Executive Power VS. Super Power ???

Cartoon by Tom Toro, published In the New Yorker 2015

Cartoon by Tom Toro, published In the New Yorker 2015

Yesterday I was feeling exhilarated after watching the new Wonder Woman movie (a superb, action-packed superhero blockbuster.)  However, reality quickly set in when I read about our President's tweets attacking the accomplished savvy female TV host, Mika Brzezinski.

Trump’s vulgarity is just another unfortunate reminder that all Americans have much work to do in combating the "villainous" misogynists in our midst.  And while the Hollywood hutzpah of Wonder Woman is a refreshing change in a male-dominated genre, we all know it doesn’t take superpowers to combat sexism.  It just takes a sense of equality, human decency, and respect. 

"Any female leader is inherently an innovator, paving the way for others to follow"

When I was eight years old, I decided I wanted to get a doctoral degree. I had just spent some time going through one of my favorite books at the time, Kiss My Math by Danica McKellar, when I noticed that by the author’s name was a suffix I had never seen before: “PhD”. I ran into my parents’ room and asked them what these three little letters meant, listening as my mom explained how they were reserved for very smart people who contributed a unique theory to their field of study.

Wanting to be like the amazing woman who wrote this book, I whipped out my rainbow notepad and sparkly pen and got to work.

After an hour of struggling through my fourth-grade-level arithmetic, the conclusion of my basic calculations showed that 1= 0. Thinking I had broken math and would surely get that coveted “PhD” for my efforts, I tucked the paper with all my mathematical scribbles onto my bookshelf for safekeeping.

Though I didn’t get that doctorate at age eight, I kept that same curiosity and determination through all of my studies. In my imagination, there was no goal too high, no ambition unachievable. Eventually, my interest in science and math led me to discover my love of astronomy. By the time I was in high school, I knew that to become a research professor in astronomy, I would need to understand physics. It wasn’t until my first day in a formal high school physics class, eight years after learning what a PhD was, that I started to doubt my abilities. As one of three female students out of more than 20 in my class, I had my first experience with the gender gap in STEM. Though I was slightly more intimidated by the journey to become an astronomer after that first course ended, I stuck with my original intentions as I graduated high school, went to college, and chose to major in physics.

The introductory STEM courses at most universities are often considered to be the “weed out” courses, designed to separate those truly interested in pursuing a subject from those who are not as serious. Research has demonstrated that this process affects women more than in does men; despite taking similar courses in their K-12 education, significantly fewer women than men graduate from almost every scientific area of study. My freshman year calculus and physics classes hit me hard, and I found myself wondering if I was cut out for STEM as I struggled to grasp the concepts in the most foundational classes our school offered.

Later that year, I became a part of the Women in Physics group on campus. As I began participating more in their events, I realized that those feelings of insecurity and self-doubt had also been felt by many of the female physicists I consider to be role models, including fellow students and professors. Finally, I had found my place as a physics major, both getting and giving support in this community of strong women, who just happened to have a love of science.

Last fall, I realized that my journey in STEM was pushing me in a new direction. As I began thinking about where I would apply for summer research or internships, I found myself searching for opportunities that would allow me to use my physics background indirectly. The idea of advocating for STEM from through public policy was not something I had considered for my own goals before but was something I immediately found interesting. Deciding that pursuing science policy had the potential to completely change my direction in college, I applied to an internship through the Office of International and Interagency Relations at NASA Headquarters for the next internship cycle available over the spring.

The challenge of being female and a leader in any field does not come from women being any less smart, talented, and capable than their male counterparts. Rather, the challenge comes from not seeing many people like you who have already undertaken the journey you are about to start.

Until I spent the last semester off from school to complete this internship in Washington, D.C., my experiences in physics came only through my classes and my research projects. Suddenly, I was involved in science on a governmental scale. My focus shifted from depth to breadth; instead of contributing to one project, I had an impact on many projects as I helped draft agreements with foreign partners and plan international seminars. I supported work in aeronautics, astrophysics, and everywhere in between, learning pieces about each program mission along the way. Immersed in my work at NASA, I realized that I don’t have to be in a lab to support my interests in science and to advocate for women in STEM. Work happening through the government to ensure the success of individual projects in STEM is just as essential as the work of scientists to push their fields forward.  

