FIRST THOUGHT: Diversifying Congress
Have you ever been in a crowd doing the wave? It’s always a little cheesy but also a little fun, whether you want to admit it or not. You raise your hands, your neighbors to one side follow suit, and so on. Even bees do this, creating shimmering effects. It’s weird and wild, right? The idea of the wave really gives me hope, because all it takes to create a wave effect is for someone to have an idea and the pluck to share it. If we so easily put our arms up and yell when a stranger sitting in the stadium does the same, then even the smallest passion or pursuit has the opportunity to expand. What are you going to do today that will make waves?
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 7.1 Percent
When a growing group emerges and stands united in a cause, we call it a movement. It’s one of those things you don’t realize is happening until the movement gets really big. Anyone that’s got a political pin on her lapel and goes door to door with a flyer knows that movements don’t happen in a night or even in a year; they take time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be furiously impatient in the meantime. Take, for example, the atrocious fact that only 7.1 percent of members of Congress are women of color.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Terri Broussard Williams, Founder of Movement Maker Tribe
One of our speakers at On The Dot’s See It to Be It Success Summit and today’s Woman to Watch makes movements happen as a woman of color. She’s Terri Broussard Williams, the rock star behind an inspiring blog called Movement Maker Tribe. A natural-born speaker and strategist, Terri has a commanding, yet warm, presence.
This Louisiana native has a philanthropic soul fueled by plenty of determination. Terri accomplishes exactly what she sets her mind to. One of the most powerful aspects of Terri’s vision is to guide movement makers through a real, step-by-step approach. It’s one thing to kick someone’s booty into action; it’s another to thrust hundreds, thousands, even millions to get going.
When Terri was a kid, she witnessed what movement making meant. She had heard stories about her grandparents bringing her community together to start a church. Then she saw it first hand, when her father connected their community after that very same church set ablaze, opening his home to traveling priests.
Terri remembers three specific times in her life that shaped her future as a movement maker. Firstly, on her college election night, she lost a role in student government by less than 10 votes, so she agreed to suck it up and accept a special counsel position, instead. Later, she used her connections and a lot of heart to fight her way up to a lobbyist position for the American Heart Association. And thirdly, she helped pass smoke-free workplace laws in Louisiana right after Hurricane Katrina, a time when lawmakers were convincing her it would be impossible to pass any non-hurricane legislation. She did all of this before turning 30.
You could say Terri likes things that come in threes. After all, there are three ingredients to the recipe for movement magic: philanthropy, policy and movement building. That means you’ve got to show up with good intentions, find a sponsor to get your message out there and keep the momentum going; never, ever coast.
As a woman of color in politics (AKA the arena of mostly white males), Terri encourages you to take the reigns. If Capitol Hill feels like too big a mountain to climb, start with just a few stairs, like parent-teacher organizations or chambers of commerce. Terri insists no one handed her a seat at the top; she made a place for herself.
Follow Terri on Instagram at @terribwilliams.
QUITE THE QUOTE
No matter who you are, where you come from or what you look like, we need you, girlfriend. Get out there, vote, and make your voice heard. You might just start a wave. As political entrepreneur A'shanti F. Gholar said:
"If every woman of color waited for permission, we wouldn't have any women of color in office."
Meet Terri at On The Dot’s See It To Be It Success Summit, where she’ll be speaking on a panel called “Activate to Create Change: How to Make Your Mark Through Politics and Activism” alongside former Texas politician Wendy Davis. For tickets to the event, click here!