Happy Birthday HBD

Happy first birthday, Harriet B's Daughters.

A year ago, Nicola and I sort of squinched our eyes and sent this live. After months of talking, work, research, consulting others, we knew there was a need. What I don't think either of us would have predicted in our wildest dreams was how it would take off. And, bluntly, we didn't predict the turn the cultural zeitgeist would take in 2017 and how the floodgates would open.

In a year, with no paid staff and everyone doing this on top of our day jobs, we have:

-Started up a 1:1 mentorship program, with over 70 mentorship pairs going.

-Implemented a peer-roundtable mentorship program. We've offered sessions on the museum field, theme parks, working parenthood, and allyship, with more to come.

-Developed resources for workspaces on a variety of topics, including allyship, allyship in the C-suite, building teams, dress codes and racial/gender norms, LGBTQIA issues, intersectionality, and self-evaluation and reviews

-Supported session submissions to a variety of conferences, and spoken at SATE and IAAPA. This spring and summer alone we'll be speaking at AMM (Association of Midwest Museums), TEA Summit, Creativity Means Business, and more. We've had informal gatherings at a variety of conferences, too.

In the coming year, we're looking to strengthen the 1:1 mentorship program (and also revamp it so it's not reliant on me, a giant mug of coffee, and a pile of post-it notes trying to figure out pairings!), increase our video roundtables, support local HBDers in having gatherings on their own outside of conferences, work with universities that have reached out to us, and swell the ranks of our speaker's bureau.

I would be remiss if I didn't give major props to our members for embracing us so enthusiastically and spreading the word. Special thank yous to Janelle Picard and Melody Matheny for working on the IAAPA breakfast last year, Traci Klainer, Clara Hlavac, Sarah Cole, Trent Oliver for all their hard work and wise counsel on a variety of efforts.

At AAM 2017, Ilene Frank (Chief Curator, Connecticut Historical Society) said in a panel on gender in museum leadership, that one of the best things you could do would be to 'make your kitchen cabinet'. Make that circle of women who aren't all at your institution, who aren't even all exactly the same specialty as you, who can be your sounding board. Who can tell you when someone does something awful no, you're right, that's awful, or who can peel you off the ceiling and get you to see reason. Who you can tap for advice or commiseration.

HBD's strength lies not in me and Nikky, but in the sisterhood of its members. I've watched them coach each other through interviews and reviews, requests for raises and job loss; through graduations and huge career shifts late in the game. And I am thrilled to watch our members do exactly what we had hoped at launch: to become more vocal, visible advocates in their workspaces for inclusion, diversity, equity, and access in both our work lives and our work products. I can't wait to see what the next few years bring for HBD.

So happy birthday, Harriet B's Daughters. Here's to many more.

Conference Season!

At SATE, I gave probably one of the most nerve-wracking talks of my life. Nothing gets the blood pumping like knowing you're about to step out in front of 400 colleagues, clients, former clients, people you'd like to be clients in the future, and NextGenners and tell them how we, as an industry, fall short. A few days prior, the session track chair had called me to ask about how to introduce me. At the last moment, I said, "And you can throw in there that I cofounded, with Nikky Rossini, Harriet B's Daughters, an industry group dedicated to changing the face of themed entertainment one woman at a time."

I watched nervously from the wings as the previous speaker wrapped up and Corey strode out to introduce me. When he uttered 'Harriet B's Daughters', a cheer went up in the audience – way more voices than I anticipated, scattered all over that theatre. My smile felt like it would break me in two, the nerves in my stomach stopped. I knew I had a posse out there- from across states and specialties, ages and backgrounds. I didn't think I could feel better than I did in that moment. 

Oh how I was wrong. The number of people who came up to me afterwards, and who have emailed in the ensuing days, to tell me that they're engrossed in conversations around economic, racial, gender, and ability disparity and inequity; to ask for resources; to tell me how they have now been spurred to action, it's pretty much been a tear and 'all the feels' festival here at my laptop. And I have to say- it wasn't just women. Men from all levels in the industry have approached me about allyship and steps they can take in their workplaces. This whole experience, to me, encapsulates so much of what Nikky and I hoped for with HBD: to create a network of diverse, supportive women; to help people find paths to action; to affect change through seemingly small steps.

We'll have another such opportunity at IAAPA. The HR Creates: Techniques to Address Gender Issues in the Workplace workshop is Wednesday, November 15 from 2-3:15 pm. If you are willing to help run a roundtable (you do not need to be a pro or expert- we are providing materials to roundtable moderators) where we'll give people a chance to practice techniques and tools for dealing with a variety of microaggressions, please email us at info@harrietbdaughters.org If you've never helped/participated at a conference before, this is a great opportunity to start getting some practice (and exposure). And, if you're interested in becoming more active in the industry, our speaker's bureau is starting up- send your speaker bio and headshot to the email address above. Need help with it? Drop us a line and we'll assist.


Have a great conference season, everyone!


Post AAM

Major thanks to everyone who turned out for our gathering at AAM, who cheerfully distributed cards and spread the word about Harriet B's Daughters, and seriously helped us up our game. A thousand and one thank yous.

