Meet a Matriot: Mandy Jennings

1. You initially learned about The Matriots at a fall house party. Can you share why you think The Matriots’ vision for more women in elected office is something you support?  The “ME TOO” movement in recent years really opened my eyes to the entrenched cultural and professional restrictions women are still facing.  Thinking I was in the modern age and not under the same prejudices as our mothers, I didn’t realize how much further women had to go to obtain equality in social standing and in politics, particularly.  Hearing how less than half of our state is represented by women, I was moved to join the group to help get more of us in office.  Women are affected by so many of the decisions made in government, we need to have a voice to talk about issues unique to us and those issues that would benefit from our diverse perspectives.  It is important for us to get involved and support each other

2. You are a historian by training and profession. Are there stories you’ve researched that amplify for you the mission of The Matriots? I was always inspired by the history of Anne Hutchinson.  Before the women’s liberation movement of 1973 and the larger women’s suffrage movement of 1840-1920s – there were the early reformers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the 1630s.  Anne Hutchinson was a Puritan who practiced church meetings in her home with other women.  She believed a personal connection with God could be attained by all and that anyone had the ability to go to heaven, regardless of your gender or position in society.  These ideas were against the ideals of the Puritans, so she was placed under arrest for heresy and sedition. She was excommunicated from the church and she fled to Providence, Rhode Island – a place of refuge for people of other religions and beliefs different from the Puritan worldview.

As a student learning about Hutchinson, I keyed in on one of the main problems the Puritans had with her – that she organized meetings with other women to share in worship and discourse over their own spirituality.  It frightened me to think that there was once a day when women could not meet and share their own thoughts.  Anne risked her life every time she called a meeting of women together.

Now – here we are – The Matriots – a group of women who can gather together and have the freedom to share ideas and express personal opinions and thoughts.  We are continuing a legacy that women like Anne Hutchinson set into motion for us. Let’s respect the past and continue moving forward to release the restrictions that still hold us bound to old stereotypes and years of social conditioning.

3. Tell us about your community-building activities in Zanesville. We understand you’ve recently been working to revitalize your historic community. I was elected the Vice-President of a newly founded community group called the Friends of Putnam.  Putnam refers to the oldest historic district in Zanesville, Ohio.  The area has been ravaged by poverty, homelessness and now the opioid crisis has hit the town extremely hard.  We understand that there are many solutions we have to take in combating the complicated issues of our neighborhood.  One solution we are trying is the economic revitalization of the area so we can bring in new local businesses and promote job growth.  At the same time, we are starting street and home beautification projects to show our citizens that we care about our community and want to make it better.  Appalachian towns are hit hard with high poverty levels, low high school graduation rates, and a lack of jobs for educated individuals. I realize it will take time and it will take work on all fronts.  I don’t want to find a quick fix – I want to combat the problem at its root.  The first step we are taking is to build pride in our community and create jobs for our people.  

4. Before you took up a volunteer role as community-builder, did you look to mentors or were any particular women in office an inspiration? When I decided to do something about helping my community, my first thought was to reach out to an historic preservationist I met when I was fresh from college – Nancy Recchie. I met Nancy when I was at my first job at Wayne National Forest as an archaeologist. She was working on historic revitalization projects in collaboration with the Forest Service.   She made an impression on me when I was young.  She had a positivity, energy and vision that was inspiring.  Now, years later, the memory of her came to me when I thought about how I was going to start rebuilding my little historic neighborhood. I met back up with her recently to ask for her mentorship.  Her devotion to helping other women move up and forward is much appreciated and admired.

5. Now for something fun: You live in Zanesville and work in Columbus. Tell us how you spend that time on the road each day. My commute time can be anywhere from 50 – 90 minutes.  During that time, I listen to 1980s pop music on satellite radio.  The music makes me happy because it reminds me of my relationship with my sister.  My sister was 10 years older than me, so when I was a little girl in the early 1980s, she was going through her teen years and exposed me to all the pop culture of the time.  I idolized my sister and followed her around everywhere. The music gives me fond memories of her and our time together.

Meet The Matriots All-In Members

In the July edition of The Hive, Sally Crane Cox introduced us to Kitty & Dick Rosenthal of Cincinnati.  Kitty & Dick were our first members to max out on The Matriots. Ohio law sets a defined maximum annual gift that a PAC can accept from a single donor at $13,292.35.

