How Stephanie Lepp Makes Room for a Reckoning


Stephanie Lepp is the creator and host of a podcast about how people change their hearts and minds-- it’s about people who decided on their own to completely change their world views. It’s about people who took a look in the mirror, and realized they did not like what they saw. How do you do that? Her show is called Reckonings...and it sure feels like our society could use a reckoning right about now. But do things need to change on an individual level first? I invited Stephanie to share what she’s learned about how personal change can lead to positive societal change.


TRANSCRIPT. We do our best on these, if you see an error, let us know!

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller. And today on Inflection Point we want a lot of people to change their ways right now. How far are you willing to go to let them?

Stephanie Lepp:                It's amazing what a gesture can do and are we willing to let alone give the person a job, just let the bad guy change?

Lauren Schiller:                  Join me and Stephanie Lepp of Reckonings. Stay tuned.

Stephanie Lepp:                I am Stephanie Lepp. When I feel comfortable with people I would say that I'm a tuning fork. I would say that I am a gentle mirror.

Lauren Schiller:                  Tell me more about the tuning fork.

Stephanie Lepp:                The tuning fork.

Lauren Schiller:                  I love that.

Stephanie Lepp:                I mean, I just came out right now. I guess I am seeing the gravity of the situation or sensing the gravity of the situation but also responding to it in a way that is hopeful and creative and maintains imagination and maintains humor.

Lauren Schiller:                  But it seems like both of your metaphors are about being in touch with the world and wanting to kind of play back what you're seeing.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes, because I think that's part of the idea of in order to get to anywhere we have to start from where we are. Part of it is yes, must see the nature of the situation clearly in order to go anywhere, but cannot stop only at seeing the nature of the situation clearly. That can also just lead us to stagnation and depression. So there is both a seeing clearly and a dose of creativity and imagination and hope to move us forward.

Lauren Schiller:                  This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller. And that's Stephanie Lepp, the creator, and host of a podcast about how people change their hearts and minds. And this isn't about changing your mind on the small stuff like, "Oh, I wanted to cook dinner in but instead let's eat out." It's about people who decided on their own to completely change their world views. This is not an easy thing. I mean, when's the last time you did that, or I did that or made room for someone else to? Her show is about people who took a look in the mirror and realized they didn't like what they saw. As someone said to me, it's like they took their own hearts out of their bodies, took a good look at them, moved things around a little and put them back inside. How do you do that?

                                                      The show is called fittingly Reckonings. And it sure feels like our society could use a reckoning right about now. But do things need to change on an individual level first? I invited Stephanie to share what she's learned about how personal change can lead to positive societal change. So where did you grow up?

Stephanie Lepp:                I grew up in the North Bay [crosstalk 00:03:41].

Lauren Schiller:                  Of California.

Stephanie Lepp:                Of California. Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  Did that influence the way you think about the world do you think?

Stephanie Lepp:                Yeah, my mom is a yoga instructor. My dad is in technology. I'm a Mexican Jew. I was raised very much... Spanish was my first language and my mom is an artist who would always kind of take us to every single museum within a 25 mile radius of wherever we were traveling I feel like, grew up in an area and in a family that was definitely very much about being open and available and thinking freely and asking questions. And Judaism also has kind of a practice of asking questions, right? There's kind of like the reinterpretation and re-reinterpretation of every single thing in Jewish history. It's kind of like we continue to ask questions about the same old things forever and ever and ever.

                                                      I think I've just been aware of my evolving consciousness from a young age. I mean, I remember in second grade waiting for the school bus for second grade. And I remember thinking, "Last year I didn't know anything. Last year was first grade. I didn't know anything. Now I really know what's up. I'm going into second grade." And then having that same experience going into third grade, and having that experience enough times that I was like, "Wait a second. I'm noticing a pattern here. Maybe I don't actually know everything there is to know now that I'm going into fifth grade. Maybe my mind is actually just in a process of changing and growing and evolving." And that stuck with me.

Lauren Schiller:                  So this concept of how people change their hearts and minds, I mean, why is that something you decided you really wanted to explore?

Stephanie Lepp:                Yeah. So that was through my earliest experiences with activism and social change in college and early into my professional life the question would always come up am I changing anyone's mind? Am I actually moving anyone on climate change or mandatory minimums or whatever issue I happen to be focused on at the time, which then of course, begs the question, how do people actually change their hearts and minds? And that question just kind of became a little bit of a fascination of mine. But I almost didn't even know what am I even researching here. What's the search term in my googling worldview transformation? Is that even a thing? I know behavioral economics is a thing, but I'm not looking to find out what makes people floss their teeth more often. I'm looking to find out what moves people in fundamental ways.

                                                      And it finally just kind of occurred to me that that question might be really powerful to manifest in the form of stories of people who have made these kinds of transformative change as a podcast. And so that's where Reckonings comes from. It is an exploration of the question how do people change, and really kind of more specifically, how do people change in ways that connect to or scale into broader social and political change.

Lauren Schiller:                  And so when you think about your role in bringing this understanding to light, I mean, how do you think of yourself?

Stephanie Lepp:                I mean, a mirror actually is very apt. That's really what I'm doing for the person I'm interviewing. I'm just being a gentle... I deliberately don't do interviews in person. Because a lot of what I'm asking people I'm asking people to talk about some really sensitive stuff sometimes. Sometimes it's the thing that they are the least proud of, the thing that they are really reckoning with. And I find it more helpful if I can just kind of be a little voice in their head that holds up a mirror to them such that they can just see clearly what they have done, the impact that they may have had on other people, and then how they have learned from that and grown from that. I want to make an uncomfortable experience like a tiny bit more comfortable, just a tiny bit, so you can just hang out in it longer and speak from that place.

Lauren Schiller:                  From the standpoint of the listener or the person who you are talking to?

Stephanie Lepp:                The person telling the story. Are we just going to keep taking the mirror metaphor everywhere? We might. I mean, yeah, the listener, there is kind of maybe a collective mirror of us beholding our own capacity to change. That's certainly part of what I'm doing, because I believe that we can at least even just for me personally in producing the show it's like what does it do to us to wander through the world with the belief that the people around us can change? It just creates more room for new things to happen that haven't happened before.

Lauren Schiller:                  Have you ever wanted to turn the mic on yourself? I mean, is there a reckoning of your own that you've been wanting to explore?

Stephanie Lepp:                I find that so intimidating. It's amazing that no one... I've been interviewed a little bit, a couple times. And it's amazing to me that no one has asked me the question of what I'm reckoning with, which I dread, which is so amazing to me or just hysterical to me because yeah, I mean, obviously, that's what I'm asking my guests to do. But I'm kind of just in total awe of all of my guests. I think what they do is so hard. It's like basically asking you in some ways to have a public therapy session. I mean, you're just letting out the hardest things. Have I wanted to turn the mic on myself? No. That sounds really scary. Which is part of why I'm so in awe of my guests.

Lauren Schiller:                  Well, what are you reckoning?

Stephanie Lepp:                So therefore, you're going to ask me the question.

Lauren Schiller:                  What are you reckoning with?

Stephanie Lepp:                What I am reckoning with is put really simply my relationship with productivity. It took me a long time to understand what I want to do. And so I feel like I've wasted all this time. And I have all this kind of old regret, and so therefore I must use all of my time super productively. And so I'm in this tug of war with time and I just hold my time accountable to... I mean, even just my understanding of what productive even means it prevents me from really just kind of being inside of and experiencing my life, is what it's preventing. And it became much more apparent to me once my daughter was born.

                                                      I thought she was going to start challenging me when she turned 13. It started immediately. It's like the second she came out of the womb, she was like, "Let me hold up a mirror to you mom and show you how addicted you are to crossing things off your list of things to do, because the second I need something from you have a really hard time diverting from whatever your plan was for what you were going to do in the next 10 minutes or the entire day." So it's just become that much more apparent to me as a mom, and I feel I am reckoning with... I mean, I guess it's also just the way I relate to and then have in my life and I am wanting to feel less like I'm struggling against my life or struggling against time and more in a experience of gratitude and awe for my life.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller being fully present with Stephanie Lepp, host of the podcast Reckonings, a show about how people change their hearts and minds. You can cross one thing off your list when you subscribe to the podcast and make a contribution toward our production at Coming up, Stephanie will share clips from her show, including the reckoning of a former neo-nazi. And she'll share what she learned from a sexual abuse survivor and her perpetrator, both of whom managed to work through it using restorative justice.