As I continue to study physics while branching out to explore science policy, I’ve realized that the challenge of being female and a leader in any field does not come from women being any less smart, talented, and capable than their male counterparts. Rather, the challenge comes from not seeing many people like you who have already undertaken the journey you are about to start. Any female leader is inherently an innovator, paving the way for others to follow and making it easier for others to create their own paths in the future. It is this idea that keeps pushing me forward. Although my future goals might change, I now can reassure my eight-year-old self, knowing that women can do anything, especially when we empower those around us along the way.

Katie is from Bettendorf, Iowa and is a sophomore Physics major at Yale University. With a combined interest in scientific research and communication, she intends to pursue a career working toward the advancement of science through policy development and public education. She is on the board of the Yale Women in Physics, and outside of STEM, she loves to plays clarinet in the marching band and train for half-marathons.

Every Mother, Sister, Daughter and Friend Can Touch Our Lives and Make a Difference

Nevertheless, She Persisted Series by Jennifer, Siobhan & Niamh

I am a milliner who lives and works in Brewster, New York.  As a milliner, I have been in business for over 25 years and have sold my designs to high end retailers and private customers, worldwide.  I studied millinery during my junior year of study in London and began selling hats when I graduated college in 1993. Over the years, I have worked as a women's wear buyer and merchandiser. I am a wife and mother to twin girls who were born very prematurely.  To say the last 14 years has been challenging and a juggling act would be an understatement.  It is not always easy to be a mom and a business woman, sometimes you have to put what you love doing aside.  While always maintaining my business at a certain level it is just in the past year I have been able to focus more time on my hats.

Large Message Fedoras made of Toyo Straw by Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy, Milliner/ Hat Designer www.jenniferhoertz.com & mother of Siobhan and Niamh

Large Message Fedoras made of Toyo Straw by Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy, Milliner/ Hat Designer www.jenniferhoertz.com & mother of Siobhan and Niamh

When Katrina, who also photographs my collections, asked me and my girls to be a part of the PIP nevertheless  campaign it was an honor and has been very exciting to come up with an idea in my genre of millinery.  Back in 1998 and again in 2005 while working with a sunscreen company, I began putting the SPF message on simple sun hats as a reminder of the importance of wearing sunscreen and a hat to protect our skin.  I revisited this idea over the past few years with messages such as SPF, and the word sun hat in various languages including French, Italian and Chinese on simple sunhats.  This was the perfect way to get the message “Nevertheless, She Persisted” across because everyday I find that I, too, am persisting at following dreams.   I think it is important to show our daughters that through hard work and persistence we can make a difference in our own lives and the lives of others no matter what path we follow.  Every mother, sister, daughter, and friend can touch our lives and make a difference.  I hope that I can be an inspiration and role model for my own daughters to be above all .... persistent.

Drawing by Siobhan Mulcahy, 8th grader & daughter of Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy and twin sister of Niamh

Drawing by Siobhan Mulcahy, 8th grader & daughter of Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy and twin sister of Niamh

My name is Siobhan Mulcahy.  I am 13 years old and live in Brewster New York.  I play the flute and I am involved with the plays at school and the 4H.  I am also a Girl Scout and working on the Silver award with my troop.  I love art and spend my spare time drawing cartoons, animating and creating characters for my stories.  I have a twin sister Niamh and we have a dog, bird and chickens.  My favorite book is “Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children” because it shows us that it is okay to be who you are and express yourself through your talents.  I think I am a good sister and friend.  I created this piece of art to show that life is a balancing act for all women even for an 8th grader like me.   

