Women Are A Powerful Force: HRC Women LEAD’s Second Annual Summit

by HRC Staff

Building off of the strong history of women leaders who have paved the way for so many, HRC Women LEAD undertakes the mission of elevating the impact of all people of marginalized genders as HRC leaders, supporters and advocates.

HRC Women LEAD was strategically launched in advance of the 2018 midterms with the knowledge that when women organize, advocate and lead, everybody wins. HRC Women LEAD is an initiative focused on engaging and activating equality-minded women and people of marginalized genders in the fight for LGBTQ equality.

“We are working to help get pro-equality women elected, to build leaders in our movement and to grow a community of women who are championing equality across the country,” said HRC Women LEAD Co-Founder Cassandra Corey. “Together, we have more power to mobilize, unite for change and make justice real for all of us.”

The first national HRC Women LEAD Summit was held in advance of a pivotal election year in January 2020 in Dallas, Texas, with a group of over 100 leaders from across the country.

Women LEAD participants gathered in January 2020

A very long, tumultuous year later, the HRC Women LEAD community gathered together virtually in 2021 with an expanded audience just days before welcoming the most pro-equality White House in the nation’s history and celebrating the first woman to become vice president of the United States.

Women LEAD participants gathered virtually in 2021
History-making Delaware Sen. Sarah McBride speaks to Women LEAD participants

Chantel Mattiola, HRC Women LEAD Co-Founder explained, “When we launched Women LEAD, we envisioned spaces just like this. Hundreds of women, non-binary and genderqueer folks all gathered together in community, to organize the critical work ahead and continue to lead the Human Rights Campaign and the larger LGBTQ community towards full equality.”

The second annual summit was broken into three thematic segments: Commemorate. Reflect. Recommit.

“Commemorate.” focused on the historic wins in the 2020 electoral cycle and applauded all of the tireless efforts it took to reach that moment. We were joined by featured speaker Sen. Sarah McBride, who became the nation’s highest ranking openly transgender state legislator after winning her state senate race in Delaware.

"As I embark on this new adventure as state senator, I think about the role that HRC and the Women LEAD community continues to play in the opportunity of more and more LGBTQ people to have a seat at the table, to have an active role as voters, as volunteers, as advocates and as elected officials in our democracy,” said Sen. McBride. “And this election cycle, together, we've sent an important message to young LGBTQ kids that no matter what, our democracy is big enough for them and that their voices matter."

“Reflect.” took a moment to look back on the struggles of 2020 and the ugly underbelly of this nation that were brought to the forefront. While only a few weeks into 2021, our guest speakers, including HRC Foundation Board Chair Jodie Patterson, honed in on the profound personal and collective transformative change required to move our community and country forward.

Patterson said, “Sometimes when women untether from expectations, from cultural norms, from what others need from us, from what we think we should be, even when women untether for a bit from the world at large — we can find untapped resources that can change our lives. Women LEAD is a catalyst for untethering and by extension for change. One of my favorite conferences of the year!”

“Recommit.” focused on the work ahead for HRC in 2021, including fighting back against the onslaught of anti-transgender sports bills popping up around the nation targeting youth. Throughout the summit, attendees were joined by inspiring advocates, including members of HRC’s staff, HRC’s Parents for Transgender Equality Council members and HRC Youth Ambassadors.

Lisa Hannusch and Lisa Richardson, HRC members from Austin, Texas, reflected, “We are so proud to be a part of the HRC Women LEAD initiative. The 2020 Women LEAD Summit was an incredible opportunity to see old friends and make new ones from around the country. The three-day event in Dallas was both educational and motivational. And the 2021 Virtual Women LEAD event, although we couldn’t be together, was fabulous in ‘virtually’ keeping us up to date on HRC’s progress. The title “Commemorate. Reflect. Recommit.” did just that. We celebrated our historic election victories, learned about the roadmap to keep equality moving forward and were inspired by the youth giving us purpose and cause to continue the fight.”

Women are a powerful force and through working together, we will see a more inclusive LGBTQ equality

Lisa Hannusch and Lisa Richardson, HRC members from Austin, Texas

To learn more about HRC Women LEAD and how you can join this expanding community, contact womenlead@hrc.org.


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