                                                      I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point. I'm here with Stephanie Lepp, host of the podcast Reckonings, and we're talking about how personal change can lead to positive societal change. Well, let's talk about some of the people that you talked to on Reckoning. I would like to start with your episode 19, which is about violent white extremists, because that... well, I mean, we can't walk away from it. So in this episode you talk with two different men-

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  ... Jesse and Frank.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  Why don't you tell us a little bit about each of those guys and then we'll play the clip.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yeah. So Frank is a former white supremacist. Jesse is a former jihadi extremist. And I weave their stories together. And part of the reason I do that is because I guess on the one hand we kind of think of those ideologies as somehow kind of like opposite or something. But you get to see how when you need something, when you are just feeling broken, and don't have many options and it's like you're going to reach for heroin, or alcohol, or white supremacy or jihadi extreme, whatever it is that helps you cope. And either one of them could have gone in the other direction. And there are times in the episode where you may not even be able to distinguish between their voices, but that's kind of part of the point.

                                                      So this is when Frank, he just got out of jail. He's looking for a job. He can't find a job. He has swastika tattoos all over him. And through a friend he manages to get a gig at a trade show with a Jewish antique dealer. And the Jewish antique dealer knows that Frank is a neo-nazi, but he says he doesn't care what Frank believes as long as he doesn't break the furniture. And so this clip picks up right after Frank has worked to this gig at the trade show with this Jewish antique dealer.

Lauren Schiller:                  And this guy Frank is the basis for the-

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  ... character that Ed Norton plays in American-

Stephanie Lepp:                American History X, yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  1998 for those of who are wondering when did that movie come out. Yeah. So if you've seen that movie or if you go see that movie that gives a instantaneous visual-

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  ... from what we're talking about here.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Frank:                                        He gave me a ride home that night. And when he gave me the ride home and then as he's dropping me off he just goes, "Hey, what do you do for a living?" I said, "I don't do anything." He goes, "Why don't you come work for me?" And I'm looking down at my Dr Martens on my red laces, which meant I'm a neo-nazi. And I keep looking down at the boots as he's talking to me, this Jewish man, and I'm trying to hide the boots underneath the other part of the seat. I'm just looking at him like, "Thank god this human being is in my life."

                                                      It's fear. I was full of fear. I was full of absolute fear for everything. And so I got with a group of people who also were fearful people, their fear for losing their homeland are going to lose their women to the black man. You name it. And my fear I felt made me weak. And so what they did is they turned my fear into an anger. And they made it to where it was my strong point. I was embarrassed. I was completely embarrassed of my beliefs. I was wrong, and I'd been wrong for the last seven years of my life. I'd been completely wrong. This is all [inaudible 00:16:42]. I believed in something that I was willing to die and kill for, something that is [inaudible 00:16:48].

                                                      I had so much seniority in this group. Seniority was important to me because I had nothing in this world. I cut everything and everybody that was not part of the movement out of my life. So that's all I have. So the car ride is coming to an end and he drops me off. And he goes, "I'll see you Monday, right?" And I took my pay and I went home and I could not wait to get home and get them boots off my feet. My whole image of me is gone. And I got to build something new.

Lauren Schiller:                  So for this episode the overarching question that you ask is what happens when we look past ideology.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  And, I mean, this guy that gave him a job, this Jewish guy that gave this neo-nazi with swastikas all over himself a job. I mean, it's kind of incredible.

Stephanie Lepp:                It's completely incredible. It's completely incredible. I mean, it's both incredible that he was willing to do that, and it's also incredible how much that does, how much a gesture like that can do. And yeah, it poses the question back to us if we were that Jewish man would we have given Frank a job? I mean, even less than that, like giving someone a job, even talk to people being willing to talk to people. So yeah, it's amazing what a gesture can do, and yeah, I take that back to are we willing to let alone give the person a job just let the bad guy change?

Lauren Schiller:                  I mean, one of the things that this episode made me think about and even just that clip is the responsibility of the person who is going to change or wants to change or maybe doesn't even know yet that they want to change and that it has to be a two way street. So there's the input from someone showing compassion. But then there's how is that received? How was he in that place at that time to be able to accept the work, even if he had reservations about whether or not he would get paid, which is part of what we didn't hear.

Stephanie Lepp:                Well, and it's a gradual... so Frank's transformation process actually started in jail when he started playing sports with black people and started getting to know black people really for the first time in his life. And it was coming from that experience and the confusion that that brought up of like, "Wait, actually black people are fine." Then he had this experience, so generosity from a Jewish person, and that just kind of sealed the deal in terms of revealing to him the absolute bankruptcy of his ideology.

                                                      And so it was a gradual thing. But yes, that is kind of what put him in the position and say, "Well, wait a second." Because you go through this process of like, "Okay. Fine, black people are fine, but Jewish people?" And it's like me with the school bus. After having enough experiences of seeing yourself repeat the same pattern you start to wonder is there a pattern here? Am I going to just say, "Okay. Fine Jewish people, but then the next person." Or am I finally going to say, "Actually, maybe there is something fundamentally wrong with the way that I have been seeing the world"?

Lauren Schiller:                  So on this topic of domestic terrorism and white supremacism and the attacks in El Paso and Dayton and Gilroy, and you reference in this episode the Oklahoma City bombing. One of your characters, I wouldn't know if it was Frank or Jesse.

Stephanie Lepp:                It was Frank. It was Frank, yeah.

Lauren Schiller:                  So Frank, the same fellow has insight into the bomber.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  Timothy McVeigh. And so he wants to go and talk to the FBI-

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes.

Lauren Schiller:                  ... about that. So can you just share a little bit about what happens as a result?

Stephanie Lepp:                Yeah, he watched the bombing or he watched kind of footage from the bombing on TV. And it was one scene in particular of a firefighter carrying I think a very young girl who looked like she might have been killed. And he just realized like, "I actually understand where this bomber was coming from, and I need to help. I need to use that understanding I have to help us prevent this from happening." So that's when he showed up at the FBI and he kind of... I think they first kind of were a little disarmed, but he showed up, he was like, "I need to talk to you about the bombing." Like, "No, I don't know information about the person but I understand where that person was coming from. And I need to help you understand where that person was coming from."

                                                      First I think he worked with the FBI and then even started working with the Anti-Defamation League and talking to Jewish audiences about what gives rise to these kinds of ideologies. And I guess this is kind of the concrete thing if you want to share with this episode. Actually both he and Jesse are part of this... It's called the Against Violent Extremism Network. This is unbelievable too me. It's a searchable database of former violent extremists. You can literally search for the kind of violent extremism you're looking for, so that you can find someone, a former extremists, who can then talk to current extremists or their families and basically help people exit lives of extremist violence, because they can speak to, they were there, they can speak to who they are coming from and kind of make the bridge to where they have come to.

                                                      And yeah, it's unbelievable to me that something like that even exists. But that's basically what they have made themselves, both Frank and Jesse and the others who are a part of it, made themselves available for is available for people who are still in those ideologies to even just kind of explore, experiment, or conceive of the possibility of moving in a new direction.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah. Which gets back to this question of when is someone ready? How can their path change sooner before the violent act?

Stephanie Lepp:                I don't know if I have a specific answer to that question. But certainly making it possible, making it available for them. I don't know if the Against Violent Extremism Network has an anonymous hotline or something where you don't have to... yeah, I don't know. But at least having that be... and I don't know how it's promoted. And actually, here's a kind of a similar example. Are you familiar with Footsteps?

Lauren Schiller:                  No.

Stephanie Lepp:                And I do not want to equate these things at all but just kind of an analogy in the sense that... now I'm almost hesitating. But it's an organization that helps Orthodox Jews explore the possibility of leaving the orthodoxy. That's really all it is. And I don't know how they promote themselves, but even just knowing that there's somewhere you can go, maybe it's anonymous or the person doesn't have to know you where you can even just dip your toe in the water of change, just see how it feels, try it on, don't have to commit to anything, don't have to change your public identity about it yet. But yeah, I mean, it's like if we're going to ask people to jump ship we need to give them a ship to jump to. So to the extent that there can be ships out there, that is helpful.

Lauren Schiller:                  Well, let's play a clip from another episode. This is episode 21, a survivor and her perpetrator find justice. For this one, you pose the question what does it sound like for a survivor to get her needs met? And what does it sound like for a perpetrator to take responsibility for his sexual abuse of power? Before we even play the clip I'm curious. How did you get answers to these questions? How did you find these people who are willing to talk to you?

Stephanie Lepp:                Yeah. So I was looking for them for a long time. I knew I wanted to find a perpetrator and survivor of sexual assault who managed to work through it using restorative justice. Because I just felt like that's what we weren't hearing and would be really helpful to hear the voice of a survivor who got her needs met and the voice of a perpetrator who actually graciously skillfully takes responsibility for his sexual abuse. And so I just reached out to and bugged all the practitioners of restorative justice for sexual assault violence that I could find, which, by the way, the fact that that's even a job that people have is amazing to me that that's some people's job, what they do for a living. So I reached out to as many of these practitioners as I could find. And someone named David Karp kept my name and got back to me a year later, and said, "I think I found your guests."

