On September 11, 2001, my mother, Valerie Joan Hanna, Senior Vice President, Technology, at Marsh and McLennan was killed on the 97th floor of tower One. She was a women’s right activist, who started as a single mom with two of her own, on adopted, and somewhere around 17 foster children over the years.
She worked her way up the corporate ladder, a key punch operator, hitting glass ceiling after glass ceiling, changing jobs often, moving on to companies with a higher glass ceiling, ending up as a Vice President of one of the largest multinational insurance firms.
We started with government cheese, but even as she earned more money, rather than living the “good life” she helped more people and children get out of poverty. She provided each of us with an education to each of our individual abilities.
She was a very staunch reproductive rights supporter. Thank you for the work you do.
In peace, Lydia J. Robertson
That Lydia took the time to write her letter to thank me took my breath away. So I called her to thank her.
She said she had written because she wanted to document how strongly her mother believed and passed along to her children that the ability to control one’s fertility and economic well being are inextricably linked. She very kindly allowed me to print her letter in the book I was writing at the time, Behind Every Choice Is a Story.
I’ve always been convinced of the power of story telling. Rereading Lydia’s description of her mother today, a few days after President Obama’s jobs speech, was especially moving. I’d like for the greedy opposition to “government cheese” or any kind of hand up to honor the memory of those who died on 9/11 by adopting Valerie Hanna’s spirit of responsibility and generosity.
GLORIA FELDT is the New York Times bestselling author of several books including No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power, a sought-after speaker and frequent contributor to major news outlets, and the Co-Founder and President of Take The Lead. People has called her “the voice of experience,” and among the many honors she has been given, Vanity Fair called her one of America’s “Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers,” and Glamour chose her as a “Woman of the Year.”
As co-founder and president of Take The Lead, a leading women’s leadership nonprofit, her mission is to achieve gender parity by 2025 through innovative training programs, workshops, a groundbreaking 50 Women Can Change The World immersive, online courses, a free weekly newsletter, and events including a monthly Virtual Happy Hour program and a Take The Lead Day symposium that reached over 400,000 women globally in 2017.