GenderAvenger Behind the Scenes: Who Powers Our Mission
If you are reading this, you probably already know something about me. After all, all the GenderAvenger newsletters come from me and, I say with some immodest pride, a lot is written about me or by me.
I founded GenderAvenger along with my wonderful friend, Susan Askew, who remains on the board and has gone on to create an amazing resource for those who live in her new hometown, RE Miami Beach. Even if you don’t live there, it is fascinating to learn about how a city by the water is dealing with today’s environmental and commercial issues. Marta Rosa, the original member of GenderAvenger Massachusetts and Founder and President of MTR Consulting — she specializes in diversity, inclusion, community engagement, and more — rounds out the board.
In addition to the GenderAvenger board, you should know about the real powers behind GenderAvenger: the team you don’t see that makes what you do see so important, entertaining, and productive. Here is a bit about each of them and all that they do.
The very first person I hired was Elan Morgan. GenderAvenger originally operated from Launchrock* with about 200 of my friends and acquaintances to help set the stage. In 2014, it was time to go public with our website and new 501(c)3 status. Elan designed the original website and guided its entry onto the internet. Since then, they have become an integral part of the strategy development, tool creation, and branding, including redesigns and consistent improvement of the website and more. Note the preferred pronoun “they”. Elan has taught me so much about gender identification. They pressed consistently for inclusion of non-binary individuals in the GA Tally, and when I, after too long, said yes and we figured out how to handle it, they were excited enough to make a GA Tally representing our team.
GenderAvenger was just a newsletter and a website until Matt Stempeck joined me for a hike on Angel Island and made the case for what later became the GA Tally. He had friends, Yonatan Kogan and Nate Matias, who were willing to build the app together pro bono around their full-time jobs. Nate, by the way, did his part while planning his wedding just prior to the GA Tally launch! We will all admit that its first iteration was an amazing new tool, but it wasn’t all that stable code-wise, so it was time to find someone whose full-time profession matched our needs and who could upgrade the GA Tally. Meet our man on the team, Dan Schultz. Dan lives in a household of three who keep him honest, wife Lyla and daughters Ida and Emmeline. A lot more than our app developer, Dan has also become an integral part of our strategic planning. He worked with designer, Maddie Dai, and Men Are Talking Too Much creator, Cathy Deng, on improvements to the GA Tally. Today, the GA Tally is sooo much more inclusive, user-friendly and informative than it could be back in 2014.
For almost two years, Elan, Susan, and I spent many a night, sometimes into the wee hours, editing and designing the early Action Alerts until at one point we all seemed to shout out “help, we need help!” Along came two terrific Directors of Communication, Claire Moshenberg (2015/16) and Soraya Membreño (2016/17), who brought their special voices and experiences to create some of our best newsletters.
As our subscribers increased and social media attention grew during year three, it became clear that we needed not only a bigger team but also one with deeper expertise to take advantage of the force we were becoming. I turned to the famed introvert with the best ideas to build extraordinary social awareness, Morra Aarons-Mele, who, originally introduced me to Elan, by the way. Morra founded Women Online, a boutique strategic communications firm with a distinct digital lens. Morra put together the team that now guides our social media and oversees our content.
Jen Vento, Women Online’s Managing Director, does pretty much everything and is always available with insight, ideas, and emergency call-ups to fix whatever needs to be fixed. She also went with me to CES in Las Vegas in 2017 and convinced me to create my first ever Facebook Live. Kris-Ann Race is known as our “master counter”, because she takes on the often daunting task of counting speakers and interpreting the counts for our Action Alerts. Jen Lee Reeves has collaborated with Women Online through the spring and summer to take GenderAvenger’s social media presence to the next level of engagement (and snark!). I am excited to announce that the Women Online team will now include Amber Coleman-Mortley, famous as @momofallcapes, who will work on our social media engagement going forward. After I double booked myself a few months ago and spent hours upon hours formatting a proposal — I've been getting more invites these days — I succumbed and hired an assistant. After three weeks with Candace DeLeon, I am a newly organized and more productive leader… not to mention she is figuring out how we can sell t-shirts. Someday, Candace will write a Broadway drama about this, but, in the meantime, everyone on the team is happy to have her around to keep me calm.
Finally, let’s be honest, without outside resources beyond the depletion of the Glantz children’s inheritance, GenderAvenger could not grow, so it's time to give a shout out to Mellody Hobson. She helped get GenderAvenger started with a significant donation when all I had was an idea and a website template. Shout outs also go to Cecilia and Garrett Boone, Kaleta Doolin, Susan Askew, Ethel Klein, and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, who have made substantial gifts year after year.
We at GenderAvenger think of all of you as our team.
We at GenderAvenger think of all of you — everyone who subscribes, donates, uses our #hashtag, and refuses to be on panels where there are no women — as our team. Together we do the hard and satisfying work of GenderAvenger in our quest to ensure that women are always part of the public dialog… because women’s voices count.
* Note: GenderAvenger really happened because after talking about it for almost two years, Nicco Mele said it was time to “do it”. When staying at our home after a book party we held for his The End of Big, he came to breakfast with GenderAvenger launched on Launchrock. Without that boost, there might not be this story to be told.