Spitfire Strategies

The Women Who Came Before Me

Recently, my 100-year-old grandma-in-law (GG to my kids) completed her absentee ballot. Born before women had the right to vote, she was over the moon to be able to cast her vote for a woman president.

My sister-in-law took a photo of her beaming face after she completed the form and it gave me goosebumps. That photo encapsulated so much, both personally and professionally.


I look at this photo, and not only do I see my boys’ GG, I see weathered eyes that have experienced great love, tremendous loss and a tenacity that has pulled her through it all. After raising three daughters and taking care of her mother, she went back to school to get her college degree at the age of 60. Now, even at 100, she still shows that same fierce determination, volunteering for causes she believes in, exercising nearly every day, and gently (or not so gently) nudging her children and grandchildren to be the best people they can. 

In many regards, she reminds me of our Democratic presidential candidate. Like Secretary Clinton, GG (don’t let the sweet name fool you), is tough as nails, and has unbelievably high standards for herself and those around her. She’s principled, doesn’t put up with any BS, and is the true matriarch of the family. Like the rumors that swirl about Hillaryland, I’m pretty sure GG keeps a list of who’s on her good side. When my husband and I first started dating nearly 10 years ago, I was more nervous about winning over his grandma than the rest of his family. I think I succeeded, but I need to check the list.

And while this picture swells a lot of deep emotions for me on a personal level, it also serves as an important reminder of why I am so committed to fighting for women’s rights.

For me, like many women of my generation, my passion for politics and justice came from my mom. I grew up reading her Ms. Magazine, attending rallies and protests, stuffing envelopes for our local candidates. I went to college thinking I wanted to run for office one day, and once I graduated, I realized I could possibly do even more on the other side of politics. I’ve been trying to do that every day since.

Every day, I get to help our clients fight for causes that I believe in with all of my heart, whether it’s advocating for policies that will end gender discrimination in pay; protecting every woman’s right to control her own reproductive decisions; providing working families with paid sick days so they can take care of themselves and their families; and making sure that those who struggle every day to get by have what they need to make it in the world.

My mom passed away sixteen years ago this past August. She would have been tickled pink to cast her vote for a woman president (and beyond that, I’m sure she would have campaigned her heart out for her). In her memory, and in GG’s honor, I continue to fight for women’s rights so that my future grandchildren grow up in a world where they can read about the first woman president and know there are so many more to come.

“This truly is the gold standard of executive training.  I have benefited greatly.”

- Roland Stringfellow, Director of Ministerial Outreach, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies

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