On The Avenue

‘A Historic Time for Women’ — Ya think?

by Debbie Bancroft Photographed by Mark Sagliocco/PMC
Friday, October 5, 2018

On Wednesday, October 3, the National Women’s History Museum hosted a New York salon with panelists Stephanie Berger, Erin Vilardi, Rachel Vogelstein and Rina Shah. The event was not only achingly timely, it also had an exciting announcement: Board member and co-chair of the event Cheri Kaufman introduced Board Chair Susan Whiting, who told us: “We plan to have a place on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. in 2020 to gather and celebrate the Centennial of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, the most significant milestone towards women’s equality, in American History. We will launch some special exhibits to preview what our Museum with walls, will be like. We have waited long enough.”

As they hope you know, the Museum is a non-partisan, nonprofit institution dedicated to education, inspiring, empowering and shaping the future by integrating women’s distinctive history into the culture and history of the United States. The panel told us that only 13 % of characters in U.S. history textbooks are women. Helen Keller and Hilary Clinton were just dumped from Texas textbooks, to make space for more significant people, and the New York Times has a new series of forgotten historic women’s obits. You get the gist, and the need.

Moderator, NBC and CNBC’s Katie Tur said she’d like to nominate her mother, the first heli-journalist, for inclusion in the museum, and said her previous job as a weather woman helped her prepare for the tornado we are living in. The esteemed panelists—The Council on Foreign Relations’  Vogelstein; Berger, veteran campaign strategist and head of the Women’s Campaign School at Yale (no—not the same class); Vilardi, founder of VoteRunLead which trains women to run and win; and Shah, a political consultant and commentator. What was the outtake at this precarious and emotional moment? While the good news is that more women are running for office than ever, they still need more networking, money, campaign finance reform, and earlier voting. Meryl Streep has put her considerable influence and dollars behind the project.

The audience included major supporters with clout: Co-Chairs Vin Cipolla, Bonnie Lautenberg, Peixin Dallara, Susan Danish, Michelle Begina, Christine Carty, Susan Falk, Muffie Meyer, Pamela Newman, Ellen Rose, Barbara Samuels, Margo Catsimatidis, Aditi Deeg and Museum Board Chair Susan Whiting, Caroline Fitzgibbons, Kara Ross, Jane Friedman, Girl Scout’s CEO Sylvia Acevedo, Governor David Paterson and my friend Fern Mallis, who hid her drink of choice—a beer. “I’m embarrassed by the implications,” she fessed up.

There will be another salon soon, and hopefully in bigger space as this was SRO; and a fundraiser in D.C. in 2019.  We exited by the augmented reality display of legendary women, presented by Give Me 360 (Cheri’s newest venture), and felt a little bit more optimistic. Scratch that-a lot!


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