The post-election buzz is all about how 2012 was a pivotal year, the demographic shift toward non-white voters and millennials finally kicked in, women finally exercised their electoral power, and yada yada. This is true, and we deserve to celebrate for a few minutes.

But elections come and go, pendulums swing, and no shift happens by itself—people have to make it happen.

That’s why social movements are forever, if they remain relevant and keep them. I was honored to be interviewed by NYU’s Margaret Sanger Papers Project regarding my views of the woman who started the American Birth Control Movement and the organization that would become Planned Parenthood, her work, and what I learned from her leadership. Here you go—let me know what you think.

Margaret Sanger Papers Project: Many years ago, you were a teenage mother living in Texas. Can you describe that experience and how it has contributed to your personal and professional life?

Gloria Feldt: I relate to the hardships of young parents. I have been driven by a passion that my daughters and all future generations of women should have the information, aspiration, and access to birth control and abortion services that give them the ability to determine the course of their own lives. Like Margaret Sanger, I believe biology should not be destiny and no woman can call herself free till she can own and control her own body. The birth control pill represented that liberation for me. It enabled me to start college and build a career. And to become financially independent–economic justice is the second factor, after reproductive rights, women must have to be full and equal citizens, but you can’t have that unless you can make your own sexual and childbearing decisions.

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I met Juliet Asante through a most remarkable friend, Eva Haller. Eva can always be counted on to be surrounded by people who are doing amazing, significant things for others in this world, and Juliet is no exception. So I was thrilled when this media entrepreneur and activist, the founder of Eagle Productions Ltd, (an events and communications company; developing and aggregating content for multiple platforms; with operations in a number of African countries), agreed to answer a few questions.

I think you’ll be inspired and agree that Juliet is definitely a woman who is Doing It!

 

Gloria Feldt: When did you know you had the power to_____?

Juliet Asante: I knew I had the power to change my world and make a difference when I, (as an African girl, at a time when not many people dared) was able to raise money to start my first television show; having started out with only a cell phone and absolutely no money or guidance.

GF: Describe the moment or series of events that let you know you had the power to:

JA: My first major event on my path was getting the part in an HBO movie that starred Omar Epps. “Deadly Voyage,” a true story based in Africa, was auditioned for by the ‘best’ in the industry… and I got the role I auditioned for. This gave me the confirmation and credibility I needed at the time to explore my talents.

The second event I remember, was winning the writing competition to produce a road show for a product to Unilever, and producing this while in my final year of University in another city. I commuted for 8 hours between two cities in every 24 hours for my entire final year at school.

I felt powerful. I felt my mental limitations drop away. I remember feeling like I could do it and I could see the world opening up to me. I also felt that my path was going to be a one of resistance, as I had already begun to see that in many ways, but I knew I’d find the strength to move on. I just knew….

GF: Tell a little about your background, your family and how you grew up, and what led you to your current work.

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Recently, I sat down with Liz Dennery Sanders of She Brand who shares the secrets of successful branding with women entrepreneur, coaches and consultants, saying “those who put this secret to work in their business never have to worry where their next client is coming from.”

In Liz’s SheBrand SuperStar series, she features female entrepreneurs “who are out there in the trenches each and every day, making things happen and affecting other people’s lives for the better.”

Please enjoy this reprint of her interview.

Name: Gloria Feldt

Occupation: Speaker, Author, World Changer

1. What are three words that best describe your personal brand?

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I’m thrilled to highlight the wonderful Cindy Wigglesworth via her guest post for this week’s “She’s Doing It” column.

Cindy is president of Deep Change, Inc. and the author of the just released must read for any leader, SQ 21: The Twenty-One Skills of Spiritual Intelligence. Her ideas about this third dimension of leadership will send you deeper into your own thinking about how you can lead most effectively and authentically.

Multiple Intelligences and the Woman Leader

Women tend to score higher than men in emotional and spiritual intelligence. We have a natural tendency to develop skills the world desperately needs. Imagine what capitalism could look like if multiple intelligences were used in decision-making. Imagine if long-term good for future generations and the planet mattered to our corporations as much as or more than short-term gain. Women tend to balance these things more easily than men. So why don’t more women step into leadership roles?

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To me, a leader is somebody who gets something done. And while we make choices about what level and responsibility we take on as leaders, I believe that the most important leadership values are honesty and courage.

I was honored recently to be included as one of the Top 10 Leadership Experts to Follow on Twitter. Career Bliss writer Ritika Trikha compiled the list, which appears below.

But wait. Something was missing. Mine is the only female name on the Career Bliss list. Surely there are many terrific women who are leadership experts.

Let’s create our own list of women who ought to be on this or any other top leadership expert list. I’ll start with Bonnie Marcus whose GPS Your Career is brilliant.

Share your recommendations in the comments! If enough are recommend, we can give the list a name and publish it as the definitive Top 10. Why not?

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LisaBeth Weber tells how we met in this guest post. So I’ll tell you she is a woman with a vision. A vision that exemplifies No Excuses Power Tool # 8: Employ Every Medium.