Sitting in the Women in the Workplace session, I was besieged by emotions. Sad and angry that we still need sessions like that; thrilled and humbled to hear such honesty from leaders in the field; gratified to see white executive directors of major institutions own up to their own intersectionality failings and discuss the concrete actions they've taken as leaders to better themselves, set an example for their staff, and improve their institutional structures; eye-rolling frustration that the first anonymous question asked was 'why are there no men on your panel'; hope to see how engaged people were in the discussion. No session is perfect, and this was no exception, but I got some good things out of it:

  • The posse or a 'kitchen cabinet': all of the panelists agreed and advocated for having your 'posse', a group of women outside your institution to discuss work and work/life with- the people who can provide a reality check or sounding board, support, or info. In many ways, Harriet B's is a means of creating or expanding your posse, and it was good to hear leaders in our field stress the importance of the kind of atmosphere and peer groups we're striving to build.
  • The need to 'promote' women- that it's not enough to mentor, that we need to advocate. Recommend other women for jobs, speaking gigs, journal articles, interviews. To that end, on our slack group we've started a job board, and as previously announced we're creating a speaker's bureau. Please send your info for the speaker's bureau on in so that we can begin more actively recommending folks for panels.
  • That systemic change comes in ways big and small, from eyeballing the product in your retail to reviewing your family leave policy. We're working on a '100 things' list to bring about IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, access) change in an organization- admittedly, with a real museum slant, but some of it will be applicable to other industry verticals.

Looking ahead, we already have a team of people offering to help organize a get together at IAAPA in November (thank you!). If you are willing to help organize for ASTC or SATE in October (ASTC is in San Jose, SATE is being hosted by CalArts), please let us know.



TEA Summit

It was fantastic to meet some HBDers at the TEA Summit. I know how ridiculously busy everyone is, and I appreciate you taking the time to meet up or even just say hi.

For those of you who heard about Harriet B's Daughters at TEA, welcome! We're still pouring content into the site, and you'll find a few corners of it that are suspiciously low on info, but we're going as fast as we can. We're also in the process of our first round of mentorship matches, so if you're interest, please do go to the 'get involved' tab and fill out the form. We'll send you a link to our Slack group and to the mentorship/menteeship survey.

Looking ahead, we're setting a time to meet up at AAM- with a concrete location (meeting up at lunch today was so not happening thanks to the unexpected set up!). Similarly, we're looking ahead to both SATE and IAAPA to set up gatherings there.

I did hear again and again 'what can I do to help'. First, if you asked that, thank you, you're awesome. Second, here are some things we're looking for assistance with:

  • As more people sign up, we're hitting good #s of folks in LA and Orlando, and the numbers are getting up there in a couple of other metros. If you're willing to take point on organizing the occasional get together in your metro, drop us a line at info@harrietbdaughters.org with Event organization in the subject line.
  • We're on the prowl for resources to add to our digital bookshelf. Read or see something helpful or thought provoking? Send it our way.
  • We'll be making a conference calendar with attendee lists. If there's a conference you know you'll be attending, shoot us an email at info@harrietbdaughters.org with Conference attendance in the subject line. And, if you know you're speaking- let us know the details!
  • And, we super duper need to populate our speakers bureau. Bio and headshot. Bio's lousy? We'll help you wordsmith it. Willing to help wordsmith bios? Let us know. And, reminder, you don't have to be a well known speaker to be listed in the bureau. Everyone started somewhere.

Have a great weekend everyone- and for those of you still in Anaheim or heading to the Gala tomorrow, have a Kungaloosh for me. Or two.


It's been an interesting few weeks

When we first really started talking about HBD as a thing — as a specific thing, with parameters and goals and actual people involved, as opposed to us venting to each other and comparing notes and talking about something needing to be done — we made a giant Google doc and just started dumping ideas into it. We started reordering and massaging the ideas, and then it took form, and then Trent had about 1001 flights within 2 weeks and Nikky is in the midst of working on a tiny little project at a small place in Orlando, and I (Cyn) said to hell with it, and put verbs and stuff into our ragtag google doc, poured it into a template, flipped the light switch, and said hey. We're doing this thing.

And then the info signups started pouring in, and I went and breathed into a paper bag and freaked out. We've got a couple of things in the hopper for the next few weeks: keeping Nikky sane on install (heh), starting up a speaker's bureau info page, getting out the mentorship survey and getting the first 1:1 matches made, scheduling peer networking online roundtables/meet-ups, and getting together at the TEA Summit. Several of us have board obligations or whatnot at TEA, and as soon as those meetings are anchored we'll figure out a time and place to get together for coffee or drinks.

Thank you to everyone for being so enthusiastic. To board members in various associations who've said 'what can we do to help' and women I've looked up to from afar who've said 'what you're doing is fantastic'- and then pushed their younger colleagues to sign up. Thank you for sharing your ideas. Big thanks to bosses who've said 'this is awesome, how can we help you?' Thank you HBD early adopters for your infinite patience as we lumber into life. Thank you for participating in our slack discussion groups (and if you've signed up for HBD but haven't received a slack invite, check your spam folder and if it's not there, kick me). Most of all, thank you for welcoming us and for being so honest and open.

On behalf of the women behind the curtain herding this thing into life, thank you, we're glad you're here, and let's get rocking.