The Rosenthals didn’t just say yes to go all in for a single year, they said “we want to do this for the Matriots for three years in a row!”

And in this month’s Hive, we introduce you to the NEXT two Ohio families making the same commitment: Sally Crane Cox & Cary Cox and Carol Andreae & Jim Garland.

Sally and Carol were both founders of the Women’s Fund of Central Ohio almost two decades ago. Sally is among the six women who returned from the Women’s March in 2017 ready to take action – action that eventually became The Matriots PAC!

Carol & Jim on a recent trip to Egypt
Cary & Sally with son Cameron and daughter-in-law Agathe

“After engaging for a time in the process of promoting women’s political leadership through The Matriots PAC, it became clear that achieving gender equity was not going to be a short-term goal,” Sally said. “It will take dollars and diligence to develop a deep bench of qualified candidates who share our values and can run viable campaigns.”

For Carol, this investment is the next iteration of work to put more women at all kinds of tables of power.

“With women in leadership roles, different issues get attention – childcare, infant and maternal mortality, early childhood education, for example, issues which affect the whole community, but are often relegated to being ‘women’s issues’ and less worthy of attention,” Carol said. “From my experiences with other women’s organizations, I’ve learned that women often have the solutions to community problems, but don’t have the resources, nor the influence to implement them. Historically, when there is investment in women, the community prospers.”

That’s exactly what The Matriots are working to do: elect more Ohio women to public office who will promote a healthy economy in which women can thrive and prosper.

“Early on, we were struck by the fact that the Matriots’ candidates appeared to be motivated to run for office not to seek power or stature, but to advance policies that positively impact women and their families,” Sally said.

“Obviously, the realization of the need to elect more women has been a powerful motivator for many people, men as well as women,” Carol said. “The success of the Matriots in its few years of existence has been incredible. With more support available for the candidates, more women have been willing to step up and run for office.”

And we’re proud our members are women AND men, Ohio residents AND those out of state, and importantly people of ALL political stripes. Speaking on behalf of Cary and herself, Sally said, “We think it is really inspiring the number of women and men who identify as cultural conservatives who have joined the Matriots PAC and who recognize that the Matriots’ mission of promoting women’s economic independence benefits society as a whole. In order to be successful in our goal of equal-gender representation, we will need support across the ideological spectrum. And at this time of extreme partisan divide, a focus on making our democracy truly representative, and of choosing shared values over partisan labels, is not only brave but smart.”

The Matriots doesn’t intend to let these three families stand alone on our list of All In contributors. The sustainability of this organization – our ability to invest in female candidates in the future; and ESPECIALLY in next year’s critical 2020 races – relies on gifts that guarantee our financial viability.

As Carol recently told a blogger for the Women’s Funding network: “I would say to any donor: by letting it be known that you are giving money to support an issue – whether it’s $100 or $1,000,000- you are taking a stand and saying this issue is important and you are making a difference.”

Take that thought into your holiday. Think about what female leadership means to you; and whether this is a cause for which you want to stretch. Join us. Tell a friend. Increase your gift. This is how we build the war chest for 2020 and beyond.

Meet a Matriot: Cathe Kobacker

Cathe Kobacker is a woman of many titles. She is one of the original founding marchers who returned from the 2017 Women’s March with an idea that more women in elected office could be the solution to our country’s political stalemate. She is one of The Matriots most loyal supporters, a Matriarch, and a member our our Research Committee. She is a community activist who helped found The Women’s Fund of Central Ohio, served on the board of the YWCA,  and has dedicated over 30 years of her life to advocating for end of life care. In 2004 in Cathe was recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement for her many years of community service.  Cathe is an amazing woman, Matriot and member of the Columbus community – we are proud to count her among our hive!

Cathe, you are one of The Matriots PAC original founding marchers. You traveled to Washington D.C. for the Women’s March in 2017 and returned with the inspiration to create The Matriots PAC. Can you share with our members why you think The Matriots’ vision for more women in elected office is the solution to today’s political rancor?

When we returned from the Washington March the founding marchers sat down and consensus was that marching was not enough. The amazing thing is that I was struck by the wide range of ideas that were given a hearing. The path was made clear after by much research and interviews with Trail Blazers.

