Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Women Making Power Moves

Anyone who knows me knows that I am unapologetically Pro-Woman all day, every day. I love to see women succeed and I pay close attention to smart, driven, authentic women who are climbing to the highest heights or silently making moves in the background to advance a cause or help others. I especially admire those who aren't tearing other women down as they ascend. I tell anyone who will listen that I desperately loathe reality television shows that cast women in a negative light. It makes me so angry that women, young and old, agree to put their shallow, meaningless lives on display, showing the ugliest side of themselves for money and fleeting fame. How can they disregard the fact that young girls are watching their every move and taking plays from their playbook on how to dress, how to manipulate men and how to FIGHT other women?

Thankfully, all young girls aren't that impressionable and many have REAL women to pattern their lives after---women who respect themselves and others. And I am praying for the proverbial winds of change to shift the American consciousness away from the garbage we call entertainment, to real television that celebrates and values a woman's character, her talents, and her heart.

So, let me spend a minute recognizing just a few women who matter to me. Some I know personally, some I don't. But I am watching, listening and learning as they demonstrate how they live their lives with class, honor and decorum. I respect the way they are advancing their careers with a sense of pride and purpose, showing other women how it should be done. 
Angela Burt-Murray is a woman constantly making power moves! The former editor-in-chief of Essence magazine is co-host of Exhalethe provocative new talk series on the Aspire Network. Exhale premieres this Thursday, June 27 at 8pm ET. This superwoman also co-founded CocoaFab, a fast-paced celebrity news and style site covering urban pop culture. I admire Angela's leadership and ingenuity in media and now, television. And her wonderful spirit is well... check her out starting this week on Exhale and see for yourself why she's on my list of powerful women!

Best known for her work as an advocate for HIV/AIDS & women’s health Cookie Johnson has stepped out of her “retirement” from being a busy full-time wife and mother, to devote herself to instilling confidence in modern women of various shapes and sizes through her premium denim line, Cj by Cookie Johnson. Devoted to empowering women, Cookie’s efforts now reach beyond the philanthropic endeavors she and her husband, iconic basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson are known for. 

I adore Cookie. As someone who has written speeches for her on the subject of HIV awareness and female entrepreneurship, I respect that for more than 20 years, she has been on the front lines fighting for more HIV/AIDS testing and advocacy, and has developed her own powerful brand. And have I mentioned that her jeans look fabulous on all women? My hat is off to the beautiful, intelligent, down-to-earth Cookie Johnson! 

Nischelle Turner is an entertainment correspondent for CNN and HLN's Showbiz Tonight. She's smart, talented and having worked as a sideline reporter for FOX's Sunday NFL broadcasts, she's giving her male counterparts a run for their money in the sports IQ department. We see you, Nischelle! Follow Nischelle on Twitter: @nischelleturner.
Speaking of powerful women, are you aware of the impact Padmasree Warrior has had on Cisco as the company's Chief Technology & Strategy Officer? She commands attention at every level and is a formidable leader. Listed #57 on Forbes Power Women list this year, Padmasree is charged with aligning technology development and corporate strategy to enable Cisco to anticipate, shape and lead major market transitions.

Sadira Furlow is one of my favorite women on the planet and a real force to be reckoned with in the advertising world. She is the senior director of business development for Chicago-based commonground Marketing Agency where she spends her days leading new business, solving problems, inspiring cross agency collaboration and consulting…all while remembering to have fun! Love this smart, talented, classy lady!

South African-born actress, Charlize Theron is beautiful and memorable by all standards. I just love her poise and confidence. In 2007, she founded the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project (CTAOP) in an effort to support African youth in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In addition to being a philanthropist and social activist, she has kicked ass in countless movie roles and she's often the classiest woman in the room at celebrity "see and be seen" functions. And her haircut? What?!? Respect due. 

Dr. Bernadette Sanchez is an associate professor in DePaul University's Department of Psychology. This spirited professor's major areas of interest include community psychology, positive youth development, youth mentoring, race, ethnicity, and culture, academic achievement and education. She is kind, honest and one of the smartest women I know. Definitely a rising star in the world of academia. Keep an eye on this dynamic woman!

One of my all-time favorites, Robin Roberts is co-anchor of ABC's Good Morning America. She is honest and what you see is what you get on and off camera. I featured her in my new book, Dare To Be Extraordinary, A Collection of Positive Life Lessons from African American Fathers. In her chapter, I wrote: "Robin brings joy, honesty, and news to millions of loyal Good Morning America viewers each day. When she laughs, we laugh. When she cries, we cry. Roberts has an uncanny way of making us feel her joy and her pain, and her extraordinary brand of journalism can’t be taught in school or learned in a newsroom. Off camera, she is just as humble and authentic as she is on camera. People are naturally drawn to her..."

I stand by these words. Recently, she has survived health battles and the loss of some of the people closest to her and she's still standing and giving of herself each and every day. It doesn't get much more real than this.

Eva Longoria is a charismatic, no-nonsense Mexican-American actress who's passionate about politics, education and the world in which we live. She has made enough money in her lifetime to quietly continue to hone her craft and live a nice Hollywood lifestyle. Instead, she strives to do more. In 2012, Eva co-chaired of President Barack Obama's re-election committee and campaigned for the President. She is also a restauranteur and philanthropist, and did I mention that she earned her master's degree in Chicano Studies from California State University, Northridge in May 2013? Yep, Eva is a real powerhouse and I salute her. 
Susan Blumberg-Kason is an author, columnist and blogger who writes fascinating prose and articles about her experiences living in Hong Kong and about Jews in WWI China. I love that she writes beautifully about a part of the world and a culture she is deeply passionate about. Susan, who's upcoming book, Good Chinese Wife will be published by Sourcebooks in 2014, is someone I pay close attention to because she is most definitely paving the way for her own success... and I'm taking notes. Check out Susan's website
Gloria Jean Watkins, better known by her pen name, bell hooks, is a woman who's writing speaks to my soul. Through her writing, bell hooks forces her readers to think deeply about love, sexuality, race, class and gender.  And I've loved her work for probably two decades now. In her writing, she has focused on the interconnectivity of race, capitalism, and gender and what she describes as their ability to produce and perpetuate systems of oppression and class domination. bell hooks has published over thirty books and numerous scholarly and mainstream articles, appeared in several documentary films and participated in various public lectures. If you are ever asked the name of my favorite writer and social critic of all times and you don't answer "bell hooks," shame on you because she is damn near an intellectual Goddess in my eyes. 

Be Inspired,


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