Drawing by Niamh Mulcahy, 8th grader & daughter of Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy and twin sister of Siobhan

Drawing by Niamh Mulcahy, 8th grader & daughter of Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy and twin sister of Siobhan

My name is Niamh Mulcahy.  I am 13 years old and live in Brewster New York.  I have a twin sister Siobhan, a dog named Maggie and Chickens.  I am a member of the National Junior Honor Society and a Girl Scout, working on my silver award.  I am on the field hockey team at school and my favorite club is creative writing and I like to draw and read.  My favorite books are the Harry Potter series and favorite author is J.K. Rowling.  I like Harry Potter because not only is it a great adventure and lets me use my imagination, it shows us that anyone can do anything regardless of where they come from or what other people think.  It also shows us that we should accept each other for who we are and that our talents are what make us unique.  I made this picture when I was doodling in my spare time and was inspired to share it, here, to show about diversity.  We all are different and it is important for people to accept each other.

Twins Niamh (left), & Siobhan (right) and mom/milliner/hat designer-Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy, whose fabulous hats can be found at: www.jenniferhoertz.com

Twins Niamh (left), & Siobhan (right) and mom/milliner/hat designer-Jennifer Hoertz-Mulcahy, whose fabulous hats can be found at: www.jenniferhoertz.com

When you show up for work in the morning and end the day as a hero.

Nevertheless, She Persisted Series by George Hamp

“You know what a great pilot would have done?,” Matt Damon’s airline pilot character rhetorically asks Alec Baldwin’s TV executive character about pilot-hero Sully Sullenberger. “Not hit the birds. That’s what I do every day. Not hit birds. Where’s my ticket to the Grammys?”

Hilarious. But more importantly, it’s comedy as commentary. It reminds us that showing up to do your best at your job will rarely get you a medal. You’re doing what’s expected of you and what you get paid to do. And by all accounts, that’s what Senator Elizabeth Warren does every day. (AKA - not hit the birds.)

As a senator, she has one of the lowest missed vote rates. She ranks near the top in terms of session attendance. She sits on 12 committees (and subcommittees). She is an effective senator doing what she was elected to do. The job of being a United States Senator.

Which brings us to the evening of February 7 and what should have been just another day at the office for Senator Warren. But things suddenly took a turn towards unprecedented territory.

Warren used her time to read a letter Coretta Scott King wrote in 1986 about Jeff Sessions’ racial bias. Those concerns eventually derailed Jeff Sessions’ nomination for a Federal Judge position. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell felt a line had been crossed. If he had just let it go, the letter would have reverted back to its status of forgotten history and Senator Warren’s opposition to the nomination would likely have been forgotten as well. It’s important to note that Sessions would have been confirmed no matter what was said that night.

Elizabeth Warren was not creating political theater. This was not an attempt to earn media time or to push a personal agenda. In fact, very few people were even paying attention. However, the senate is constitutionally obligated to give “advice and consent” on high-level nominees. She was doing exactly that. 

But when censored, Senator Warren used the power of social media to inform (not antagonize), and finished reading the letter just outside the senate chamber. 

Mitch McConnell also spoke.“She was warned,” he said. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

Within 24 hours, a reported three million people were actively following the story with thousands more starting to follow by the minute. “Nevertheless, She Persisted” became a rallying cry.  The Internet was flooded with comparisons to Rosa Parks, Ruby Neil Bridges and even Darth Vader vs. Princess Leah (comedy as commentary again). A night that never should have happened became a story that is not going away.

In conversations since then, women explained to me that they have heard McConnell's language in some form or other throughout their lives. It translates to sit down. Be quiet. Know your place. And I believe that’s just plain wrong.

When Power In Place sent out a call for entries of art, thoughts, etc. about this moment in history, I sent in a couple of pieces of art. When the follow-up question was asked about what inspired me, the answer is simple.

I admire Senator Warren's persistence on all of our behalves and I’m following her example. I’m doing my job. And trying not to hit those pesky birds.

George Hamp is a painter, historian and graphic designer. He currently works as creative director for a top political persuasion mail firm. A native Floridian and life-long sailor, he channels his non-work pursuits towards advocating legislation that protects our oceans and coastlines.


