February Might Be the Shortest Month but It’s a Super Important One

Issue 84 — February 11, 2019

Oh February.

The stores are full of red Valentine hearts. We’re reminded that February is Heart Month.

This year I missed the inspiring Go Red for Women events highlighting the importance of women taking care of their heart health. I usually attend these either as a speaker or financial supporter, and I have told my story of why here. I couldn’t go last week because my heart was devoted to launching Take The Lead’s signature 50 Women Can Change the World in Journalism program in New York. And it was awesome.

The Journalism program launched on February 6–8. The first three days were just the start; we’ll have another three months of webinars, coaching, and then back together for two days in person and a graduation ceremony — was a wow if I do say so myself. The accomplished, intersectional cohort of women from across the field of journalism blew me and Leadership Ambassadors Patricia Jerido and Fara Warner away with their passionate commitment to how they will as individuals advance their own leadership and as a cohort use their “power TO” advance the field of journalism.

With grateful hearts for the support of the Ford Foundation and the Democracy Fund for this program at a time when journalism is under pressure from all sides, we are already seeing the women in the cohort reaching out to help each other. The power of the cohort is profound.

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Which brings me to the February 13 Virtual Happy Hour honoring Black History Month.

We’re going to be talking about the power of community to change the lives of Black girls and women for the better.

Guests to be interviewed by cohost Reshma Gopaldas and myself will include three African American women who are leaders I can’t wait to meet and I know you will want to know them too. They include Minda Harts, Founder of “The Memo,” a career development platform for women of color; Dr. Lily McNair, the first female president of 100-year-old, historically Black, Tuskegee University; and WNBA star Devereaux Peters who plays forward for the Phoenix Mercury.

Black History Month was started as a week in 1926 by African American scholar Carter G. Woodson and became a month in 1976. It’s in the month of February because both Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln had February birthdays.

In researching other February dates, I learned that on February 13,1970 Joseph Searles became the first African American member of the New York Stock Exchange.

But in her article, Revisiting Black History Month, Kerra Bolton cautions against sugar coating the realities of history. For this 2019 Black History Month marks the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved people brought to mainland North America, to Jamestown, near present day Williamsburg, VA. Considering the heartbreaking racism rearing its ugly head in Virginia right now, this is a proper time to contemplate how far we have yet to go to change hearts as well as minds and laws.

When you join this live webcast, you’ll get to discuss and ask questions of our guests about anything on your mind, such as:

— How these women thrive and provide leadership in their communities and beyond

— How women can lead the change to reach pay and leadership parity in organizations of all sectors

— Why giving back to the community matters especially to girls and women of color

— How you can create change in your life and your community with action

— Why standing up for fairness and calling out bias improves the culture for everyone

Be sure to sign up even if you can’t attend live — we’ll send the link afterward so you don’t miss the valuable tips. Tweet questions in advance to @takeleadwomen to make sure your question gets answered.

And if your interest in February’s importance isn’t whetted yet, note that the Salem Witch Hunt started on February 28, 1692. On February 27–28, I’ll be in Phoenix for the last two days of our 50 Women Can Change the World in Nonprofits program, cohort three. The fight for equality for women and all people of color goes on. So keep your heart healthy for the work ahead.

And Happy Valentine’s Day!

GLORIA FELDT is the Cofounder and President of Take The Lead, a motivational speaker and expert women’s leadership developer for companies that want to build gender balance, and a bestselling author of four books, most recently No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Former President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, she teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University and is a frequent media commentator. Learn more at www.gloriafeldt.com and www.taketheleadwomen.com. Tweet @GloriaFeldt.