making a difference. together.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi

How often do we think that we need to start our own nonprofit, run a board, or volunteer hundreds of hours to make a difference? How often do we believe you need to be privileged, advantaged, or special to make a positive change? How often do we talk ourselves out of opportunity that we forget we have the ability to do the daily, necessary, and no less valuable smaller acts that can make the world better and brighter.

From the smallest kindness towards a stranger to sharing time with a loved one; from creating a global campaign to starting an organization; all these acts matter, make a collective roar, and make a difference. Together, we can embrace our power and shake the world. 

It was a pleasure to collaborate with Behold.Her to kick off this thematic series on making a difference. The portraits radiate and what each of these ladies shared speak even more volumes.  

Many thanks to our hosts and sponsors Shopkeepers Gallery, Maketto and Republic Restoratives.

 

[Portrait 2/19] "Making a difference can be an intimidating topic and cheesy to talk about. but hey I like a challenge. :) so a little about me - faith in God and faith in humans have been a part of my life since I was a child (thanks to super religious Filipino parents haha) but if I'm honest, I've been on a spiritual journey and that has led to a lot of reflection. I think making a difference doesn't have to be necessarily big or scalable or systemized. I believe that anyone and everyone can make a difference - no matter how momentary, small or hidden it is. don't get me wrong, I think big organizations doing big things and replicable things deserve props - it's not easy to keep that soul and be effective when you grow but with this particular campaign, I want to encourage everyone that their "difference maker moment" doesn't have to be big or forever. i bet there's someone out there who only you can reach whether that's your fam, your friends, your community. women hold a special place in my heart because we're so powerful and full of complexity and beauty and potential but there's a lot around us in culture and old systems that tell us we can't, we shouldn't, or we're not enough... or even more confusing, we're too much. as women, we internalize that and convince ourselves we are not worthy or deserving of the opportunity, a good life, full freedom, love love, love. so if we're in our own heads battling the monkeys, how can we make a difference for ourselves and for others around us? i think making a difference means being connected to the universe, loving yourself and loving others. all of it. i hope this campaign and these portraits inspire more difference maker moments and that people walk away remembering that their difference doesn't have to be gargantuan but it just needs to be."

[Portrait 5/19] @insta__gann: "One of the things that we talked about today is really reflecting on what it takes to fill yourself up enough to actually do something in the world. I don't think a lot of us take time to really do that. I noticed a lot growing up and saying "I am worthy because I am doing these things..." I think that accolades become a trap for us too, because we live for that affirmation beyond what we're actually doing. It ends up being more about the trophy and I think that's not the way we should live. We should live based on the impacts that we can make. Sometimes it's just a conversation with a stranger, it's not something you can instagram. Actually, I have found lately that smiling at a stranger is helpful; it brightens my own mood. Appreciating the little things can make a difference, even more than saving the world through social good. Every single interaction is an opportunity to make a difference in somebody's life. I think we need to take the pressure off a little. Focus on what's happening in the moment with who you're interacting with on a daily basis.” 

[Portrait 5/19] @insta__gann:

"One of the things that we talked about today is really reflecting on what it takes to fill yourself up enough to actually do something in the world. I don't think a lot of us take time to really do that. I noticed a lot growing up and saying "I am worthy because I am doing these things..." I think that accolades become a trap for us too, because we live for that affirmation beyond what we're actually doing. It ends up being more about the trophy and I think that's not the way we should live. We should live based on the impacts that we can make. Sometimes it's just a conversation with a stranger, it's not something you can instagram. Actually, I have found lately that smiling at a stranger is helpful; it brightens my own mood. Appreciating the little things can make a difference, even more than saving the world through social good. Every single interaction is an opportunity to make a difference in somebody's life. I think we need to take the pressure off a little. Focus on what's happening in the moment with who you're interacting with on a daily basis.” 

