ICYMI: Women Activists Today: How to Build a Sustainable Movement

In case you missed it, yesterday, October 2nd, the Women Activists Today panel, moderated by the Women’s Center’s Robin Wonsley, took place. It was a unique opportunity for both participants and audience members as it gave everyone the opportunity to really think about what engagement in a movement means, as well as how to create sustainable change.


From left to right: Latasha Gandy, Tish Jones, Robin Wonsley, Sarah Walker, Nancy Mahdy.

The panelists included Latasha Gandy, Minnesota Managing Director at Students for Education Reform; Tish Jones, Founder, Executive and Artistic Director of TruArtSpeaks; Nancy Mahdy, President of the Multicultural Greek Council at the University of Minnesota; and Sarah Walker, Founder, Minnesota Second Chance Coalition.

Topics that were brought up to the panelists included, what a movement means to them, how to sustain themselves and their work, how to help others sustain and manage their work, the kinds of institutional and structural barriers that are faced in the work that they do, how to engage people who aren’t buying in, how to create long-term/institutional change, gender-related challenges, and the role of media.

The answers and thought given by the panelists were very inspired and gave the audience a feel for how passionate they are about the work they’re doing. To recap some of the points that were made, here are some of the panelists’ responses:

Nancy Mahdy described a movement as “a lot of people coming together and bringing change to issues that don’t get a lot of attention.”

When talking about winning and success Latasha Gandy said, “when it comes to victory – be realistic, understand there are different levels of winning.”

While speaking about institutional/structural barriers, Tish Jones spoke about language and the importance of code-switching and “[equipping] people with language to talk about their work so a business person or scholar will accept it.”

Latasha also stated the importance of “developing college students to go on to create change wherever they go next” as a way to create long-term/institutional change.

In regard to gender-related challenges, Sarah Walker mentioned, “the legislature is backwards on gender equity in the workplace.” There was also the notion of breaking away from generalizations; Nancy Mahdy stated “people sometimes see me as a ‘sorority girl’ stereotype.”

When asked about the importance of media in the success of work, Latasha pointed to the fact that “media attention gets you funding, and energizes your students.”

To view the live tweets from this event, visit the Women’s Center’s Twitter page @mnwomenscenter or search for the hashtag #GreaterThan7.

This event was a part of the Greater Than 7: Courageous Conversations About Equity and Diversity that took place this week. This conversation about women activism just scratches the surface of what women in society today face. It is also a step in the right direction by engaging and inspiring others about the work and ideas of these incredible women from our own University and the Twin Cities community.


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