To celebrate International Women’s Day, we asked TogoRun women in each of our offices to share a few empowering words on who their hero is and why, what International Women’s Day means to them, and how they embody this year’s IWD theme – Be Bold For Change – in their daily lives. Here’s what they said:
Eboni Wingo, TogoRun New York
My hero is former First Lady Michelle Obama. Over the years, she has been an amazing role model and advocate for a number of issues that I hold near and dear to me, and I can’t forget her impeccable fashion sense; she is the epitome of poise and eloquence!
To me, International Women’s Day means recognizing, celebrating and showing appreciation for the various accomplishments of women throughout the world. The most important thing people can do today to empower women now – and in the future – is to encourage women to pursue their passions, from a young age. If we instill this in girls from an early age, they will never doubt their ability to reach their goals! I champion #BeBoldForChange by constantly pushing myself to stand up for what I believe in.
Diana Haugen, TogoRun Los Angeles
“Be kind to one another” – It’s a simple mantra that Ellen DeGeneres proclaims daily on her TV show, “Ellen.” It’s The Golden Rule in one easy package that we are encouraged to carry with us every day; yet, somedays, we forget that package on our doorstep. But, I find encouragement from Ellen, her words and example. She is a trailblazer in what it means to approach life, work and relationships in a positive way, and she embodies core values that are critical to empowering women: respect, tolerance, generosity, laughter and responsibility.
As a professional and a mom of two young boys, I aspire to #BeBoldForChange by following Ellen’s example and setting my own by prioritizing positivity and respect. I feel it’s important to contribute positive changes every day because over time, they can create a movement that asserts respect for all. We have to remember that people and relationships are everything in business and life.
So, as we celebrate International Women’s Day, a day that calls on us to forge a better working world, I can’t help but think about that package on my doorstep. This day reminds me to open the door to change through positivity and be kind to one another.
Ally Gotsell, TogoRun Boston
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have many positive female role models—SHEroes as I like to call them—to look up to in my life. Female politicians (shout out to Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren), professors (shout out to Professors Mattina and Gallagher), and managers (shout out to Jane, Anu, and TogoRun’s very own Amy Thomas!) have all motivated and influenced me. However, my most important SHEro is my biggest supporter—my mom. She’s a hard-working nurse who has instilled her work ethic in me, encouraging me to follow my dreams and letting nothing, especially my gender, stop me.
To me, International Women’s Day is about celebrating women and advocating for complete and total gender equality. I think the most important thing people can do to empower women is to embrace intersectional feminism—the understanding of how women’s overlapping identities, such as race, class, sexual orientation, ability, ethnicity, and religion, impact the way they experience discrimination and oppression.
I embody #BeBoldforChange by championing for the rights of other women. I’m passionate about reproductive justice—in April I’m leading a team raising money for an organization that helps people in Massachusetts have access to reproductive healthcare. Additionally, on January 21st I stood alongside tens of thousands of other women at the Boston Women’s March because I believe a group of strong and united women have the power to change the world!
Grainne Maguire, TogoRun London
There are many heroes who inspire me, but the most important one for me is my mother. To me, she embodied all the great attributes of heroes – bold, brave and fearless. Although her life was not without tragedy, she pushed forward regardless, letting her spirit power her resolve. She fought for her education, accomplished many things and inspired those who met her. In her 80s, she left her home of 60 years, moved to a new country and reinvented herself becoming a published poet. For me, International Women’s Day is about harnessing that hero spirit which abides in women – to awaken, enlighten and empower women – building a solidarity of purpose where we help each other build a better future. The key I believe is education, education, education – we can’t achieve what we need to achieve without it. Let’s work together to unleash our hero spirit and be #boldforchange.
Radhika Puri, TogoRun DC
I have had the honor of having many influential women mold the person I am today. One of these includes my AP Calculus teacher from high school, Becky Lazzeri. In November 2014, Mrs. Lazzeri was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of cancer. At that point, she had run 30 marathons. Through radiation and chemo, she went on to run three marathons after her diagnosis and completing treatment. Once asked what this experience meant to her, she expressed that while she is slower, she is not embarrassed. She thinks it is humbling that as a cancer survivor, she is able to chase normal and do the things she loves. She started a support group called Press On dedicated to athletes diagnosed with cancer. She says, “I wish I could have had someone support me as I ran to chemo or as I became so weak that every run was more of a jog/walk/crawl. Someone to tell me that it was ok to be slow, ok to walk, ok to ‘run’ only a couple of days a week. Someone to tell me to enjoy a few minutes of wind in my hair (oh yeah, I didn’t have hair). Someone to tell me that trying to run would feel like dragging weights while underwater. Someone to tell me that I could make a comeback. I may be slower, but much more thankful for each step.” She also raises money to advance cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Mrs. Lazzeri inspires me because she is able to stay positive in the face of adversity and come out of incredibly difficult personal struggles stronger than ever.
To me, International Women’s Day is a reminder to be thankful of all the women in your life who have made sacrifices so that you can be where you are today. My grandmother did it for my mother. My mom does it for me. And many times, if you have the chance of getting close to your teachers like Mrs. Lazzeri and my relationship, you learn how their untold stories outside of the classroom can shape and inspire you when you face challenges.
I have always stood up for what I believe is right. While this might seem cliché, I think being bold is not about doing something out of the ordinary. Many times, it’s about assessing what in the daily norms of society actually has a positive effect on your and the collective whole’s growth. I think change comes from viewing/absorbing what the world tells you with a grain of salt, and only engaging and taking in what actually grows your character for the better. Finding the passion to make change comes from first recognizing why something is productive or destructive.