Lauren Schiller:                  Well, let's see hear this clip. So you've given names to these people. These are not their real name.

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes. These are pseudonyms. They gave themselves their pseudonyms.

Lauren Schiller:                  Okay. Great. So just introduce us to who these people are.

Stephanie Lepp:                Unwin and Sameer. Yes. So Unwin and Sameer met freshman year. Sameer was into Unwin, and they started kind of seeing each other a little bit, but then Unwin kind of blew him off and one night they ended up at the same fraternity party, which is when Sameer convinced Unwin to come home with him and then coerced her into sexual activity. So that was freshman year. And then their senior year, and you're going to have to listen to the episode to find out what happened between freshman year and senior year, but their senior year Unwin invited Sameer into a process of restorative justice.

                                                      Restorative justice basically is a response to crime that engages offenders and victims in repairing the harm that was caused. So Unwin invites Sameer into this process, and I also want to be really clear that in this episode we hear from both Unwin and Sameer, although in this clip we're only going to hear from Sameer. So this is kind of in the middle of the restorative justice process. This is right after Sameer reads Unwin's written testimony of what happened that night.

Sameer:                                   I thought in my brain I had asked her to take her shirt off. I didn't. I told her. I did not remember emotionally manipulating her to coming back to staying with me. I thought from my perspective I was being a potential teacher when it came to oral sex. Turns out, I was basically coercing her into doing this even though she wasn't comfortable. For my end I was like, "Oh, this was just a fun hookup." But then from her end it's like, "This guy is like pushing himself on me," and it didn't sound like me. It sounded like a monster. But that was the hardest part was that this guy who forced himself onto this girl is me.

                                                      I think it was combination of desperation, validation, wanting to finally get the girl that I've been after forever. I wanted to have fun and run around and just have a bunch of sex because that's what I thought college was. But now I wish I could just go back and talk to the kid and just be like, "Hey, dude, your heart is may be in a good place right now. But here's some things you need to know before you start engaging in sexual activities with other people that will prevent a lot of pain. You're a larger guy. You can't just go ahead and ask things and then expect people not to be intimidated by it. If it's not an enthusiastic yes don't do it."

                                                      I've made it very difficult for her to enjoy many parts of intimacy. I absolutely terrified her for years just being around. She would spend every day or at least once at some point almost every day trapped in that night and basically reliving it and she's had to think about it every single day. And I'm not sure if the wounds are all the way healed. I doubt they are but it's a pain that I can't take away no matter what I do. I can't take that away, and I know I've said it 1000 times but I am sorry.

Lauren Schiller:                  I've listened to that so many times and every time-

Stephanie Lepp:                Me too.

Lauren Schiller:                  ... it just gets me the same.

Stephanie Lepp:                Me too. Me too. Yeah. Me too. Me too [inaudible 00:32:00].

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah. I mean, what was your takeaway from what they went through and what people who are listening to this could take away too?

Stephanie Lepp:                Well, first of all it's just so refreshing to finally hear a man take responsibility and do it in a... he did kind of at first get a little stuck in this whoa it was me thing, which is not... this isn't about you. You can't get too stuck in self pity because then you're not actually helping the other person. So it's not just about hearing someone kind of like grovel. It's see clearly what they did and then be inspired by it, take that as, I don't know if inspiration, but yeah, it's motivation to help and to heal and for Sameer to work on this issue in particular. And so it's really refreshing to hear a man do that gracefully.

                                                      And it actually sounds... I mean, that's part of what I feel like my job here is, is to make it sound more stunning, more powerful, more manly I could say, to take responsibility, and to, let's say even be also just communicate around sexual intimacy in an open and mature way than to do the other thing where we're just kind of aloof and don't know how we affect other people or maybe don't care about that. Part of my goal here is to make it sound more beautiful and powerful and sure, manly to do what he did. And it does actually sound beautiful and powerful to take a look in the mirror and grow from what we see.

Lauren Schiller:                  In kind of the bigger picture of social change and being convinced that there's a better way forward if we think things are going arise, say, I don't know, with our society [inaudible 00:34:07] people who we might not agree with on a whole host of issues from the political on down to the biological let's say. They think they're right and they don't need to change, and we think we're right and we don't need to change, and finding a way to open the conversation and communication feels like the hardest task of all. So in terms of the kinds of things that you've learned from hearing these stories, these stories of change, I mean, is there kind of an anatomy of change or a way to take this personal change and think about it in terms of how does that scale-

Stephanie Lepp:                How does that scale.

Lauren Schiller:                  ... to social change?

Stephanie Lepp:                Yeah, and that's kind of precisely what I'm playing with here, is the relationship between personal and social change, this idea that big change out there in the world can start in here, inside of us, and that therefore we can be the change. But how does that actually happen? What does that actually mean? Well, we can look at these episodes as example. How does Sameer's personal change translate into social change. It's one less dude who's just kind of going around engaging in sexual activity in kind of a mindless way and one more mindful dude who has done this thing and has really learned from it and grown from it and can talk to other men about it.

                                                      Frank. It's one less white supremacist and one more advocate who can talk to people who still live lives of violence and can also kind of help us understand where he was coming from and where people are coming from and what would speak to them. So part of it is, let's say, growing the cadre of advocates or allies, and these people are kind of like uniquely effective advocates because they are kind of these bridge people. Sameer can speak to guys. He's a young guy. Frank was a leader in the movement.

                                                      So part of it is growing the team. And I tend to think about things in terms of power. And we all have the power to change ourselves, but some of us have more power in this world than others. And put crudely, their personal change would therefore translate into even broader social change. There have been guests of mine, for example, who have a lot of influence. So let's say for former congressman Bob Inglis made a really dramatic shift on climate change. He has a lot of power, and so his personal reckoning had that much more kind of social impact.

                                                      Jerry Taylor was a prominent... he was kind of like the spokesperson for climate skepticism. And his transformation also can lead to... So when I think about my wish list of guests I kind of think about who are the fewest number of people that if they had a personal reckoning that would lead to the biggest social change? What if Charles Koch had a reckoning? But that's still kind of coming from how does personal change lead to social change. We can also kind of think in the other direction, how does social change translate into personal change? How does or should the experience of participating in social change kind of change us as individuals when we have participated or when I have participated in activism and social change? Has it made me more angry? Has it made me more compassionate? Has it made me more hopeful? How does even engaging in social change or how do we want it to kind of change us personally?

Lauren Schiller:                  Have you heard from any of the people that you've spoken with... Well, you know you can kind of like feel a cold coming on? You get a little tickle in the throat or whatever, have they ever talked about feeling a change coming on whether it's a mental or physical sign that I am about to think about something differently? And how do you recognize that?

Stephanie Lepp:                I love that question. I've never heard a guest say that. And also for some people, they hit a rock bottom and clearly something needs to change. A white supremacist I interviewed a while ago, he hit a point where he said he was sitting over a bridge with a gun in his hand, and he said, "Wither I'm going to kill myself now or I'm going to change." For other people there's also kind of a house of cards thing that happens where... because a lot of our ideas are kind of like interconnected or held up by each other.

                                                      And so once you start dismantling one thing the entire house of cards just comes crashing down. So there was a young man I interviewed who he was in the military. He fought in Afghanistan and he became a conscientious objector. And once he started dismantling his ideas about the military and war all of a sudden his ideas about religion, politics, everything came crashing down. So sometimes there's also just an initial change that is kind of like, I don't know, canary in the coal mine or the kind of like a sign that more change is coming.

                                                      A third thing I'll say is we kind of create opportunities for ourselves or at least we can for I'm thinking specifically of Yom Kippur in particular. Is my favorite Jewish holiday. It's a holiday where you basically take a day too fast and reflect on how you affect other people and how you want to affect other people. And thank God I could definitely use that once a year. It's really helpful. Thank you God.

                                                      I mean, that's kind of like planting opportunities for change in your life. So maybe it's not like I can feel it coming on like a cold, but I at least want to make a little space in my life for it to happen if it needs to happen, and it probably does need to happen on a somewhat regular basis throughout my life with intention.

Lauren Schiller:                  What are the lessons that you have learned from all of these stories that you're gathering?

Stephanie Lepp:                Yes. So I used to have this extremely unscientific list of things that I thought radically transformed people. So falling in love, near death experiences, psychedelics, sometimes very rarely information because we usually just trust information that confirms what we already believe. And from what I have seen from the hours and hours of talking to people who have made transformative change, it's not that those things make us change. What those things have in common, or what they do, is that they reveal to us the difference between who we think we are and who we actually are, or the difference between the impact we think we're having on the world and the impact we are actually having on the world. And it's seeing that difference. It's seeing that gap. That is what initiates the process of transformation.