The idea that we could sit with a group of strong-willed women with diverse points of view and come up with the PAC idea is a perfect example of why we need more women  in political office. Thanks to the PAC and Sally Crane Cox’s coming up with the name The Matriots I know we are doing something important. Keep in mind we are 51% of the population and have 21% of the political representation in Ohio.

In 2004 you were recognized as a YWCA Woman of Achievement for your many years of community service and activism. What is your advice to women hoping to make difference in their communities?

Believe in what you are doing and gather interested people around you. There is a lot of talk about passion these days and I think of it more like what my Mother used to call “stick to it ness”. Recognize what you are good at and find people who have skills you do not. I got important training from my fellow board members of the YWCA. Hospice volunteering and the Harmony Project Tapestry  choir at the Ohio Reformatory  for Women have taught me that there are important and satisfying lessons in all volunteer work.

You’ve invested more than three decades in community hospice efforts, a passion that took you around the world to study best practices and culminated in a TED Talk in 2016. Can you tell our members what you learned on your journey and how you found this passion for hospice and palliative care?

Forty years ago a close family friend was dying of a brain tumor. There was no hospice care in her community so a “we group “ formed to support her family.

When I returned to Columbus I found we had a hospice program in Columbus and I signed up as a volunteer. Supporting Good, wholistic end of life care has become a driving force in my life. I also have worked to change vocabulary so that people living with a life limiting illness are not required to use battle metaphors unless they themselves choose those terms.

The Matriots endorsed 34 women in 2018 and 9 women in the May primary election. Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspires you and why?

How to pick? What impressed me about the candidates was the diversity of training and experience they brought to their races. The experience of doing research on these women made it clear to me that we are on the right path to have more women in all levels of Ohio politics.

Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state!

One of my favorite hobbies is watching equine competitions. Two young women I have known most of their lives compete at national and international levels in different disciplines. They are cousins and both are from Columbus, Ohio (Ellie O’Neal and Ali Wolff) they make me proud every time I watch them.

My other is walking half-marathons. I have walked eight 1/2 Columbus Marathons. Nothing like thirteen miles on a cold October day..come join me.

Meet The Matriots: Emily & Kate Law

Emily and Kate Law are a captivating pair of Matriots members. Hailing from Cincinnati, Emily (left) and Kate (right), are a mother daughter duo working hard to help The Matriots elect more women to public office in Ohio. Beyond their financial investment in The Matriots PAC, the duo recently hosted a House Party to connect us with their friends and family to raise money to help female candidates.  

Emily & Kate, you are both members of The Matriots PAC. How did you learn about The Matriots and what drew you to our work?

Emily: Last year I happened to sit down next to Helen Fite, Communications and Political Relationship Manager for The Matriots, at a Columbus Young Professional’s Coffee with a Cause on women empowerment. We each asked the inevitable question “What do you do?” She told me all about The Matriots and I was absolutely blown away by the story and mission of the organization.

I was drawn to The Matriots because women are severely underrepresented in elected office in Ohio. I appreciate that The Matriots is a nonpartisan organization focused exclusively on getting Ohio women into office. The specificity of The Matriots’ mission allows them to make a significant impact changing the landscape of politics.

Kate:  I learned about The Matriots from Emily! Since her high school days, she has had her ear to the ground on politics. Her Ohio State undergraduate political science degree was a perfect fit for her instincts. I knew to trust her judgement on finding The Matriots as a group to support

Emily, you are young professional pursuing you master’s in public administration. Why do you think that it is important for younger people to invest in the political process?

Elections matter and the excuses that “you are not political” or “one vote doesn’t matter” can no longer fly. We’ve seen the power elections have in shaping policy on the local, state and federal levels. While voting is critical step, I would like to see more of the Millennial Generation and Gen Z engage in the political process by canvassing for an issue or candidate, donating or even running for office one day. By investing in the political process, young people can ensure that their voice is heard.

Kate, you and Emily graciously hosted a House Party in April. You helped connect us to your network of family and friends and in the Cincinnati area. Can you share with our members about your experiences hosting a Matriots event?

Hosting a party was an easy yes when Emily approached me with the idea. I was in full support of helping The Matriots expand their reach into the Cincinnati area. Since the 2016 election results, I have personally felt an increased urge to get involved with elections and have many friends who feel the same way. We hosted a small group ranging in age from 22 to 86. It was a great way to learn more in a comfortable setting.