Our Voices are the Future by Amira, 12 years old

I went to the Women’s March in New York City and I really enjoyed it. I went with a group from my school called “Girl Power Club”. We meet every Wednesday during lunch to watch videos about the history of feminism and current events. We then talk about our opinions and reactions. One time we listened to and wrote a statement that we would have included in the Riot grrrl manifesto. Before the march, we made signs with messages that we wanted to spread. We marched together. There were a lot of people at the march, the streets were packed, so we ended up standing on one block for an hour. I still really loved marching with my friends and seeing how many people came out to stand up for women’s rights and LGBTQ rights.

I live in Brooklyn and I’m 12 years old. I have a brother and a sister. I’m mixed (half black, quarter white, quarter Korean.) My parents are divorced, so I live with my dad, stepmom and brother half the week and live with my mom the other half. I’m with my sister everyday. I love my school and my family. I like dancing, ice skating, walking fast and listening to music.

I, Too, Shall Endure by 
Elizabeth Rexer Leonard

Nevertheless, She Persisted Series

When I think about what it means to be a woman, a mother, a daughter a sister, I think of the immense capability for compassion and love. I think about the power of the feminine, I think about the sea and the moon. I think about Mother Earth. I draw upon the power of nature to remind me that I, too, am powerful. I, too, shall endure. I, too, shall persist in this world. Despite what comes my way, I will bear witness to things that are unjust and I will be present for my fellow human beings. I will continue to teach my children compassion, I will continue to teach them perseverance and to work towards what is just and right. In uncertain times, the good the just and the kind will persevere.

Elizabeth Rexer Leonard: mixed media on wood 2016-“Hand Eyes & Mouth"

Elizabeth Rexer Leonard: mixed media on wood 2016-“Hand Eyes & Mouth"

This painting is a response to the objectifying of women, her hand is outstretched her breasts and groin are replaced by eyes and a mouth. She more than an object, she is woman, she is strong, she will persist. ***And wear whatever she likes!

Elizabeth Rexer Leonard is a New York native. Willem deKooning, Basquiat and Georgia O’Keefe are some of her strongest influences. Elizabeth’s focuses on gender issues and social injustices in her artwork. She attended the University of Rhode Island and taught art at City Arts in Providence RI. Artist turned Farmer, she spends her days, now sowing seeds and raising her two children.


"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." by Margaret Prior Roberts

There was a lot of people, including men. It was hard to move around, and it was hard to find people because it was so crowded. Even though it was hard to move, a lot of people were having fun. There was this police officer there who was cheering everybody on. He was on a big platform, making jokes, and shouting to us. 

That’s a quote of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Photo: Tiffany Jackson

Photo: Tiffany Jackson


All of the signs there were really creative and some of them were funny. One sign said "I was told there would be a swamp draining" and another one said "We are the daughters of the witches you forgot to burn." My cousin told me that that was her friend's sign. My sign said "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." That's a quote of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.







I’m in 3rd grade. I love reading, writing, monkey bars, and my two little brothers.  My favorite hobby is cutting paper into tiny shreds.

Girl Power by Millie Schmidt

"I've never seen so many people in my life!"

My name is Millie Schmidt and I'm seven years old. I went with my mom and some of our friends to the Women's March in NYC. We live here so we didn't have to travel, too far. There were SO many people there -- my mom had to lift me up a couple times, so I could see everyone! 

We marched because we think girls should have the same rights as everyone else. And right now Donald Trump is trying to make everyone feel like they're not equal, and that's not fair. My mom says everything is going to be okay, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't stand up for what we believe in. 

I like when we chanted "This is what democracy looks like!" People were staring at us and then they started yelling it, too!

My mom says everything is going to be okay, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t stand up for what we believe in.

My name is Millie and I'm 7 years old. I live in NYC with my parents & little sister, Vivian. My favorite things are reading (I love Harry Potter!), riding my scooter at the park and building forts in my room. I go to a dual language public school in Upper Manhattan and am learning lots of Spanish!