Lauren Schiller:                  Well, what's the best advice that you've ever been given about how to change?

Stephanie Lepp:                How to change myself?

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah.

Stephanie Lepp:                What's coming up for me is a quote by a philosopher named Ken Wilber, which is, "Any good theory helps you get to a better one." So to kind of just treat where I am, what I believe as kind of the provisional on my way to where... it's not the end all be all. I haven't figured it out. It's just the next step. It's what's going to help me keep moving forward in my pursuit of unimaginable happiness, joy, understanding, peace, love, all of it. So yeah, to just treat what I believe now or where I'm at now as the provisional and part of the movement forward.

                                                      I'm not all for like peace, love compassion, always. I'm a mischievous, pragmatic pluralist. Within the context of restorative justice, restorative justice and traditional criminal justice are not mutually exclusive. Just because someone is sitting in jail doesn't mean they can't work to repair the harm that they caused somebody else. So people should enjoy the consequences that are appropriate to whatever they did. And if we're also interested in having people also learn from and grow beyond what they did well, then, restorative justice is really helpful. It's not compassion or consequences. It's all of the above, under the right circumstances, in pursuit of our collective liberation. We have the punishment thing down. We know how to do that in this country. Actually then learning from the thing we did, that's the thing that we like, have it totally engaged.


Lauren Schiller:                  If you're considering a change stick around and hear Stephanie Lepp's toolkit for how your small personal change can lead to greater societal change. I'm Lauren Schiller. And if you're wondering what personal change you can make that can lead to positive societal change here's your toolkit with Stephanie Lepp. First things first, Stephanie says we need to make room for change.

Stephanie Lepp:                Over the years of producing Reckonings I have been able to witness our human capacity to change. We are capable of all kinds of extraordinary change, and we need room. We need room to change. And we are such a punitive culture. It's like even after perpetrators have taken responsibility or let's say kind of healed things up with their survivor or their victim, which in my humble opinion that's the most important stakeholder here, we often are still not even willing to see them kind of beyond the worst thing they ever did, or let them help. I mean, Sameer is a perfect example. He tried. He reached out to local public high schools and tried to kind of tell his story as part of their sex ed program. And they didn't know how to let an ex offender help.

                                                      And so the personal change, I think we can make, that could translate into broader social change is yes, to make more room for each other to change and grow, to make room under the right circumstances for perpetrators to become allies, which might sound like a blasphemous thing, but then when you hear it within the context of Sameer that can make sense.

Lauren Schiller:                  Stephanie says to keep a conversation open try not to respond with judgment or shame when you hear ideas you disagree with.

Stephanie Lepp:                I mean, if you think about Me Too as an example let's think about how have we each kind of participated in the Me Too conversation, how have we talked to the older men in our lives or even the younger men in our lives, or what have we liked online, or shared online, or commented or tweeted? Have we kind of adapted our ideas about someone to the way they actually behave to whether or not they have actually taken responsibility? I mean, I can give a personal example. I had a really long conversation with my father-in-law recently. We ended up in a car together for a long drive. And he heard Unwin and Sameer's episode and he responded in, I hate to say it, but it's kind of like the typical way that men his age kind of respond which is like, "In my day that wouldn't have been sexual assault. And so is that really sexual assault?"

                                                      And my response to him is like, "Just because there wasn't sexual assault in your day doesn't mean it's right. It doesn't mean like someone wasn't hurt." And so I think in our conversation I guess I didn't respond to him with judgment or shame. I made enough room, I think, in our conversation for him to kind of expand his mind on this and in a way that actually made me want to talk to his siblings, like my aunt and uncles in law. They kind of came into the conversation at a certain point, and I decided I'm going to talk to them over Thanksgiving, which is the whole trope of not talking about politics at the Thanksgiving table. But yeah, I guess the question to ask ourselves is am I engaging in the issues I care about in a way that makes enough room for my adversaries To change.

Lauren Schiller:                  And number three, the easiest way to remove barriers is to make connections. Ask questions and understand where someone is coming from.

Stephanie Lepp:                What I have found is that you may actually have similar values or similar intentions or similar... My father-in-law is and example. It's like he would not want anyone to be hurt either. And so if we can agree from that then we can kind of reverse engineer how do we get there. The LGBT Center in LA, this is a story, but I think it'll help answer the question, the LGBT Center in LA so after Prop 8 passed in California, which anti gay marriage, there was this whole reckoning really like how did that happen in California, in a state like California.

                                                      And so they did this thing, which apparently is really rare and political polling, where they decided to talk to people who voted against them, who voted against gay marriage, to understand where they were coming from and kind of with this idea of like, "Maybe we're going to change their minds." And so firstly knocking on doors and talking to people and kind of like shaming them a little bit. And of course, that didn't work. And what they learned, what they realized was that all they have to do is ask people open ended questions. And you can actually watch these conversations. They have videos.

                                                      So you watch this person knock on someone's door. It's like, "Oh, how did you vote on Prop 8?" It's like, "Okay, do you know anyone who's gay?" And the person's like, ""Oh, yeah. My cousin is gay." It's like, "Oh, tell me about your cousin. It's like, "I love my cousin. We have Thanksgiving at their house every year. And he's amazing with my kids. And I love him," whatever. "Okay, great. Are you married?" Like, "Yeah, I'm married." Like, "Well, tell me about your marriage." It's like, "I have the best relationship. I'm in love with her. We've been married for 50 years," whatever. And it's like, "Does your cousin know how you voted on Prop 8?" It's like, "Well, no. I haven't really talked to them about it." "And so how do you think they would feel about how you voted?"

                                                      You watch this person in real time, a stranger just asking them open ended questions about their life. And what I've learned about what moves people to change it's really just about seeing the difference between who you think you are and who you actually are. And it's seeing that difference, seeing that gap, that is what initiates. So all these people are doing is just holding up a mirror. You think you are, whatever you think you are. Frank thought he was this defender of the white race, but here is what you actually are, Frank, You were just an angry and violent and bigoted individual. And that person can make their own determination based on that. And so yeah, I mean, this isn't like a short tip or trick but hold holding up a mirror showing people themselves asking them open ended questions about themselves. People can come to it.

Lauren Schiller:                  That was Stephanie Lepp, mirror, tuning fork, and the host of the Reckonings podcast. I've got a link to her show on my website at You'll find this episode in the Inflection Point podcast feed in two segments. One is the full interview, and the other is the toolkit you just heard. With three ways your personal change can lead to positive societal change. Find Inflection Point episodes in any podcast app, or go to This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller, and this is how women rise up.

                                                      That's our Inflection Point for today. All of our episodes are on Apple podcasts, RadioPublic Stitcher, Pandora, NPR One, all the places. Give us a five star review and subscribe to the podcast. Know women leading change we should talk to? Let us know at While you're there support our production with a tax deductible monthly or one time contribution. When women rise up, we all rise up. Just go to We're on Facebook and Instagram at Inflection Point Radio. Follow us and join the Inflection Point Society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small daily actions. And follow me on twitter @Laschiller.

                                                      To find out more about today's guest and to be in the loop with our email newsletter, you know where to go, Inflection Point is produced in partnership with KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco, and PRX. Our community manager is Alaura Weaver. Our engineer and producer is Eric Lane. I'm your host Lauren Schiller.



How Kate Black is Getting More Women in Office--and how you can too

Former Chief of Staff for EMILY's List, Kate Black, just published her first book, written with the actress June Diane Raphael. It’s called “Represent The Woman's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World.” She shares the attributes of successful candidates, the stories of women who rose to office against all odds, and how to respond when you hear someone say this country isn’t ready for a woman president. Plus, how to determine if you have the time to get out there and run. Check out the companion "Toolkit" episode in the feed right now.

TOOLKIT: Listen here to find out the most important things you need to know before you run for office, what you must know when you run and how to support someone who is, all right here in a tidy little package.

Support the Inflection Point Campaign for Action. Donate today:

RESOURCES: There is a great section in the book that lists, Nationally and by State, tons of resources excerpted from the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University.

TRANSCRIPT: We do our best on these, if you see an error, let us know!

Kate Black:                            My name is Kate Black. I'm a policy advisor in the federal government and the former chief of staff and vice president of research at Emily's List.

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm just thinking about what position does a woman need to be in in her life to either afford to run or have the time to run? I'm thinking about all the things that are stacked against us. We're the primary caregivers, all the things that we're up against in terms of attaining leadership positions, you know, in a corporate setting let alone in a public setting. Is there kind of an ideal situation that you're in that says, "I'm equipped, I'm prepared, I have what I need to make it happen."

Kate Black:                            Well I think first and foremost it's really important to think about a couple of words that we say over and over in the book, which is that men are not waiting.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah.