Emily, The Matriots endorsed 34 women in 2018 and 9 running in May primary elections in 2019. Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspires you and why?

Ra’Cole Taltoan is current Class of 2019 Endorsed Candidate running for Youngstown City Council. What impressed me about Ra’Cole was her life-long commitment to public service. Ra’Cole not only attended board of elections meetings and resident’s councils in her community, but also served as an AmeriCorps Vista member. She is a fantastic example of the many opportunities women have to engage in the political process.

Now for something fun: Tell us about your favorite thing to do together in the great state of Ohio. It could be a hobby, a favorite place to eat or something we might not know about our state!

Kate:  Emily and I have spent many hours combing through all that Columbus has to offer including the Columbus Metro Park hiking trails with her black lab Luna, The Columbus Museum of Art, the Short North shops and restaurants, The Franklin Park Conservatory and more!

Meet a Matriot: Valerie Lemmie Thomas

Valerie is a Founding Member Class of 2018 and a member of The Matriots board of directors. Valerie is a brilliant strategic thinker with extensive experience in public policy. She is from the Dayton area and currently serves as the director of exploratory research at the Kettering Foundation.

Before serving at the Kettering Foundation, Valerie served as city manager for the cities of Petersburg, Virginia as well as Dayton and Cincinnati, Ohio.  Additionally she was a commissioner on the Public Utility Commission of Ohio and the acting chief of staff for Congressman Turner, of Ohio’s 10th district. She has served on several boards, including the House of Representatives Committee on Urban Redevelopment and President Clinton’s Greenhouse Gas Advisory Committee. We are so fortunate to have Valerie as a member and leader of The Matriots PAC!

You are a member of The Matriots board of directors, and serve on several committees, what drew you to our work?

As a career public administrator, my goal was to ensure the organizations I managed were efficient, effective, and economical, the values recognized in the profession as the pillars of good government.   As one of the first African Americans and women to serve as city manager, I represented the importance women and people of color brought to the governance process.  When I learned about The Matriots and their core belief in the need for more political leadership and participation by women, it resonated with my personal and professional experiences and career.  Additionally, professional standards dictate that city managers are nonpartisan, so joining The Matriots has provided me an opportunity to use my knowledge and understanding of local and state government to help encourage and support women who stand for public office.   Through our collective power, The Matriots help ensure the interest of women and families will be central to public policies enacted by elected bodies in our state, strengthening our communities and enhancing the quality of life for all.

You served as the city manager for both Cincinnati and Dayton, can you share with our members what accomplishments from your time in office that you are most proud of?

As a city manager, I aspired to achieve the ideals articulated in the Oath of the Athenian City-State to “…transmit this City not only, not less, but greater and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”  I wanted to make a profound difference in the quality of life of those who lived and worked in the cities I managed, and most importantly, to change the order of things so that those who’d been traditionally disenfranchised had a voice and recognized their power to act as democratic citizens.

Building bridges across political, gender and economic divides; finding pathways to success for those who’d been previously marginalized; and promoting women and people of color to key management and leadership positions in local government are some of the relational accomplishments of which I’m most proud.

On an operational level, I’m most proud in Dayton of the (1) redevelopment we began in the downtown of housing and amenities, including, with the approval of the Cincinnati Reds and Major League Baseball, bringing major league baseball to town —the Dayton Dragons have been sold out for the past twenty years and continue to be a major attraction, catalyzing restaurants, housing and other amenities; (2) in a collaborative partnership with Montgomery County and Five Rivers Metro parks, the redevelopment of the riverfront to what is now RiverScape; (3) the construction of a performing arts center in collaboration with many public and private stakeholders; (3) building and renovation of the first market-rate housing in the inner city of Dayton for generations;  (4) partnership with Miami Valley Hospital and the University of Dayton that resulted in the redevelopment of the previously disinvested neighborhood anchored by these two institutions, to create new housing opportunities for residents and students and a new small business corridor; (5) development of an innovative program, in collaboration with Sinclair Junior College, to train minorities and women for positions in the city’s public safety forces (unfortunately, not sustained) and (6) the creation of innovative development financing tools, including the port authority.

