A Tale of 2 Gloria’s: Steinem and Feldt on Using Their Power To Change The World

Gloria Feldt with lifelong friend, Gloria Steinem.

Gloria Feldt with lifelong friend, Gloria Steinem.

What can you learn from the chance to experience the wisdom from two of the most prominent changemakers on gender, equity and civil rights issues today?

Perhaps a better question is how quickly can you grab the chance?

Gloria Steinem and Gloria Feldt will be on hand for a benefit performance and live discussion December 15 of “Gloria: A Life,”an artful and intriguing look at the impact of the legendary leader on feminism, popular culture and history.

Join @TakeLeadWomen on December 15th for a special fundraiser performance of @GloriaThePlay where @GloriaSteinem will preside in a lively discussion in the second act. http://bit.ly/steinem1215

The second act of the critically-acclaimed play starring Christine Lahti is a conversation with Steinem.

The chance of a lifetime to ask questions and engage with both leaders is only available at this matinee performance, and you can register hereIf you are unable to attend, you can give the gift of attendance to a young woman who is on the waiting list for her chance to learn firsthand from both Steinem and Feldt.

The mission of Take The Lead, co-founded in 2013 by Gloria Feldt, intersects with the mission of Steinem. Feldt, a The New York Times best-selling author and internationally-recognized advocate of women’s rights, was a married teen mother of three in West Texas by the time she was 20. With more than four decades of working for civil rights, gender fairness and leadership equity, Vanity Fair named Feldt  to America’s Top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers.

“I would never imagined as a struggling young mom in West Texas, just awakening my feminist yearnings to be something beyond the picket fence, discovering Ms Magazine, and finding the six other subscribers in a 100-mile radius, that I would end up calling ‘the other Gloria’ (as we jokingly call each other) a friend and colleague in this work,” says Feldt.

Feldt cofounded Take The Lead after a 30- year career with Planned Parenthood starting in West Texas for four years, heading its Central and Northern Arizona affiliate for 18 years before serving as national CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America from 1996-2005. She teaches “Women, Power, and Leadership” at Arizona State University.

“Positive role models inspire us,” Feldt writes. “They help us develop pride and positive self- images. They show us what is possible and therefore what we are capable of doing. They can also allow us to see our faults, and make us aware of what we need to learn in order to reach our goals.”

Named to the list of “Forty Over 40” by Forbes, Feldt says, “In my lifetime women had become half the workforce but had been stuck at under 20 percent of the top leadership positions for almost two decades.At the snail’s pace we were going women might get to leadership parity in 70 years. Having been an activist for women for several decades already, I realized that actually it wasn’t likely I could live for 70 more years. I had to speed progress.”

Take The Lead’s mission as created by Feldt is to achieve gender parity in leadership across all sectors by 2025.

“Most of my life has been spent doing the frontline grassroots work in the least welcoming places, not in the New York limelight,” says Feldt.

It all comes together December 15 in a special fundraiser performance at Daryl Roth Theater, New York, where both Gloria Steinem and Gloria Feldt will preside in a lively discussion in the round for the second act. A generous donor has bought the house, so every donation goes to support Take The Lead programs and initiatives.

Like Feldt, Steinem has been involved in the founding of many key cultural and social justice  organizations. In 1968, she had helped to found New York magazine, and in 1972, she co-founded Ms. magazine, and remained one of its editors for 15 years.

Steinem helped to found the Women’s Action Alliance and the National Women’s Political Caucus; co-founded the Women’s Media Center in 2004; was president and co-founder of Voters for Choice; was co-founder and serves on the board of Choice USA (now URGE); is the founding president of the Ms. Foundation for Women; and a founder of Take Our Daughters to Work Day.

@GloriaFeldt, co-founder and president of @TakeLeadWomen, developed #9LeadershipPowerTools to shift the narrative of a person having power over someone or something into having the power to make change and implement action

Feldt developed 9 Leadership Power Tools as part of the curriculum to shift the narrative of a person having power over someone or something into having the power to make change and implement action. Here are the the top four tools designed by Feldt, and all align with Steinem’s mission.

  1. Know Your History: And you can create the future of your choice. In addition to the theatrical biopic starring Christine Lahti as Steinem, that is billed as “History, Her Story, Our Story,” the author, journalist, activist and social justice leader Steienm is executive producer on the upcoming film based on her best-selling memoir My Life on the Road. Julianne Moore stars as Steinem. Her history has also been told in the biography, The Education of a Woman, a biography by Carolyn Heilbrun, and HBO’s “Gloria: In Her Own Words.”

  2. Define Your Own Terms—First, Before Anyone Else Does. Feldt writes, “Whoever sets the terms of the debate usually wins. By redefining power not as ‘Power-Over,’ but as ‘Power-To’ we shift from a culture of oppression to a culture of positive intention to make things better for everyone. ‘Power-To’ is leadership.” On this topic, Steinem recently spoke to journalist Tanzina Vega on “The Takeaway” and says, “Listening is maybe the most revolutionary thing we can do. Part of the despair comes from a case of the ‘shoulds,’ as what I should do, instead of everyday getting up and doing everything I can.

  3. Use What You’ve Got. “What you need is almost always there. See it and use it with courage. Because power unused is power useless,” Feldt writes. Steinem uses her platforms as a journalist, author, public speaker, global activist and leader to affect change around the world on issues related to gender, violence, fairness, racism and equality.

  4. Embrace Controversy. “It gives you a platform. Nudges you to clarity. It’s your teacher, your source of strength, your friend, especially if you are trying to make a change.” Feldt explains. Steinem has embraced controversy for decades, particularly since going undercover as a Playboy bunny in 1963 for a story on the experience for Show. Her name has become synonymous with feminism and she continues her activism for women and girls, victims of domestic violence and child abuse.

Steinem recently told Refinery 29, “I never gave up hope. I have never seen such activism in my life. It’s a thousand times anything I’ve ever seen.”

Make sure you grab the chance –or offer it to a young woman –and meet both Gloria Steinem and Gloria Feldt December 15 for a special performance fundraiser of “Gloria: A Life” in New York.

Share the opportunity to hear from the legendary Steinem with young women and girls by sponsoring their attendance and benefiting Take The Lead. This is your chance to move the mission forward and act on the visions of Steinem and Feldt.

Steinem recently told an interviewer, “Because now we see everything illustrated at a high level, it has activated people. We are woke! We are awake in a way that I’ve never, ever, ever seen in my life.”

More details here on how you can participate in this rare opportunity.

About the Author

Michele Weldon is editorial director of Take The Lead, an award-winning author, journalist, emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University and a senior leader with The OpEd Project. @micheleweldonwww.micheleweldon.com