Kate Black:                            Men are not waiting for that next, you know, promotion or for their children to grow up and move out of the house. They're not waiting for maybe an aging parent to finally get well. They're not waiting for that next training or webinar. Men are not waiting. I think to your point, is there a perfect time? I say no. I think you have to kind of understand where you're at currently and evaluate that. You're absolutely right, women are doing the majority of caregiving in this country whether it's paid or unpaid and we wanted to be really thoughtful about how we were addressing them but we also wanted to address self care and I think that self care gets a little bit of a buzzword these days but you have to really think about what you need to be successful and to bring your whole self, your whole, healthy self to a campaign.

Kate Black:                            If that looks like going to therapy, if it looks like taking a bath in some really nice lotion, if it means going to church, if it means going for a long walk with a friend or reading a book or doing some art. Whatever it looks like you need to make sure that you're making space for that in your campaign.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, I mean, it's hard to imagine. I'm trying to imagine Elizabeth Warren out there taking a long bath. I feel like-

Kate Black:                            I bet she does something. She has a dog, you don't think that dog goes for walks?

Lauren Schiller:                  I don't mean to create the imagine of now like, you know, potentially our future president in the bathtub. That wasn't my intention.

Kate Black:                            Right, Elizabeth Warren walking her dog. That I can see. I can see it.

Kate Black:                            [00:03:14]

Lauren Schiller:                  This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller and that's Kate Black. And while of course we're guessing on Elizabeth Warren's self care ritual, when it comes to getting pro-choice Democratic women in office, suffice to say Kate knows of what she speaks. Kate Black has been on Inflection Point before and returns to us because she just published her first book written with the actress June Diane Raphael. It's called "Represent - The Women's Guide for Running for Office and Changing the World."

Lauren Schiller:                  Tell me a little bit about how you and June got together to write this book in the first place.

Kate Black:                            Sure, so after 2016 June lives in California, I live in Washington DC, but like so many, in fact, millions of people after the 2016 elections were kind of called to do something more. A lot of us marched, a lot of us went to the streets and took up in the Women's Marches. A lot of us ran for Congress and for State House and got involved in politics and June and I specifically came together to write this book. She woke up after the elections and kind of I think like a lot of people kind of asked herself, you know, "If that guy could do it maybe I should." Looked around and there wasn't really a roadmap for her, you know? There wasn't a book that she could buy online or at her local bookstore that she could find. So she kind of made her way to me and we wrote this how-to guide, basically.

Kate Black:                            We wrote the story that we thought was missing. It provides that roadmap that I think June was looking for. It covers so many of the elements of running for office that uniquely impact women, you know? Where do you run? When do you run? Do you start talking about it? Clothing? Yes, we address clothing, and we address a subject that we hear a lot which is, "How do I help other women?" Through almost about three years from an initial phone call that lasted well over an hour to me going to LA, her coming to DC multiple times, writing a proposal, then writing the book itself and editing it and designing it.

Lauren Schiller:                  Is she planning to run or something?

Kate Black:                            You know, I think if you were to ask her that question, I don't want to speak for her but I thin if you were to ask her that question she would encourage all women to consider it and I think she's a woman that's considering it.

Lauren Schiller:                  What is the state of women in office right now? I mean, we were so excited at the last election when we elected all these congresswomen, you know? It seems like the momentum is really good but like what's the reality of where we are and where do you think we actually need to get to?

Kate Black:                            You know, the reality is that the work is not done. You're exactly right that after 2018 there was a wave of new women coming into all levels of offices and that was so exciting to see and I think what's been so great about that wave of, that newness, is that it's really invigorated our politics. You're seeing, I think, especially women coming into office with young children. They're having a voice in policy where they were absent before and I think that's super exciting. When you look at just the raw numbers it still isn't where it needs to be and that's precisely why we wanted to write this book. Women are over half of the population in this country but just barely a quarter of the seats in Congress.

Kate Black:                            There are almost half of the states across the country have never had a female governor. You know, and when you look at the mayors and the state legislatures we're making improvements there but we could certainly do more and we need to keep encouraging women to step up and lead. The same barriers that exist to women running for office remain. We know for a fact that it's harder for women to fundraise, especially women of color and our campaign finance system is just as it was. That barrier hasn't necessarily gone away but what we do in the book is provide some guidance and some advice for women who see that barrier in front of them and are just wondering like, "How am I going to raise this money? I have to raise probably thousands of dollars. I don't have that. How am I going to do it?"

Kate Black:                            What we do in the book is really try to rethink what fundraise can look like in your own campaign and instead of just seeing this huge number and budget in front of you and thinking, "I can't do it" instead we say, "Here's a way to jump over that barrier rethinking what you have in front of you."

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and I want to get into some of the nitty gritty of that, too, because that is clearly like, how you actually go and get it done is so important. Imagining it and envisioning it is one thing but then actually getting on the ground and doing it is-

Kate Black:                            Yeah it's [crosstalk 00:08:11] one thing to write the book but it's still really hard and that was one thing that June and I felt so strongly about is when you're writing a book like this you want to make it for any woman who wants to run for office and there's an inherent kind of struggle in making sure that all levels of offices are kind of represented and running for city counsel in a small town is very different than running for governor of a large state. We wanted to speak to both so I think throughout the book you see this kind of pivot back and forth from federal races and big gubernatorial races to the very local races.

Kate Black:                            Trying to understand and unpack how much money it does cost to run for governor of Texas, for example, versus maybe school board in Virginia Beach. You know, those are two different races but similarly a woman could be easily qualified and feel up for the task for both. We want to make sure that both of those women have the tools that they need to be successful.

Lauren Schiller:                  That's actually something I've been wondering about and first of all, it was a great reminder that there are all these levels of positions that are available to run for. It's not just about, you know, we're more so focused on the presidency right now, for example, but it's not just about that level.

Kate Black:                            Absolutely.

Lauren Schiller:                  It can be effecting your community. The 25% that you cited, is that pretty much even across the board across all of these positions or are there positions where we're seeing more woman in-

Kate Black:                            Well let me take a step back. I mean, you brought up a great point that so often I think when we think about campaigning or running for office we think about Washington DC. That's kind of where our mind goes but the book really represents the full depth and breadth of elected offices that you can seek out. There are over 500,000 offices that you can run for in this country. It's not just the 435 in the US House of Representatives or the 100 in the Senate or even that Oval Office on Pennsylvania Avenue. It's this whole landscape that's available to women and so we really wanted to speak to that.

Kate Black:                            To your question, though, about the 25%. We kind of hover around that number whether you're talking about the federal level or state legislatures. There are some super bright spots, though. Like for instance we know that women tend to make up a larger swath of school board seats. We also know that there are some state legislatures that are majority women. I think Nevada is one of those. There definitely are some bright spots, like I mentioned, but I think across the board we need to do more so that there are not just women in some of these specific sectors but rather when you look across the kind of political landscape it's filled with women.

Kate Black:                            I want to see women everywhere. Especially if we're ever going to think about parity, you know, we really have to have a long way to go there.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and keeping the momentum going and you know, I was thinking back to like, in the 90s it was the year of the woman, right? When Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and three or four other women were elected to the Senate in a single year. That was like, a really big deal, but that was over 20 years ago. How do we make this not just surge and retreat, surge and retreat, but keep the momentum going? What's your vision for how that might come to be?

Kate Black:                            Well I think Barbara Mikulski actually has a fantastic quote about the year of the woman because she would get asked about it all the time, you know? "Is this the new year of the woman?" I feel like that narrative comes up almost every election cycle, you know? "Is this the new year?" To be honest, there has been almost a steady growth. Now, that growth isn't huge, but a steady growth of women in elected office over time. What happens, though, is that as women step up to run women who are currently serving are either leaving their seats to run for higher office, which we're seeing right now with the presidential. All of the women except for Marianne Williamson currently hold elected office. If they're successful, that means that there's no longer a woman in their current seat.

Kate Black:                            Sometimes that happens where a woman is in elected office but chooses to run for something else. That creates a vacancy and it's not always filled by another woman. Or what we have been seeing a lot, actually, on the Republican side is Republican women choosing not to run for reelection. It certainly happens on both sides where we have some growth but for different political or outstanding reasons a woman will choose not to go forward. But you know, I think going back to Barbara Mikulski, I think she would say that, "Every year is the year of the woman," right? That year was special but we should keep this momentum and this narrative alive.

Kate Black:                            It's not that it's this year, it's every year. I think that's helpful just as a reminder. It's not just about women on the ballot, it's about women voters, it's about the issues that matter to women. You know, I think too often we get so focused on a number and I think outside of all that, we strip all that away, you're actually talking about some really fantastic women who have stepped up to lead their communities. Whether it's running for city council, running for Congress or the Senate or even presidency. I mean, that is just in itself, should be celebrated.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, agreed 100%. I mean, and actually to the larger point, why is it important that we have more women in office? I mean, there's the sort of obvious like, well you know we are more than 50% of the population so we should have equal representation but beyond the numbers what are some of the advantages to our whole society for having more women in office?