In Cincinnati, it was (1) the successful implementation of the Collaborative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to change police practices, policies and procedures in response to allegations of racial profiling and the use of force against people of color; (2) creation of a development financing authority to lead and finance redevelopment in the downtown and Over- the-Rhine, the Cincinnati Center City Development Corporation (3CDC); (3) related partnerships with other institutional partners including the University of Cincinnati; (4) retaining key headquarter companies in the downtown; and (5) supporting and financing neighborhood redevelopment.

You were also appointed commissioner by Governor Taft and Governor Strickland to the Public Utilities Commission. Can you share with our members what your role was and why the commission’s work is important?

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) is important because it affects every household in Ohio through its regulation of utility service providers, including electric and natural gas companies, local and long distance telephone companies, water and wastewater companies, rail and trucking companies.  As commissioner, you approve the rates utilities can charge end users, help ensure utility system reliability and the incorporation of renewal energy resources into the energy mix.  During my term as commissioner, we implemented the competitive retail markets for electricity and natural gas.  I also served as president of the Organization of MISO States, a regional state compact that was established to represent the collective interests of states and local utility regulators with the operator of the bulk wholesale power transmission system operator.

Now you are the director of exploratory research at the Kettering Foundation, a nonprofit foundation conducting research focused on what people can collectively do to address problems affecting their lives, their communities and their nation. Kettering’s primary research question is: what does it take to make democracy work as it should? In your opinion, what does it take to make democracy work as it should?

The Charles F. Kettering Foundation studies how to make democracy work as it should and our research is conducted from the perspective of citizens and what they can do collectively to address problems affecting their lives, their communities and their nation.  Our core insights suggest that a robust democracy requires responsible citizens who can make sound decisions about their future and can act on these decisions in democratic and complementary ways with government to produce public goods.  We define citizenship not as a legal status, but as a practice that is more than voting and serving on juries.  Citizens are more than consumers, constituents, clients and customers—they are people who work collectively with government to address shared community problems.

Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest.

The joy of my life is raising our twelve year old grandson.  He is a delightful, happy, sensitive young man who lights up our life.  For a class project, he and two classmates created a business—they sell keychains they designed and 3-D printed along with baked goods they make.  Their in-school enterprise is so successful they’ve hired two classmates to work for them!  Aden loves sports, playing Forte Night and watching You Tube videos and his active life keeps my husband and me engaged and active!

Meet The Matriots: Sarah Brandon & Michael Bowen

Sarah and Michael are Founding Members Class of 2019 and proud Cleveland residents. This power couple met at Shaker Heights High School, where Michael says he fell in love with Sarah the moment he saw her. Sarah is a realtor and Michael is an associate attorney at Taft, Stettinus & Hollister LLP, where he is a member of the litigation team. Both Sarah and Michael are active in their communities. Michael served as the Campaign Director for Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in 2017 and recently helped Matriots endorsed candidates, Julianna Johnston Senturia during her race for Mayor of Shaker Heights. 

As Founding Members Class of 2019, why did you both join The Matriots PAC and why do you feel that our work is important?

We both have role models—especially former Shaker Heights City Councilwoman Lynn Ruffner (Mike’s mom)—who played a role in Cuyahoga County politics. We believe that women in elected office are necessary. They provide diversity in thought and leadership. Any organization that puts women elected officials at the forefront is something we must support.

Sarah and Michael, you both have been heavily involved in the Cleveland community, from your perspective what makes Cleveland special?

We were born and raised in this town and we have loved living here. Cleveland is a place full of culture and vigor.

Michael, you’ve been involved in politics most of your life, can you share with our members what you learned from your experiences and what drew you to work in politics?

I caught the political bug early helping on my mother’s campaigns. The number one lesson I have learned about politics is what appears to be going on with the naked eye is not necessarily true. Being one-step ahead of what is actually happening is key.

Sarah, in 2018, The Matriots endorsed our very first class of endorsed candidates. Can you tell our members about a candidate who inspired you and why?

A candidate that inspired me last cycle was Juliana Johnston Senturia, candidate for Mayor of Shaker Heights. And that is not just because my husband ran her campaign! She is a Jewish woman like myself and it was so empowering to see her put herself out there. Regardless of what came up during the election, and it was a tough one, she stayed positive, stayed true to herself and kept working hard until the very end.

Now for something fun! You two recently got married, tell our members how you met and when you knew the other was the person you wanted to spend your life with.

We met at Shaker Heights High School Sarah’s freshman year in 2001. Mike fell in love with her the moment he saw her in the cafeteria that first day. The feeling was finally mutual 10 years later.