And if a leader is someone who gets something done, then LisaBeth exemplifies leadership too. She uses the power of her artistry to make a difference for the causes she—and YOU—believe in. When you or I wear one of LisaBeth’s cause pins, we’re also using Power Tool # 6: Wear the Shirt –showing the world what we believe.

I’ll bet LisaBeth would love to know what you want on your pin, if she were to design one for you. So tell her in the comment section below.

How do I know Gloria? Our paths were destined to cross, and they finally did back in 2004 at a campaign event in Pennsylvania. Having defined a mission of making a difference in the world over 20 years ago, I’ve always channeled my core beliefs into my work. It seems inevitable that my creativity and mission would manifest into a line of handmade pins for causes that began with a pin about CHOICE.

As an artist and activist, I realized that an art-pin could be like a mini-billboard for people to ‘wear their heart on their lapel’, to spark conversation, and to effect change.

Over the years, I developed cause pins for politics and voting, peace and social justice, women’s rights, the environment, animal rescue, and more. The pins found their way to many non-profit organizations that have utilized them for fundraising and awareness.

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“Before I got pregnant, I was full-steam ahead in life,” said Carolina Pichardo, cofounder with Mary Targia of the educational and inspirational New York-based organization and website YUM (Young Urban Moms)

“I’d received a partial scholarship to New York University, after traveling abroad and interning at the New York City Public Advocate’s Office and Tor Books Publishing.”

But when she found out she was pregnant, the resulting harsh remarks and judgmental looks threw the slim, stately Harlem-born Pichardo off her track—for a while: “I just became angry. I didn’t know what to do with that anger, so I simply worked hard to prove those around me wrong.”

With some of the same rebel instincts that had propelled her parents to immigrate to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic—where her mother was a teacher and her father a doctor—she stayed in school through most of her pregnancy. She took a semester off after her daughter Lyanna (known as Lulu), now age 11, was born. Then she returned to earn her bachelor’s degree in communications from NYU “with leaky boob stories galore.”

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As the absurdity of right-wing political figures’ pathological obsession with women’s uteruses continues, many people ask why this is happening now and what to do about it. In this Woman of the Week interview with Anna Louie Sussman for the Women in the World Foundation, Gloria speaks about how women can act, using what we’ve got (that’s Power Tool #3) to embrace our power to insist on our right to our bodies, our right to financial stability.

The article, excerpted here, was originally published January 24, 2012, and can be read in full on the Women in the World website.

 

Everything you need to know about Gloria Feldt can be gleaned from her email signature: “Warmest Regards and No Excuses, Gloria.” Her superlative compassion and conviction, combined with her intelligence and charisma, have carried her from teenage motherhood in West Texas to a thirty-year career with the reproductive health provider and advocacy group Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which she directed from 1996 until 2005, when she resigned.

Her most recent book, No Excuses, examines women’s relationship to power with an honesty and nuance often glossed over in media discussions. We talked with her about the current state of reproductive freedom in America and how women can transform their relationship with power.

Women in the World Foundation: What led you to this issue of women and power?

Gloria Feldt: In 2008, I was writing an article for Elle magazine about the many organizations that help women run for office. They are legion, and they raise millions of dollars, but women are still less than half as likely to even think about running for office as men. What I found was that the problem is no longer that women have a hard time running: the doors are open. Voters trust women more, women are now as capable of raising money, and when they do run, they are just as likely to win.

But not enough of them are running,

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After a week in which women debated Anne-Marie Slaughter’s contention about Why Women Still Can’t Have It All, a wave of powerful articles challenging Slaughter are finally appearing. Dana Theus says that women who are at or as near the top as Facebook COO (and its latest board member) Sheryl Sandberg and Slaughter need to woman up and “own this power they have to choose how to spend their energy, and talk about it in powerful ways that honor people’s choices, then we’ll begin to build a culture that honors, supports and encourages the ‘balance of powers‘ needed at the top.”

And Gayle Tzemach Lemmon says we should be teaching girls they CAN have it all—even if they can’t.

I believe that following Theus’s and Lemmon’s advice would change everything. And more importantly, this is the moment to do so.

It’s the moment when women can lead and live without limits.

Why am I so confident?

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Not long ago I sat down with freelance writer Corine Garcia for this interview. The article originally appeared as a blog post at Womenetics.

Years ago, as a teenage mother without a college education, one could only imagine that Gloria Feldt felt somewhat limited in career options. But with the right amount of optimism, the proper use of power and her penchant for saying “Yes” to every opportunity, Feldt paved her way to leadership success as the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood.

Now, after recently being listed as one of “America’s Top 200 Women Leaders, Legends, and Trailblazers” by Vanity Fair magazine, Feldt’s latest bestselling book “No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power” offers well-founded advice to other women.

Womenetics: Vanity Fair named you one of “America’s Top 200 Women Leaders.” To what do you attribute your success as a leader?

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