Kate Black:                            Well first and foremost, you know, I think June and I fundamentally agreed from the jump when we started this book is that having a more representative government, a government that looks like the people it serves I think is a better government. Especially when we see photo after photo of rooms of men deciding things without women present that directly affect the lives of women and our children and our planet. So I think, you know, having us be at the decision making table or wherever decisions are happening about society at large, I think, brings more voices and more opinions and I think ultimately hopefully better outcomes to that decision making process.

Kate Black:                            If you look at the data, which I love, if you look at the data the data does show that when women are in office we get things done. That means we sponsor more legislation, we're more likely to work across the aisle, we're more likely to focus on issues that relate to women and families. That could look like education and health care, it could look like reproductive choice. There are so many things, I think, that women choose to focus on as priorities that make our society better. When someone asks me, "Why should I care if a woman is on the ballot or not?" Or, "Why should I vote for her?" It's like, well two things, number one, if you're tired of Washington not getting things done vote for a woman. The data shows that they just get the stuff done but also if you care about some of these bigger progressive issues we find that women when they're in office do vote and do support some of these really important issues like healthcare and like education, like I mentioned, that do impact families at large.

Lauren Schiller:                  Sometimes you hear about the talk about in terms of like, feminine values versus masculine values and that these areas of education and healthcare and social programs and reproductive choice and justice are more feminine attributes or more feminine values, you know? That's great because we can draw a line between women and those things happening. What I'm also learning and a study actually just came out today I just read the headlines of is that those things benefit men, too. I want to make sure that the outcomes feel like they are not just, "Okay we're going to get more women in office so women as a whole are going to do better" but that men are also going to do better as a result of these policies.

Kate Black:                            Absolutely. You know, I think about it all the time, even just the language that we use about issues. For example when you hear it tossed around especially in election season, "Women's issues," right? A whole bucket of things could be women's issues but that in itself kind of puts it into a segment and allows, I think, anybody, the media, candidates, pundits, whoever, to kind of segment it and park it over in a different spot where it's not part of the national dialogue. Instead of categorizing it just as "Women's issues," I like to think about it just as issues that are important to women. That is a whole host of things. It could be foreign policy, it could be domestic policy, whatever it is, those issues are central to the lives of women in this country and we should be putting them front and center.

Kate Black:                            Too, and anecdote that I would share with you to kind of color the point that you just made, I remember I was in a focus group, this was probably three or four years ago. It was a focus group in Pennsylvania about equal pay. We did a group of millennial men and I remember watching the focus group and the moderator asked a question, "Do you think the wage gap is real?" Half the room said, "No." Then she asked, she kind of explained it a little bit and by the end of the focus group I distinctly remember this one young man's opinion because he was kind of an older millennial and he was one of the few married men in the room. I distinctly remember by the end of the session he said, "So wait, let me get this, if my wife is making an equal wage as she should be, that actually helps me, right?"

Kate Black:                            I wish he could see my face behind the glass. I was like, "Yes 100% it helps you so like, get on board." I just, I will never forget him kind of having that light bulb moment of like, "Oh my gosh, this issue directly impacts me. My wife's financial security impacts me. I need to be for this." It's like, "Absolutely bro. Come to the party. I don't care that you're late but I'm glad that you're here."

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and I'm so glad you're here to listen to my conversation with Kate Black, coauthor of "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World." You can change the world right now by subscribing to the podcast and making a contribution toward our production at

Lauren Schiller:                  Stay tuned because coming up we'll talk about running for the highest office in the land.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:19:16]

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point and I'm here with Kate Black, coauthor of "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World." So you brought up the progressive issues. Are you saying this book is for any political affiliation or do you have a bias towards one political affiliation?

Kate Black:                            This book is for, I think, any woman from any party. We acknowledge, you know, I think on page two that June and I both come from progressive backgrounds, that we have both worked to elect Democrats. That's no secret in the book. We also say on that same page I think on the next sentence is that we hope that a Republican woman picks up this book, too, and is inspired and motivated and encouraged to run. I made the point earlier about parity but if we ever want to get to 50% of Congress, let's say, the Democrats can't do it alone. We need Republicans to do their part, too. That, I think, goes across partisan divides. I think if you're a Democrat or a Republican or an independent or a member of the Green party or just out there by yourself. I would say you can pick up this book and see not only the advice that we give, which crosses parties, or the issues that we talk about which also cross party lines, I think you can also see yourself in some of the women that we profile and that we talk to and whose advice is kind of scattered throughout.

Kate Black:                            We talked to Democrats, we talked to Republicans, we highlight Republicans and we highlight Democrats. So I think our intention with this book was to make it non-partisan, both in the look and the feel.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, well right now we're in the midst of the Democratic primaries for the presidential race in 2020. What do you say to people who say, "Well, they're really smart and everything but this country's just not ready for a woman president."

Kate Black:                            Oh man, I would say look at the data. The data disproves that. I think there was a poll that just came out this afternoon that said that 56% of Americans said that the country was ready for a woman president. I think I would also go back to 2016 and for the record, a woman won three million more votes than the other guy. I think there's a lot of data points that we could show that shows that not only is the country ready but voters have spoken about this issue. Also, for the record, I think the women who are currently running for president, they've all won elections before in their districts or their states and so I think there's certainly an electability argument there that is percolating but I feel very strongly that both the country is ready, because they've shown it before, but also that these women are women who have won elections and can hold their own.

Kate Black:                            I'm excited to kind of see where it all goes but I'm just as excited to see these women who have proven records, proven track records of getting voter support.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah, I mean, it's really, it's kind of, sort of like a psychological game in a way to ask yourself the question, "Am I," especially in a position where I am hosting this feminist show, "Would I vote for them just because they're a woman or would I vote for the most qualified candidate who happens to be a woman or is the magic sauce that it's both?"

Kate Black:                            It could be the magic sauce. I mean, everyone has to answer that question for themselves but in that question I think I would challenge people to think about if you do value gender, if gender is for you, an unapologetic qualification, I think then the choice is obvious. I also don't think you have to be afraid of making gender a must have or value that you're looking for in candidates because this comes up a lot. This dialogue comes up or certainly the question, you know, we hear a lot like, "Yeah, are we ready for a woman president?" Or, "I just want to vote for the person who could win" or, "Her voice, just ugh, I can't." Or, "It's not her turn," or, "It's really time for him."

Kate Black:                            You do hear, or, "Why is she always playing X card," or, "She just doesn't represent me." All of those things we've heard before and what we wanted to do in the book was arm our readers with some kind of go to lines where they could interrupt some of that language. What we do in the book is provide a cheat sheet to interrupt sexist and racist, we say another word, comments about women candidates. It's meant almost to be cut out of the book and taken with you in your book bag, diaper bag, tote bag, whatever so that when it comes up you're kind of armed with something. It could be something as innocuous as, "Well tell me more about that. Why do you feel like you wouldn't vote for a woman just because she's a woman?" Or, "You say you just don't like her. Tell me more."

Kate Black:                            Sometimes I think people say these things because they've heard them before or they're kind of just memes out in the world and they're just repeating them but also I think sometimes there are real sentiments behind some of these comments and I think it's a dialogue that can happen from that interruption could be very valuable and could open up some thinking that might not have ever been kind of questioned before. We wanted to give the reader that part of the book. It was really, I think, a special piece that June and I wanted to include for sure.

Lauren Schiller:                  Actually that section is really helpful I think even as a woman reading the book. To interrupt some of the internalized sexism that we each hold within us because it's just like, baked in since day one of our birth, right, by living in this society.

Kate Black:                            Yeah. Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. You know, I think part of writing this book for me personally was understanding my own kind of voice and value and that I am enough to write this book and you know, you kind of have to get over a whole host of your own stuff to be able to do this. This was not an easy process for me and I think I can only imagine what it's like for someone running. The levels of kind of scrutiny and socialization and bias and all of these things that are kind of taught to women and put on women from day one. You know, it's a lot to get over and I think it's a lot to get over and when I think about women running for office I just applaud them from the jump because it's such an undertaking to kind of disrobe yourself from all of that baggage sometimes.

Lauren Schiller:                  You're obviously very qualified to write this book with the multitude of experience that you've had and your role at Emily's List. What were some of the attributes that successful candidates have had that you've observed and that you could call out?

