I love Leslie Knope. She inspires me to be a better person, citizen, friend, woman, and really any other role I could play. Even though she is just a fictional character, the women who inspire her are real women with very real accomplishments. Below is a list of the twelve women featured on Leslie’s Wall of Inspirational Women, each of which has opened countless doors for the development of our society, especially in regard to the advancement of women. Which doors will you use?
Jeannette Pickering Rankin
I may be the first woman member of Congress but I won’t be the last.
Jeannette was the first United States Congresswoman, elected in Montana in 1916 and 1940. She was a lifelong pacifist and was one of fifty members of Congress to vote against entry into World War I in 1917 and the only member of Congress to vote against declaring war on Japan after the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Though her stance on these issues was wildly unpopular, she defended herself in saying, “As a woman, I can’t go to war, and I refuse to send anyone else.”
When I became speaker, they said, ‘I made history.’ I said, ‘We made history,’ now we have to make progress.
As the Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives and the 60th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi (D – Calif.) is the only woman to have served as the House Speaker and is the highest-ranking
There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.
When Madeleine Albright (D) took office as the 64th U.S. Secretary of State in 1997, she became the first female U.S. Secretary of State. In that role, she reinforced United States alliances; advocated for democracy and human rights; and promoted American trade and business, labor, and environmental standards abroad. In 2012, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Obama. Now, as someone who is fluent in English, French, Russian, and Czech and proficient in Polish and Serbo-Croatian, she serves as a Director on the Board of the Council on Foreign Relations.
It’s good to have female or minority role models. But the important thing is to have mentors who care about you, and they come in all colors.
Condoleezza Rice (R) is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, making her the first female black Secretary of State. She also served as President Bush’s National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to fill that position.
Too many women in too many countries speak the same language — of silence.
Hilary Clinton (D) is a former United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator, First Lady of the United States, and First Lady of Arkansas. When she took office as a New York Senator in 2001, she became the first female Senator from that state and the first First Lady to ever run for public office. Running in the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Clinton won more primaries and delegates than any other female candidate in American history. In her concession speech, she said, “Although we weren’t able to shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling this time, thanks to you, it’s got about 18 million cracks in it.” As the 67th U.S. Secretary of State, Clinton visited more countries than any of her predecessors. She used “smart power” to assert U.S. leadership and values abroad, by combining military power with diplomacy and American capabilities in economics, technology, and other areas. She encouraged empowerment of women everywhere and used social media to communicate the U.S. message abroad.
They used to give us a day–it was called International Women’s Day. In 1975 they gave us a year, the Year of the Woman. Then from 1975 to 1985 they gave us a decade, the Decade of the Woman. I said at the time, who knows, if we behave they may let us into the whole thing. Well, we didn’t behave and here we are.
Bella Abzug (D), nicknamed “Battling Bella,” was an American lawyer, U.S. Representative, social activist, and leader of the Women’s Movement. In 1971, she, along with Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, founded the National Women’s Political Caucus. After her successful 1970 campaign to become a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for New York, she declared, “This woman’s place is in the House – the House of Representatives.” She was later appointed to chair the National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year, to plan the 1977 National Women’s Conference, and lead President Jimmy Carter’s commission on women.
Women have begun to see that if I go through that doorway, I take everybody through it.
Dianne Feinstein (D) is the senior United States Senator from California and a former mayor of San Francisco. In 1978, she served as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ first female president, leading her to become the first female mayor after the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. After a failed gubernatorial campaign in 1990, she won a 1992 special election to the U.S. Senate. Feinstein was first elected on the same ballot as Barbara Boxer, leading the two women to become California’s first female U.S. Senators. Feinstein has been re-elected four times since then and in the 2012 election, she set the record for the most popular votes in any U.S. Senate election, having received 7.75 million votes. At the age of 80, Feinstein is the oldest currently serving United States Senator.
We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.
Michelle Obama is an American lawyer and writer in addition to serving as First Lady alongside President Barack Obama. In her roles as First Lady of the United States and the wife of a Senator, she has distinguished herself as a role model for women and an advocate for poverty awareness, nutrition, and healthy eating.
I’m not fancy. I’m what I appear to be.
In 1993, Janet Reno (D) was nominated and confirmed as the first woman to serve as the United States Attorney General. She served as the 78th Attorney General from 1993 to 2001, making her the second longest serving Attorney General since William Wirt in 1829. On April 17, 2009, Reno was awarded the Justice Award by the American Judicature Society for “her commitment to improving our systems of justice and educating Americans about our great common enterprise – to ensure equality under the law.”
Do the best you can in every task, no matter how unimportant it may seem at the time. No one learns more about a problem than the person at the bottom.
Sandra O’Connor (R) is a former United States Supreme Court Justice and a NAFTA adjudicator. She served as an Associate Justice from her appointment in 1981 by Ronald Reagan until her retirement from the Court in 2006. She was the first woman to be appointed to the court, the first female Majority Leader in the United States as the Republican leader in the Arizona Senate. As a federalist and a moderate conservative, she tended to approach each case narrowly without arguing for sweeping precedents. On August 12, 2009, President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor of the United States.
I’ve never backed down from a fight and I relish a good debate.
Olympia Snowe (R) is a former United States Senator from Maine, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, First Lady of Maine, member of the United States House of Representatives, and a member of the Maine House of Representatives. Snowe is known for her strong sense of bipartisanship, ability to compromise, and influence on close votes.
I never went into physics or the astronaut corps to become a role model. But after my first flight, it became clear to me that I was one. And I began to understand the importance of that to people. Young girls need to see role models in whatever careers they may choose, just so they can picture themselves doing those jobs someday. You can’t be what you can’t see.
Sally Ride was an American physicist and astronaut. She worked with NASA from 1978 to 1987, making her the first woman in space. In 2001, she and her partner co-founded Sally Ride Science, a company designed to create entertaining science programs and publications for upper elementary and middle school students, with a particular focus on girls. The two women also co-authored six children’s science books to encourage children’s interest in science.