The Women’s March from a Kid’s Perspective

The Women’s March was crowded with tons and tons of people holding up signs for woman rights, not that I could see them clearly though…

Photo: Mom- Jamina Oomen-Hajagos

Photo: Mom- Jamina Oomen-Hajagos

My name is Cheyenne and I’m ten years old. I attended the Women’s March to show Donald Trump that we will have our rights, whether he likes it or not. In fact, even more people came to the march in New York than to Trump’s inauguration.
Even though, I was a little too short to see the signs clearly, I still saw that many more people bigger than me, believe in getting those rights for women!

Since this was my first march, I was really excited to see what a march was like. I’m glad my first march was for a very important cause! Even if I was too small to see some signs and got squished around in the crowd, I was very happy, no matter what because I was supporting a major cause!



My name is Cheyenne and I’m ten years old and I live in Long Island, New York. I love all animals, but I especially love Narwhals. Many of my hobbies include: art, singing and playing the clarinet. I have one brother, named Eli. I consider myself to be a sensitive, thoughtful and creative person.



Why Not Me? My story on why I ran to be an Assembly District Delegate in 2017

By: Grìsell Ariana Rodrìguez, SEIU-UHW, Assistant Director

Politics have always been in my DNA. I started young having political conversations at home.  Being a product of parents who escaped a civil war in Nícaragua, I was very self-aware of others’ living conditions.  As an 11 year old girl, living in California, as a first generation immigrant, I remember so clearly how the year 1994 affected me. Why 1994? Because it was the year Proposition 187 ballot initiative was passed. The ballot initiative would bar federal funding or access to social services to any undocumented Latino or anyone that looked "suspiciously illegal.”  It was widely believed that the political motivation behind the proposition was to intimidate the growing Latino population. When it passed, I was scared and fearful for my classmates, my family, friends and anyone who didn't look Caucasian.

Fast forward to 2016- I’ve had the amazing opportunity to work in the Labor Movement. For the last 8 years, I’ve always worked behind the scenes on every election since 2008: turning out our members, building up volunteers, and organizing Get Out the Vote (GOTV) for the campaigns we worked on.  In 2013, I had the opportunity to lead the first enrollment event in Southern California for the Affordable Care Act. It was 100% volunteer driven and we continued to enroll over 20,000 Californians over the next 2 years.

2016 started out like a regular election year, my job was to build up regional teams of leaders to participate in the primaries and the general election cycle.  My other responsibility, as the Secretary Treasurer for the Latino Caucus, was to get out the vote. During the week, I spent all of October turning out members to phone banks in Los Angeles.  Then I’d hop on a bus to Las Vegas, Nevada, in order to secure the Latino Vote for Hillary Clinton and Catherine Cortez Masto (the 1st Latína US Senator).

The following day after the election, I vowed to do more, not just for me, but for all the children in Los Angeles County

 The election season was exciting and come Election Day, Get Out the Vote (GOTV) day was seamless as ever in Nevada . On the bus back home, reality hit.  As an organizer, I began to do the numbers and it hit me for a second that everything that was at stake might be compromised.  Then I received a call from my 11 year old daughter, panicking and asking if we were going to be deported. In that moment, 1994 was happening all over again, but this time my daughter was the little girl. We all know what happened on November 9th.  To be honest, I felt so sickened, just like the day my ex-husband walked out on me with 3 children.

The following day after the election, I vowed to do more, not just for me, but for all the children in Los Angeles County, who woke up in fear due to Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric. That’s why, when I became aware of the Assembly District Delegate Elections, I didn’t think twice about running.  I had more than enough experience behind the scenes to be qualified.  I wanted my district to be reflective of its constituents, with more representation by minority women. On January 7th, I was elected as an official delegate of the 36th District in California.


Grisell A Rodriguez is a social activist in the labor movement and has the privilege to build leadership teams across California that passionately engage in social justice movements. She is currently seeking a post-graduate degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership. She represents constituents of the 36th Assembly District in California, all the while, raising 3 independent, fearless thinkers, who know more about politics, than your average adult.