My partner at the Mountain Mamas, Erica, told me months ago to watch Abby Wombach’s Barnard College commencement speech: The Wolf Pack. As is my typical M.O., I opened a tab in my web browser (there are many, many, many open tabs in my web browser) with good intentions of watching it immediately. Unfortunately, attention took me elsewhere and I promptly went back to work.
The past several months I’ve been a nervous wreck regarding work. I’ve failed, a few times. I’ve worked hard, I’ve continued to learn an immense amount, and I’ve also had many wins. But as many Americans understand only too well, owning a business and running a non-profit are hard, stressful, uncertain, and you have to be prepared to weather many failures along the way.
The past few months, as women often do, I began questioning my abilities, my talents, and my experience. I work in a male-dominated field. As many women are conditioned to act, I’ve been ASKING to have a seat at the table for years. And every so often, I get one. And instead of demanding another seat for my female colleagues, I am encouraged to just feel lucky that I am there at all.
Fundraising for non-profits is a constant challenge and task. At the Mamas we are constantly applying for grants, meeting with prospective donors, and scraping funding together so that we can continue to do work central to our mission of growing women’s voices in conservation, enabling our families to access public lands and water, and cultivating the next generation of female leaders.
As I was in the shower this morning fretting about whether or not funding was going to come through – hoping to be again asked to sit at the table – I was overcome with a simple thought: we fucking own that table. We don’t need an invitation.
So, I finally sat down and watched that Abby Wombach commencement speech. As an organization leading and growing the current and future generations of women brave enough to stand up for our public lands and waters, we have five words for our conservation colleagues, our funders, and our elected officials: GIVE US THE EFFING BALL!
There are truly so many gems in Amy’s speech; we can’t begin to do them all justice. But perhaps most important is leadership, and parenting is the biggest, boldest, most courageous form of leadership. Every day we are modeling to our children not just WHAT they might want to be. Rather, we are modeling to them WHO they want to be.
Every so often, women need to be reminded of our power. I needed that this morning. Thank you Abby Wombach, thank you Erica Lighthiser, thank you Kristyn Benson, thank you every single woman out there leading, taking risks, and dreaming big to benefit the next woman, and the next, and the next.
And to my girls, Addy, Myla and Kaia: you are never Little Red Riding Hood. You were never born with your heads down, afraid to step off the path, asking for permission. No. Always remember: YOU ARE THE WOLVES.