you don't want to miss anything (hence the lack of sleep...and a subsequent summer cold).

On the work front…

I got pulled into a client project earlier this month. It is a small one, with only about a month's turnaround time, that’s been really exciting to see develop. We had our initial feedback call with the client this morning and it went well…now on to diagnostic day! Happily, I’ve received some really nice feedback about my work on the team, which was lovely to hear.

On my project…

I’m (finally!) interviewing women from member companies around best practices for women’s networks in Latin America. It took a while to get off the ground, simply because this is a very new area. It’s been great in terms of getting to practice my Spanish and in really getting to do some original research. It's also personally rewarding to talk to women who are extremely passionate about diversity and inclusion practices. What’s not been so great is realizing how little there is out there—and how far these groups have to go.

Countdown to delivering my white paper and presentation…t minus 2.5 weeks. I really want to make this as impactful and comprehensive as possible…and I can definitely see this being an area of interest for a long time. How do you, exactly, ensure that cultural stereotypes and mores do not dictate the future of an entire gender? Things to ponder (perhaps in a PAE…)

On the good news front...

Did everyone see this? I certainly wish the president had been a little more forceful on this issue when he was signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act back in January 2009. And yet, I remain ever hopeful that this president really will deliver on his promises and on his values. Let's hope Republican senators and business leaders follow suit.

On the NY front…

I’ve been making time to do some of the things that one needs to do in a NY summer…long walks around the park, yoga, wine and cheese tasting, talking with people whose jobs I’d love to have, traveling a little bit (via bus, of course!). This past weekend, I was able to spend some time with three of my dearest friends, all of whom happen to be former Alliance coworkers, when we all traveled to Philadelphia.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

There's nothing you can't do...

There has been a slew of good news that has come out in support of, and as a result of, women’s increasing participation in the world economy. I’ll mention just a couple…(especially since fellow HKS-er Allison, over at Beck Abroad, has been sharing some great reading herself!).

1. Obviously, this can’t go unmentioned—the U.N. recently decided to create a new agency for the “empowerment of women,” which will combine four previously distinct parts of the U.N. system: the Division for the Advancement of Women, the International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women, the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, and of course UNIFEM (or the United Nations Development Fund for Women). Read the U.N.’s press release here. While obviously this is great news--and I'm excited to see actual resources being put forth on this issue, I think my friend Kevin might have put it best: "I hope it's not the old routine of sending bills to committee for 'further study.'"

2. Google has announced that it will add to its employees’ pay to cover for a tax on same-sex health benefits AND include domestic partners in its family leave policy—going beyond what's stipulated in the Family and Medical Leave Act. Read more on the story at the New York Times. Hopefully, someday this will not be news-worthy and same-sex unions will be recognized as equal under the law. But I guess one step at a time?

3. In an interview with global NGO Population Services International (PSI), conducted by our fellow HKS student Ashley Judd, Nicholas Kristoff says that the battle to bring attention to so-called “women’s issues” is “… definitely being won. There’s no question that “international women’s issues” are going from a fringe concern and a “soft” issue to a serious topic in the spotlight. Partly that’s because women’s rights are increasingly recognized not only as a justice issue but also as a way to fight poverty and reduce civil conflict.” And in other exciting news, Half the Sky is being translated into numerous languages, including Arabic. Read the full interview in PSI's Impact magazine(and then go out and buy Half the Sky, if you have not already!).

4. In a tip-of-the-hat to Catalyst’s mission, I’m happy to share the fact that 19 women were added to major U.S. companies this year. This story was broken by the blog Companies included Yahoo!, theGap, Netflix and others. Whether this has been driven by the business case , to improve company culture or simply by a sense of fairness, I’m happy to see companies taking proactive steps to counter the fact that women hold a mere 15.2% of all Board seats at Fortune 500 companies. Sorry, but that’s simply absurd.

5. Catalyzing, the Catalyst blog written by Catalyst president and CEO Ilene Lang, was recently named by ForbesWoman as one of the best websites for women. To see/read more/get inspired, check out the full list.

Of course, it’s not all been good news. We don’t even have to look beyond U.S. borders to see this---the pay gap persists, 47 years post Equal Pay Act, reflecting our underrepresentatation in politics, women continue to be underrepresented on Sunday news shows and women MBAs continue to earn less and hold lower ranking jobs than their just-as-qualified male counterparts. So call your Senators and your Congressperson in support of the Paycheck Fairness Act (S. 182 and H.R. 12, respectively) and do not be afraid to speak up if you feel you are witnessing workplace unfairness. That’s what Google employees did.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I'm up that Brooklyn...

As promised, a (BK) life in pictures...

Entrance to Prospect Park, celebrating Brooklyn all summer long.

Look familiar?

Finally reconnecting with my wonderful HKS peers...

Happy July 4th, everyone...(ok, I admit it: this picture was taken at MOMA, not in Brooklyn).