Meet a Matriot: Tom Grote

 

Tom Grote is Matriarch and past member of The Matriots PAC board of directors. He was instrumental in our organization’s early growth and  is active in his community. He currently is leading the opening of the Grote family innovation center and is a partner at Grote Turner, which works with companies and non-profits to clearly define and align purpose in their organizations. He sits on the COTA board of trustees and previously served on the board of trustees for the United Way of Central Ohio. He helped found Equality Ohio, and most recently co-chaired the capital campaign for Stonewall Columbus. Tom lives in German Village with his husband, Rick Neal, their daughters Amoret (9) and Sophia (7) and their newly adopted dog, Muppy.

You joined the board of directors of The Matriots PAC when it first formed. What drew you to our work and how did it feel to be the only man on the board of an organization dedicated to women’s leadership?

My husband and I and our girls, Amoret and Sophia, participated in the DC Women’s March in 2017.  I was impressed by the energy and tone of the March. There were thousands and thousands of mostly women, and it was intense.  But intense in a peaceful, determined way. It was powerful. And I was proud that my girls had that experience. Amoret’s take away was one of the chants, “My body, my choice.”  She uses this as a way to claim her own power about all kinds of things. She has internalized this and her daddies could not be more happy and proud.

The women who founded The Matriots were also at that march.  And that is what drew me to them. They have that same peaceful determination.  The Matriots are right that we need more women in office. Because we need more of that peaceful intensity making the decisions that affect our communities and our children’s futures.  

I was proud to be the only man on the Matriots’ steering committee and board.  There is a different dynamic in a group of women rather than a group of mostly men.  Most of the dynamics are better in that there was more discussion and more sensitivity to points of view, and less worry about who got credit.  There were some tears and sharing that were helpful as well. There were comments made that are not typically made in front of men, I think. Some were surprising to me, but I will take them to the grave 🙂

You were instrumental in the founding and success of Equality Ohio, a statewide organization that advocates and educates to achieve fair treatment and equal opportunity for all Ohioans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity or expression. Are there similarities between that experience and helping to get The Matriots off the ground?

So many similarities.  Both statewide, political organizations led by highly motivated volunteers seizing a moment in history.  Both working with many constituencies, challenging them to come together despite differences and backgrounds.  Most importantly, both with an opportunity to define a bold vision and inspire folks to donate time and treasure.  I was able to lean on my experience with Equality Ohio, particularly around challenging us to be bold and clearly define our vision.  The Matriots’ bold goal: 50% of all officeholders will be women in ten years! It is bold, but achievable. And achieving it will make Ohio better.  

In addition to grassroots organizing, you have spent the last year helping your husband, Rick Neal, campaign for US Congress. How was that experience and did it change your view of politics?

I could write a book on this one.  I learned so much. First off, many folks complain about the work around running for office.  But, if you have the right attitude, it can be fun. Our family was all in and we had a blast.  We liked the campaigning. And we liked being able to stand up for our values, particularly in this time of Trump.  While Rick did not win his race, we did get to participate in taking back the house, particularly since Rick ran against the chair of the NRCC.  Despite the loss, this was a huge win for our democracy. Democracy works, but not for the lazy. We got to show our kids that first hand. No regrets.    

What motivates you and Rick to be so politically active?

Rick is a peace corps guy.  He took an oath to uphold the constitution.  He has community in his DNA. For me, I had some dark days in my life dealing with my sexual orientation.  I had an awakening as I navigated through that process. I am deeply connected to a sense of WE versus ME. I resonate with leaders who fight for all of us.  I want to be that type of leader too. So, I usually say yes to opportunities that show up around social justice and community. And a lot of those opportunities are political in nature.  

Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest.

Given that we had to fight for the right to marry and adopt our kids, family is everything to me.  I love spending time with my kids. And I love being goofy with them. The best times are blaring Alexa to kids bop and 70’s disco songs and singing and dancing our hearts out.  This gay boy is un-stereotypically a very bad dancer, just ask my girls. But those are the best times ever!

Meet a Matriot: Harriet Warm

1) You were among the first of the Cleveland-area people to join The Matriots PAC, and signed on as a Founding Member. What about The Matriots’ work appeals to you?