[Portrait [8/19] the lovely @brittfiocca ⠀ ⠀ "I think this is really good for me. I'm very much an introvert. I definitely cherish my alone time and I'm very good at having a relationship with myself. I want to be the observer. But I think it's good for me to try and focus on being present and being a part of the conversation instead of enjoying my space on the outside [of it]. Enjoying observing, I think I struggle with being very involved and being a part of the conversation. I have an Art History background so I'm an observer to my core I guess. I think even if I lack the confidence it's important to butt into the conversation. I think with my job I talk so often to people that when I have my down time I want to be alone and it's seeing that as a joy and not just a task."

[Portrait [8/19] the lovely @brittfiocca ⠀

"I think this is really good for me. I'm very much an introvert. I definitely cherish my alone time and I'm very good at having a relationship with myself. I want to be the observer. But I think it's good for me to try and focus on being present and being a part of the conversation instead of enjoying my space on the outside [of it]. Enjoying observing, I think I struggle with being very involved and being a part of the conversation. I have an Art History background so I'm an observer to my core I guess. I think even if I lack the confidence it's important to butt into the conversation. I think with my job I talk so often to people that when I have my down time I want to be alone and it's seeing that as a joy and not just a task."

|Portrait [11/19]| @coleen_orealy |"I volunteer with teenagers. That's my side gig; I don't get paid to do it, it's just something that I always felt like I was made to do. I think we are totally accountable to the generation that's coming under us and it's really important to take time to take care of ourselves. I remember being a teenager and walking down the street and these women who were dressed in their power suits and looked put together. Their lives seemed totally figured out and girls look at us and see that. They see the way we carry ourselves walking on the street when you think nobody's watching, but they are. The girls that I work with are awesome but they also go through a lot of stuff and I know that I'm making a difference just by talking and listening to them...watching them grow up in this crazy world...so when I think of making a difference that's what comes to mind." 

|Portrait [11/19]| @coleen_orealy |"I volunteer with teenagers. That's my side gig; I don't get paid to do it, it's just something that I always felt like I was made to do. I think we are totally accountable to the generation that's coming under us and it's really important to take time to take care of ourselves. I remember being a teenager and walking down the street and these women who were dressed in their power suits and looked put together. Their lives seemed totally figured out and girls look at us and see that. They see the way we carry ourselves walking on the street when you think nobody's watching, but they are. The girls that I work with are awesome but they also go through a lot of stuff and I know that I'm making a difference just by talking and listening to them...watching them grow up in this crazy world...so when I think of making a difference that's what comes to mind." 

[Portrait 3/19] @shopkeepersgallery @snakalack "I spent all of my 20's trying to be as socially and politically active in Cambodia, I even followed Obama when he visited in 2012 in an effort to raise awareness on the elections and land evictions. After a lot of different stints with different domestic and international organizations, I realized I needed a platform to make a difference beyond just being passionate. When you focus on building your own foundation, you discover a new way to present your message that could be more effective and genuine." Ladies, you're more than just a face. There is a story behind each woman that stands in front of this camera. You could be one of them.

Portrait [6/19] @crocodilehuntr: "I am struggling right now with being uncomfortable with things, along with feelings that come up in my life. I just struggle with it, but I'm trying to work on being more gentle with myself. None of us like being uncomfortable but all of us feel like that at some point in life. It's normal. Being gentle with yourself can be hard and I don't feel like it's something I'm used to, but what's important is that I am trying to learn."

Portrait [6/19] @crocodilehuntr:

"I am struggling right now with being uncomfortable with things, along with feelings that come up in my life. I just struggle with it, but I'm trying to work on being more gentle with myself. None of us like being uncomfortable but all of us feel like that at some point in life. It's normal. Being gentle with yourself can be hard and I don't feel like it's something I'm used to, but what's important is that I am trying to learn."

 |Portrait [9/19]| @juliaccarpenter "In our conversation what I recognized is that I still don't know who I am. I knew this before, but what I can do to make a difference is tuning into that and just taking control of that process, whether it's introspection or taking some alone time. I need to recognize what I want to do and less of what's expected of me."

 |Portrait [9/19]| @juliaccarpenter "In our conversation what I recognized is that I still don't know who I am. I knew this before, but what I can do to make a difference is tuning into that and just taking control of that process, whether it's introspection or taking some alone time. I need to recognize what I want to do and less of what's expected of me."