Kate Black:                            Sure. Well I think when you look at successful candidates, and especially I think one of the great things about women candidates specifically is that a successful candidate listens. They understand that to hear from voters and to hear stories and to internalize those narratives and then communicate effectively outward so that they reach people where they are but also share a story that's powerful. That intake and output is not an easy thing and it's certainly not an easy thing to sit quietly sometimes, especially if you're running for office and everyone's kind of waiting for you to speak. It's not an easy thing to sit quietly and hear, and really listen to a constituent share a problem or share something that they're passionate about. Even more so I think we can get kind of bogged down in some [wonkyness 00:28:04] and some policy and that sometimes feels good because that's our home base. Especially if you're running for office you're probably been thinking about all of these issues really seriously.

Kate Black:                            Sometimes I think the most effective candidates are the ones that can talk to you like a regular person and really break down some of these hard to understand issues in a way that I think meets them where they are but also doesn't patronize or talk down to anybody. You know, in fact, I think, Stacey Abrams is a fantastic example of this. But she's also, I think, a self described introvert. I think for any woman maybe listening to this who is thinking, "Oh, Kate's just talking about someone who's outgoing" or "I need to be really gregarious or be able to talk to anybody. That's just not me." I would tell you some of the best candidates, I think, are actually introverts. Where they are able to kind of absorb from other people, kind of sit with their own selves but also then communicate so well and emote and connect with people in such a way that when you're campaigning is such a powerful force to watch and to see.

Kate Black:                            Ultimately I think that's how we win elections is when our own stories kind of fill in the gaps between where voters see us and where they want to be ultimately. I think when you think about that quality, I think women candidates have that so innately because we have so many stories and we have so many narratives. It's so easy for us to connect. This was such an important piece of the book for June and I that we broke it into two chapters. It's called, "How Does This Work in my Real Life Part 1 and Part Deux." Part One really focuses on your professional career and it focuses on money and time. There's a question in there about thinking about what office you want to run for, do you have to quit your job and what are the implications of that? What is the implications on your financial security? What does it look like for your long term career plan? Are you able to take a leave of absence? Have you talked to your boss about this?

Kate Black:                            All of these questions are valuable questions that we kind of lead the reader through so that she's doing this exercise. The next thing that we think about is our time and so to that end, June and I both do a time log. For two weeks we map out every hour and you see it in the book. You see June's and you see mine. We're very different people. She wrote hers out in a narrative, mine's in an Excel spreadsheet. It's fine. Turns out though once you do that exercise you see kind of where your time is going and you're able to assess. "Is there time I can give away maybe for a campaign? And is there time that I need to keep sacred?"

Lauren Schiller:                  One of the many things that I love about "Represent" is that you share the stories of a number of women who ran for office and won and one of the ones that really stood out to me, which I was hoping you would tell the story of Stephanie Murphy, the congresswoman from Florida and how she came to the country, how she attained the position. Could you share that? I just think it's so poignant at this particular moment.

Kate Black:                            Sure, so Congresswoman Murphy was elected in 2016 and her story is so powerful. She was born in Vietnam and her family fled when she was just a baby. They were in a dingy of sorts, they were in a boat and the boat was going to capsize and she was rescued by the Coast Guard. She came to the United States and she worked in the Defense Department, she worked in government, she worked in private practice. She and her family eventually moved to Florida and she was a small businesswoman with two children. She decided to run for office, I would say, five or six months before the general election and she decided to take on a man who had been in office for decades at that point. She was late getting into the race and everyone was like, "Who's this person?" And "Can she raise the money?" And "He's been in for office for so long" and "It's Florida. That's tough. Is she going to be able to flip the seat?" She won.

Kate Black:                            She won with such, I would say, great support from a whole host of different sectors of the voting populace. Her story is one that I think when she goes to Congress, she tells it so well because it connects with both our, kind of, patriotism that we all feel for this country but she was literally saved by people serving in the military. So her connection to not only public service is so real you can kind of, it's almost palatable when she talks. To be able to take on an incumbent who had been in office for so long and to bring in someone so new and so fresh to the public life is really, really exciting.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and just, I mean, just her story of coming over. Fleeing a country that was under duress. Her family was under duress and being rescued and then making her way into some of the highest ranks of the US government to do more good for more people. I mean, just the full circle of it is just incredible.

Kate Black:                            It really is and I think it's a great example of one that, you know, we highlight so many different women in the book and one other I'll just share, too, is Lisa Murkowski, the Republican Senator from Alaska. Lisa Murkowski is a woman whose been in office for some time but she actually lost a Republican primary for reelection when the Tea Party was kind of hitting its stride. Instead of being like, "All right I lost that primary" she said, "I'm going to run as an independent and I'm going to do a write in campaign." Now imagine having to not only run on a different party line but also you now have to tell people, and teach people, how to spell your name correctly so that you get enough votes that count that are legitimate to win a general election. That's exactly what she did.

Kate Black:                            You know, one of her first campaign ads was literally showing people how to spell "Murkowski" and sure enough, she won that election and she's still serving in the Senate today and doing some tremendous things. Some tremendous bipartisan things, in fact. I love that we share so many different kind of origin stories of women in the book. Hopefully that shows women who pick it up and are inspired to maybe read it, run themselves or give it to someone else that they can see a little bit of something that sparks their interest and sparks maybe their own identity so they can take this on for themselves.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah and I mean, throughout the book you've got this running checklist and these are the 21 things that you need to check off in order to know that, I mean, literally to check the boxes. Make sure that you've got everything from your vision, you know, down to how you're going to get support, down to meeting the requirements for entering the race, you know? Everything is on this list but there's only 21 of them so that feels actually manageable and of course, some of them are going to take more time than others, right?

Kate Black:                            Of course.

Lauren Schiller:                  What was the thinking about structuring this, you know, the book around a checklist?

Kate Black:                            Well we wanted women to feel ... first of all, we love checklists. I mean, who doesn't?

Lauren Schiller:                  Me too.

Kate Black:                            I write things on my to do list just so I can cross them off.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yes, thank you. You're my people.

Kate Black:                            Yes, yes. I also know, you know, sometimes I think we need the details and with running for office there are many steps and there's, you know, to your point some things take longer than others but to make it feel as accessible as possible, why not make it a checklist, you know? As we started kind of building out our chapters we realized like, we're asking them to do things. We're asking them to kind of check things off of a list. Why not have that list build as the book goes through so that the final chapter you're able to really cross off that final thing on your list and looking back over it you'll see how many things you've accomplished. You know, you've written your pitch, you've figured out how much money you need to raise, you've identified where you're going to run.

Kate Black:                            You've also, what I love too about the final thing is you've named at least five other women who you're going to ask to run and give this book to. That's such a powerful closer to the list and I hope that there's women out there who are writing in additional lines because, you know, surely we can all name more than five women we should ask to run but hopefully you can add names as you go because I think that's incredibly powerful to have that kind of checklist in hand. Also know that it's never done because there's always women to ask to run.

Lauren Schiller:                  Yeah. I have to ask you a question that is sort of like a personal question because a few years ago I was asked to run for City Council in my town and I was super busy at the time. It didn't seem like the right time, I was very intrigued by the idea. I was completely overwhelmed by the idea and ultimately I decided not to do it but one of the things that was in my way is that I was imagining myself sitting in these highly bureaucratic meetings where everything moves super slow and as a person who likes to get things done, as you said, "Women get things done when they get into office." That for me was actually a barrier, thinking about the slow moving bureaucracy and procedural rules and things like that that happen in meetings where decisions do get made. Can you say anything to assuage my concerns on that front?

Kate Black:                            Well I don't think it's unreasonable. I don't think it's unreasonable, especially when you have people coming from all different types of backgrounds where they are getting things done or they're seeing change happen around them. Going into government can sometimes seem like, "Hmm, is this really the answer?" So what we do in the book is actually encourage women to think about what is the thing that fires them up? What is the passion that they're being moved by? What are they Tweeting about a lot? What is always coming up at Thanksgiving dinner? Use that as fuel to drive your campaign forward because that ultimately could be your platform. That could be small things. It could be getting a stop sign put at the end of the block so your streets are safer. It could be big things like healthcare or social security or taxes.

Kate Black:                            Reminding yourself about what you're passionate about, number one it's going to help you get through some of those meetings and some of the bureaucracy but two, you know, surely in government things take some time because you're trying to serve a whole host of the public with some of these big decisions. The beauty of being in elected office, too, is that you have a microphone. I would say to you, "You're going to be in meetings and you're going to be fighting for change and some of that change is going to feel bureaucratic and slow and granular and maybe not as exciting but the best thing is you get to leave that meeting and you have an audience and a microphone and a platform from which to speak about the things that you care about. It can be what happened in that meeting but it could also be what that meeting represents to your constituents and I would just carry that with you because there's going to be days when it's hard and there's going to be days when it's not fun but reminding yourself about why you're doing it and about the community that you're serving and about the issues that motivate you, that's what's going to propel you forward and keep you in the game."