Having attended a girl’s school, a women’s college and been on the all-female board of a hospital, I know how effective women can be. I was dismayed by the limited number of women running for office, even in 2018.

When I was introduced to The Matriots, I immediately felt they could be my proxy. They could sort out the abilities of Ohio women running for office, something I could not do effectually as an individual.  The fact that they focused narrowly on Ohio and offered a range of support to candidates seemed to me a recipe for success over time.

2) You moved to Ohio several years ago from New York City, where you worked at Citibank.  What is your view generally on politics in Ohio?

Politics in Ohio seems much more personal. New York City is so large that it is difficult to have an impact.  Because it is predominantly Democratic, the action is usually in the primaries.  In Ohio one often personally knows one or more candidates and there is a feeling that individual support can truly make a difference.

3) What are your observations about the differences between Cleveland and Cincinnati politically?

When I grew up in Cincinnati there was no Democratic Party. There was only the Republicans and the Charterites.  My father ran as a Charter candidate one year. They needed someone to put on the ballot and, as a young lawyer, he agreed to do it. Of course he lost, but as a child I remember listening avidly to the tallies as the votes were counted.

4) You have a particular passion around the arts, have been a board member of Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, the founder of the Leadership Council at the Cleveland Museum of Art and now work on a larger scale through the National Museum of Women in the Arts. How does your work in the arts support your belief in women’s leadership?

Both MOCA and NMWA were founded by women and have had powerful women directors for many years. The CMA has a growing number of women in key roles and three recent major exhibitions featured women artists or were female inspired. Working with all three of these institutions how can I not see how much women can accomplish?

5) Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby or a personal interest. 

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I have a zest for travel. I’ve hiked the Annapurna route in Nepal, spent time in Bhutan, visited India multiple times, toured Europe, South America and much of Africa. Now I’m especially focused on family trips. I am traveling in January, with my two daughters, to Sri Lanka, and in February to Charleston for a long weekend.  It’s a rare treat to explore new territory with them and see how they support each other.  I’m fortunate to have this kind of fun in my life!

Meet a Matriot: Kirsten Knodt & Mairead Reddy

Ever wonder who created The Matriots bee logo, or maybe our popular car magnet? Meet the Matriots Kirsten (left) and Mairead (right) of Reddy or Knot design. Mairead (rhymes with parade) studied graphic design in Waterford, Ireland and has over 25 years of design and print production experience. She speaks cmyk fluently and has great Photoshop skills to boot! Kirsten (K-ear-sten) is a wordsmith and a graphic designer and loves to help clients communicate powerfully with just the right images and words. Reddy or Knot is a small firm creating big ideas for companies like Marriott International, Aloft Hotels, Element Hotels, Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, Mastercard and Columbus College of Art and Design – and of course, The Matriots PAC! We are incredibly grateful to have Kirsten and Mairead’s support, both as members and graphic designers.

You have very generously supported The Matriots PAC with your creative design and branding work at Reddy or Knot since even before the organization filed as a political action committee. What about the Matriots’ work appeals to you?

Most of our work is for corporations, so we’re excited when we get to work on smaller brands with a worthy cause. It means we get to be in on something that we feel is important and help create it from the ground up.   

Have there been particular experiences that have informed your personal journey as feminists?

Kirsten: I remember that my elementary school curriculum was mostly project based. For one project I dressed as Geraldine Ferraro and for another Harriet Tubman. I come from a long line of feminists, so it was no surprise that I always chose women to emulate and idolize.

Mairead, you are a native of Ireland. What are your observations about women’s leadership in America?

For 21 years of my life (from 1990 to 2011) we had back-to-back female presidents in Ireland. I’m not saying those two women didn’t face loads of discrimination—and maybe I’m naïve—but I don’t feel women are on quite such uneven footing in much of Europe. People’s differences, whether it’s their race, gender, sexuality, disability, etc. are not used against them in the same way that they are in the States.

Kirsten, your company has top-name clients, from Starwood Hotels to Mastercard. Have there been challenges unique to being a woman business owner?

As a certified women-owned business, larger corporations look favorably on doing business with us. And in our field, the clients we work with at those companies are typically women so I can’t say that we have experienced challenges unique to being women. We’ve been quite fortunate in that respect.

Now for something fun: Share with us an anecdote about yourselves, a hobby or a personal interest.