|Portrait [12/19]| Susannah of @florescentperfume | "I've spent a lot of the evening listening. I realized as I get older I've become more of a listener and less of a talker from what I used to be when I was younger. I think being a listener suits me. I feel like it can be a service to pay it forward to others to be there to listen. It's also something I'm trying to do for myself, and it's really difficult to do. Making time to turn inward and hear your own thoughts and voice and heart, that's something I'm finding incredibly important and valuable and try to make time for.” ⠀

|Portrait [12/19]| Susannah of @florescentperfume | "I've spent a lot of the evening listening. I realized as I get older I've become more of a listener and less of a talker from what I used to be when I was younger. I think being a listener suits me. I feel like it can be a service to pay it forward to others to be there to listen. It's also something I'm trying to do for myself, and it's really difficult to do. Making time to turn inward and hear your own thoughts and voice and heart, that's something I'm finding incredibly important and valuable and try to make time for.” ⠀

Portrait [4/19| Katie Stockram @stock.up, events director @republicrestoratives: "I've spent a lot of the last year trying to discover who I am through my ever-changing conception of "strength". I used to think this word meant the absence of weakness, but I find now - through not only looking inward but surrounding myself with powerful, inspirational women outwardly - that strength is actually the acknowledgment of that weakness... and the humility to ask for the support and collaboration to combat it. I drew strength from the women around the table tonight, and I will carry that with me in all the weaknesses to come."

Portrait [4/19| Katie Stockram @stock.up, events director @republicrestoratives:

"I've spent a lot of the last year trying to discover who I am through my ever-changing conception of "strength". I used to think this word meant the absence of weakness, but I find now - through not only looking inward but surrounding myself with powerful, inspirational women outwardly - that strength is actually the acknowledgment of that weakness... and the humility to ask for the support and collaboration to combat it. I drew strength from the women around the table tonight, and I will carry that with me in all the weaknesses to come."

|Portrait [7/19] @paiyal  "I think that diversity is so important. I want to be an inclusive person. I love to immerse myself in different cultures and people from different walks of life. What I appreciated about tonight is that everyone comes from something different and we're essentially here to share the same things but from different perspectives. I think that's really powerful. I believe that's the driving force of creating change. Whether that's in yourself, your community, or relationships, it doesn't matter; we will all take away different things and take that to our own spaces. I think it's beautiful that a group of women have this candid and organic conversation that will translate into something bigger. I appreciate that we're all willing to express ourselves and authentically say our opinion. I appreciate that there was a safe space created because I think that's hard. I think it's important to be a part of things like this."

|Portrait [7/19] @paiyal 

"I think that diversity is so important. I want to be an inclusive person. I love to immerse myself in different cultures and people from different walks of life. What I appreciated about tonight is that everyone comes from something different and we're essentially here to share the same things but from different perspectives. I think that's really powerful. I believe that's the driving force of creating change. Whether that's in yourself, your community, or relationships, it doesn't matter; we will all take away different things and take that to our own spaces. I think it's beautiful that a group of women have this candid and organic conversation that will translate into something bigger. I appreciate that we're all willing to express ourselves and authentically say our opinion. I appreciate that there was a safe space created because I think that's hard. I think it's important to be a part of things like this."

[Portrait 10/19]  @carolyn.misterek / @matinestudio  "The big take away - the theme that keeps coming up over and over and over again, given that we're a group of women, no one is taking care of themselves first. I've mentioned that the airline metaphor of putting your own air mask on first, but wow, we all just give and give and give and don't even realize a) what we are already doing to make a difference and b) having to take care of yourself first. Every single person keeps coming back to the same idea of "OH I need to take care of me" and I think when we do that, that will help us move forward with really making a difference."

