Happy Galentine’s Day, ladies! Thanks to Parks and Rec’s Leslie Knope, we now have a formal reason to celebrate the amazing women in our lives on Valentine’s Day Eve. I am lucky to be friends with some incredibly impressive women who have helped to make the world a much better place. On today’s Galentine’s Day, I want to toast to a few of these queens of empowerment and spread the word about all the good things they’re doing! In no particular order, here they are:
Ruzwana founded Peek.com, which is a wonderful resource for booking cool excursions whether you’re traveling or just want to explore more of what’s in your own backyard. She’s been featured on Fast Company’s Most Creative People and was honored in Fortune for work as an entrepreneur. She is someone who is constantly pushing for women to have a seat at the table, especially women of color, as she is Pakistani and grew up in a patriarchal system she had to fight to break out of. I have endless admiration for her.
I didn’t realize what a pain getting tickets to events was before Eventbrite and I have Julia to thank for that. She’s the CEO of the company, which has been honored as one of the best places to work in the Bay Area. Not only is she a pioneer in the tech landscape, but before that she was part of big things in Hollywood, like overseeing production on Nip/Tuck and Rescue Me. She’s an endless stream of good advice and I am proud to know her.
Shadi is the quintessential woman warrior, as she fights for women-led companies to get funding through her company Rivet Ventures. She offers capital opportunities to companies in female first markets where women are key decision makers. Because of her, more women are being considered in business, thus benefiting women worldwide. I am so happy Shadi is helping more women’s voices be heard.
Lija is part of a key partner at Bridgespan, which helps companies with a mission reach more people. Lija leads the Education Practice at Bridgespan, meaning every day she is fighting for education reform so our kids have better learning opportunities. She is making sure our kids are not treated like cogs in a system, but rather taught in the way that will best resonate with them. My son and I are both extremely grateful for Lija and her work.
Shiza is Malala’s mentor. I don’t need to say anymore, but I will: Shiza is the CEO and Co-Founder of the Malala Fund, which helps ensure girls get a safe and free education worldwide. Her activism started during her childhood in Pakistan when she worked at a relief camp after an earthquake killed 85,000 people in Kashmir. Later in her life, when she saw a YouTube clip of 15-year-old Malala discussing how she was shot for her pursuit of education in Pakistan, Shiza reached out to Malala’s dad to see how she could help Malala’s cause. I love Shiza’s passion for educating girls and her perseverance to make sure every girl gets a chance to learn.
Katherine has explored so many different entrepreneurial avenues. She’s the CEO and founder of BetterBack, a company helping all of us sit better so our backs aren’t killing us, and raised more than $3 million just from crowdfunding. She’s also the advisor for Blink, a company that helps connect freelancers with opportunities. She’s done a bunch of other things that would take too much time to list and truly proves that your drive is the only thing standing between you and success.
Leila is hard for me to talk about, as she recently died from a rare cancer at just 37 years old, but I’d be remiss not to mention her. I miss her every day, and I still find it unbelievable that she’s no longer with us. Her work and heart was in helping the impoverished, and she dedicated her life to creating technologies that would make their lives easier. She was the CEO of Samasource, a company whose mission is finding job opportunities for the poor in developing countries. She gave so much of her life to others, and her altruism is something I hope the world remembers and carries on.
Writing this has made me so thankful to know each and every one of these women. They’re not just part of my support system; they’re fighting for a global support system for the women of the world. To all the inspiring women out there who are helping making things a little easier for us: Happy Galentine’s Day. ❤️