We both love to play tennis. Mairead discovered the sport for the first time recently, and I rediscovered it after loving it as a kid but not playing for 30 years. Mairead’s enjoying it so much, in fact, that she played on Halloween dressed as Billie Jean King. The hair got in the way after a while.

Meet a Matriot: Congresswoman Joyce Beatty

Since 2013 Congresswoman Beatty has proudly represented  Ohio’s Third Congressional District. Prior to her service in the U.S. House of Representatives, Congresswoman Beatty was Senior Vice President of Outreach and Engagement at The Ohio State University and a member in the Ohio House of Representatives for five terms. While serving in the Ohio House, she rose to become the first female Democratic House Leader in Ohio’s history. She is a Founding Member of The Matriots PAC and proud grandmother of two toddlers.

You were an early supporter of The Matriots PAC, providing encouragement, advice, and funding. What about The Matriots PAC’s work appeals to you?

I was encouraged and delighted to see a diverse group of women uniting to support and advocate for like-minded women. Like The Matriots, I want to see more women in government at all levels. Too often women are on the sidelines because they don’t know how to get involved. The Matriots reached out to me and genuinely wanted to be educated about integrating politics, issues, and people—they listened, learned, and they put words into action. Further, I believe they realized in order to accomplish great things they had to harness the talents, skills, and unique perspectives of the founding women, as well as raise dollars to support candidates. They were bold and committed to helping women in a bipartisan fashion.

You entered political life in 1999, when you were appointed to take the seat previously held by your husband, Otto Beatty Jr. What led you to step out of private life and pursue a political career?

I believed it was an opportunity for me to build on the legacy Otto had created, but to do more and to create a platform for women. I realized there were legislative changes that needed to take place to make life better for all Ohioans. I was engaged in the community, and had a successful business, but I believed I could marry my experiences to politics and policy and make a difference—especially for women and minorities. I have a voice that resonates with people, and early on I made a commitment to use that voice to speak up for the voiceless and speak out on civil and economic injustices, education, and healthcare. Just think, there had never been a female Democrat leader in Ohio’s history until me. That is why I knew I had to be in the room to make a difference.

As a woman who has served in both the Ohio House and U.S. Congress, what advice do you give to our candidates running for the Ohio legislature?

Always speak truth to power and remember honesty, integrity, respect, and civility are great core values to guide you. Have a firm conviction to your values and constituent needs. Be confident and courageous. Don’t look for the easy way out—remember the actions you take during times of challenges and controversy will be looked upon. Learn the rules of engagement, know you will have to make sacrifices—but put family first, plan well, and know it always seems impossible until it’s done. Realize some days will feel like you are on the journey alone—but remember others have walked in your footsteps and now we are marching and running for higher offices.

I remember the week I was sworn in to the Ohio legislature, there was a bill being debated regarding women’s issues—I felt compelled to address the House and I was prepared. However, the tradition was new members waited before speaking so soon on the House floor. I broke the rules—I spoke out. While that incident led to me being called into Speaker Davidson’s Office, it had a pleasant ending. My actions garnered her respect—and soon a powerful Republican leader and I, a Democrat, became friends. People are watching you—so give them something powerful to watch. Remember: When women succeed, America succeeds!

You and Congressman Steve Stivers (R-OH15) have formed a close political partnership and are known for working successfully across the aisle. How do you manage that and is that something increasingly difficult to achieve these days?

Working together and sharing ideas should be a natural thing to do. However, in today’s political climate it has become increasingly more difficult to work in a bipartisan fashion. Congressman Stivers and I believe in civility and that one can disagree without being disagreeable. We became friends prior to serving together in Congress. We met when there was a problem that brought us together, and we resolved it with a win-win—and that jump-started our belief that opposite parties can work together. It has not always been easy, but we have worked together closely on a number of issues and have crafted legislation that helps all of our constituents in Central Ohio and beyond. Steve and I know that working across the aisle is better for everyone. So that is what we set out to do with the creation of the Congressional Civility and Respect Caucus. Now we have 34 members (17 Democrats and 17 Republicans) and counting in the Civility and Respect Caucus.

Now for something fun: Tell us about a family member, hobby, or a personal interest.

I am very lucky to have a great supportive family—but my grandbabies are the greatest joy. My two grandchildren call me Grammy—like the “Grammy Award” because we are our greatest gift to each other. They keep me focused—they are smart, beautiful, loving—and FUN!