[Portrait 10/19] 

@carolyn.misterek / @matinestudio 

"The big take away - the theme that keeps coming up over and over and over again, given that we're a group of women, no one is taking care of themselves first. I've mentioned that the airline metaphor of putting your own air mask on first, but wow, we all just give and give and give and don't even realize a) what we are already doing to make a difference and b) having to take care of yourself first. Every single person keeps coming back to the same idea of "OH I need to take care of me" and I think when we do that, that will help us move forward with really making a difference."

|Portrait [13/19] | Badass barber and hairstylist @rosathebarber "I hope that I made a difference just tonight and touched someone's life... that was the goal because I feel like we all need that little push here and there and the support more than anything. I think what's really important is to become a better person by being self-aware and resonating with others who are going through a tough time they see that she can get through it.”

|Portrait [13/19] | Badass barber and hairstylist @rosathebarber "I hope that I made a difference just tonight and touched someone's life... that was the goal because I feel like we all need that little push here and there and the support more than anything. I think what's really important is to become a better person by being self-aware and resonating with others who are going through a tough time they see that she can get through it.”


in-depth portrait features

we selected four local DC women that represent different industries and perspectives on how they approach and make a difference in their work and lives. 

 
Dana Jeri Maier
 

Dana Maier is a DC local artist and cartoonist. Our guest speaker at our collaboration event with Behold.Her,  @danajerimaier's cartoons illustrate the effects of modern life on one's psyche. From comic books, murals, installations to an ongoing cartoon series, her work includes over 400 drawings and continues to grow. ⠀

Humor has a unique ability to diffuse, unmask, bring levity, boost health and connect others. Sometimes satirical, witty and philosophical, her use of humor turns an understanding yet questioning lens inward and brings these interior conversations to the surface, helping us realize we are all in good company.⠀

Dana is wearing the Milk & Coffee Agate pendant necklace.

 

Jenny Ottenhoff is the Global Health Policy Director at @onecampaign and is leading the policy arm of ONE's | Poverty is Sexist | campaign. Currently there are 130 million girls globally who are not in school. For @jottenhoff this campaign hits home personally.⠀

"I wouldn't be where I am without a great education. While more funding and better policies are needed to get girls in school, there is a limit to how much that alone can do to solve the problem. We also need a global shift in culture, where everyone respects and values the critical role women and girls have in lifting communities out of poverty. Men have a role in gender equality as much as women do. We need more men to step up and call themselves feminists. Everyone stands to gain by equality..." ⠀

Check out @onecampaign, sign the open letter, claim a number and add your voice. Let's get these girls in schools. 

Jenny wears the Aurora Labradorite and Kin necklaces.

Jenny Ottenhoff
 
Aerica Banks

Aerica Shimizu Banks is a founding board member of The Beacon DC, a recently launched initiative by Google, Georgetown's Law Tech Policy Institute and DC government. In a culmination of many conversations around themes of female entrepreneurship and disparities in resources and inclusion, Beacon was born. @erikashimizu calls its founding ✨"kismet."⠀

A multi-pronged approach that brings together community, mentorship & resources, grants, and access to capital, Beacon seeks to make DC a model for female entrepreneurship by bridging the gaps in resources and inclusion for businesses owned by women and especially businesses owned by women of color. ⠀

"We wanted to create something that was truly about inclusion and representation...Gender and economics are areas that make sense for us to focus because that is where the divides are the greatest...this is for women by women." ⠀

Check out @thebeacondc, join the directory if you're a lady-owned business, submit your events on the community calendar and stay tuned for the grant program rolling out in early summer. ⠀

Aerica wears the Aegis Earrings and Luna Necklace.

 

While Audrey Singer's job involves hours of serious research on immigration and refugee resettlement in the U.S., she loves a good laugh whether that's slapstick comedy or unexpected deadpan delivery. ⠀

A senior fellow with The Brookings Institution and now Urban Institute, @audsinger believes evidence-based research should play an important role in how policy is made. "My work involves a lot of quantitative research and it is ground-truthed by meeting people - the actual humans behind all of this. I am deeply interested in the human condition. It is a crisp argument to some who say that immigrants are drains on the system but it really is so much more complex. What gets lost is that immigrants should be seen as contributors to our society, economy and culture over their lifetimes, over generations. Immigration is an investment that pays off in the long run." ⠀

Remember ladies, we want to hear from you. Tag a lady in your life who you think would benefit and/or needs to be part of our next Behold.Her event. One more seat to giveaway! ⠀

Audrey wears the Jot Leather necklace in Clay.