Lauren Schiller:                  I will take that to heart, thank you.

Kate Black:                            Well hopefully you do run. I mean, you've got to do it.

Lauren Schiller:                  We'll see. I've got a different platform, right? We're talking on it right now, right?

Kate Black:                            Mm-hmm (affirmative). Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Lauren Schiller:                  We'll let's- [crosstalk 00:39:29]

Kate Black:                            I will say though-

Lauren Schiller:                  Oh yes?

Kate Black:                            I will say, one of the big things that we did in one of the chapters which is about qualifications and feeling qualified, we did look at all of the professions of the 115th Congress, so what they did before they were elected and radio host is on there. There are radio hosts in Congress. You, too, could do it.

Lauren Schiller:                  All right. More checkpoints, more data points. The last question I have for you, I hope this makes you chuckle a little bit, is what's the best advice that you've ever been given about how to self promote?

Kate Black:                            Oh my gosh, so in the book, this will make me laugh. In the book we have a whole thing about self promotion and I was in LA at the time, June and I, we would get together for these multi day kind of writing sessions. They were all day sessions and I knew we were coming in to do kind of a self promotion kind of conversation and chapter and I had just gotten off of doing an interview with a friend who hosts a radio show and I said to June very proudly, "I know how to self promote. Here it is" and I showed her a Facebook post that I had done. It was, June's reaction was literal laughter. I think a belly laugh might even be more descriptive. She was just like, "Kate, this is not self promotion" and she's right because the post that I had done was not about me at all. In fact, it was about the subject matter and was about my friend's show and it was not about me as being an expert at all but really just about the fact that I was on a thing and June ...

Kate Black:                            We included this story in the book number one because it, I think, shows that we all get it wrong sometimes but two, how hard it is to self promote. June gave me some excellent advice and we reworked it and I ended up deleting the post and re-posting a new post which put myself front and center and my achievement front and center, which is not easy to do. In terms of the best advice that I've ever gotten around self promotion certainly boasting about it and then being proven wrong is not a great feeling and you definitely learn from that. But you know, I think for women self promotion is just such a hard thing sometimes because not only are we sometimes taught to be uncomfortable with boasting or bragging and feeling a little squishy about that and feeling, "Are we imposters? Are people going to judge us differently?"

Kate Black:                            You know, I think about when I see men talking about their achievements and I've certainly been in enough rooms where I've heard men talking about something that they've done and I've thought to myself, "Well if he can do it why don't I do it more?" I think it takes a mentality and just a moment of pause to think, "Why am I not sharing this awesome thing that I've just done? Is it about me? Is it about other people? Is it a combination of both?" Sometimes you just got to swallow it and just do it and the more that you do it the better it will feel and also the more that you'll get such great responses from people when they hear about the cool [00:42:51] that you're doing. I mean, that's so special and so [00:42:53].

Kate Black:                            I don't know if I have a great piece of advice but I would tell you definitely sharing what you think is self promotion with your coauthor is a great way to learn what is not self promotion but also trying to do it as much as you can, as frequently as you can is a great way to just kind of get comfortable with trying that on and eventually it won't feel like you're trying it on but rather it's a part of your [everydayness 00:43:18]

Kate Black:                            [00:43:22]

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and this is Inflection Point and while we're talking self promotion, I'm excited to tell you we're trying something new on the program and that is to provide a toolkit of concrete actions you can take on the issues that matter to you. Stay with us.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:43:43]

Lauren Schiller:                  I'm Lauren Schiller and we're trying something new on Inflection Point, which I'm very excited about and that is to provide an ongoing series of toolkits in our show, from our guests, with concrete actions you can take on the issues that matter to you. We created these toolkits so that when you only have a few minutes or so you can get the inspiration and information you need to do something. Today's Inflection Point toolkit, my guest Kate Black, the author of "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World" tells us how we can get more women in office. Whether you're deciding to run or supporting someone who is.

Lauren Schiller:                  When it comes to getting more women in office what are three things you need to know before you decide to run?

Kate Black:                            A couple things that I would say to anybody who's listening who's thinking about running, first things to do. Number one is to figure out what issue fires you up the most. You probably have been posting about this on social media, you might be talking about it all the time with your friends, it might come up a lot at Thanksgiving. Understanding and identifying that issue is the first thing to do because it's eventually going to be your platform.

Kate Black:                            The second thing I would say is start showing up. You know, identify how you're representing your community now. It could be looking at are you attending city council meetings? Have you asked for your local leaders to have one on one meetings with you? Are you going to protests? Are you going to community events? There's so many different ways that you can show up for your community. It's important that you start kind of being present because eventually if you run for office you're going to ask your community to show up for you and so it's important to be there for them from the start.

Kate Black:                            The third thing I would say is start talking to people. You don't need to know when you're running or what you're running for but running for office is not a solo activity. It is a team sport and it takes a village. Start telling people you want to run. This could be a small group at first, it could be your partner, your family, maybe your close friends. Our words have powerful, make powerful promises to ourselves when we say them aloud. When you say, "I think I'm going to run for office one day" that not only makes a promise for yourself but it also brings in a whole collection of folks into your journey along with you.

Kate Black:                            those are the first three things I would tell anyone who's thinking about running for office. Those are the first three things I would say to start doing today.

Lauren Schiller:                  So say someone has made the decision to run. What do they need to know?

Kate Black:                            For someone running for office the things that I would tell you to do first are identify the requirements that it takes to run for the specific seat you're looking at. You know, for Congress that means you have to have been a resident and a certain age to run. For local and state offices there might be different requirements around residency or how old you need to be to run for that specific seat. Don't confuse qualifications and requirements. You are qualified today. Your experience is your expertise. Remember that you are enough and that men are not waiting so it's time for you to step up. The other thing I would tell you to do is really think about your social media presence. Do an inventory, go through every Tweet, every Facebook post, every Instagram video. Take time, be one with your computer because you need to go through everything. Once you've done that it's time to identify, do you need to have a campaign page and a private page?

Kate Black:                            Eventually I think the answer is probably "yes" because the folks that you first talked to when you set up your Facebook account in college, are they the same people you need to communicate your policy platform with and about events and fundraisers for your campaign? Maybe, but maybe not, so think about having a separate profile and public persona for your campaign that's different from your private pages.

Kate Black:                            The last thing I would say is think about the community of people around you and how you can involve them in this new journey. That could look like your sorority, your alumni association, a professional network, your daycare pickup circle. It could look like the softball league down the street that you show up for on every other Saturday but invite those people into your journey. They can be volunteers, they can maybe host fundraisers for you, they could give you money. They also might be some of your staff. Do you know someone who's really great at organizing events? They can maybe be a finance director. Do you know the person down the street who knows everybody's business and where everyone lives? That person might be a field director. They might be there with you knocking on doors because they know who's home when and where.

Kate Black:                            These are a few first steps I would take to running but you've already done the most important thing, which is deciding to put your name on the ballot in the first place.

Lauren Schiller:                  What could we all do to support other women who are running if we ourselves are not?

Kate Black:                            This is a great question. It's one that we get a lot. The final chapter of the book is actually titled, "How Do I Support Other Women?" Voting for them is a great, cost free way to support other women running for office. You can donate your time, your money, your expertise to their campaigns. You can also help her in other ways. June and I like to say that behind every woman candidate is really another woman trying to help her get it all together. If you have a friend or you know a woman who's running, don't wait to be invited to offer help. Just step in. That could look like making sure that there's Diet Coke's in the fridge and coffee in the morning. It could look like picking up the dry cleaning or walking the dog or taking her to get her hair done or you know, inviting her to go out for a walk just to blow off some steam. Whatever it is, don't wait to be invited, just start showing up for her.

Kate Black:                            The last thing is asking her to run. We know it takes women multiple times to ask them to run for them to step up. We need to be recruited intentionally and thoughtfully and so if you know a woman in your life, and I invite you to think really about all the women in your life and consider them. Whether they're domestic worker, sex workers, teachers, bus drivers, cashiers, bank tellers because we still have those, maybe radio hosts. All of the women in your life can run for office and I ask you to consider them and share with them this book.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:51:02]

Lauren Schiller:                  That was Kate Black, who just published the book, "Represent - The Women's Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World" that she wrote with June Diane Raphael. I've got a link to it on my website at

Lauren Schiller:                  Now for some news. When you go into the podcast feed you'll see our episodes broken up into two segments: one for when you have a little more time and one for when you're, well, on the run. Whether it's running for office or running an errand. That way if you want to hear again what Kate Black says are the most important things you can do when running for office or supporting someone who is, it's all right there in a tiny little package. Find Inflection Point episodes in any podcast app or go to

Lauren Schiller:                  This episode is dedicated to my friend Stephanie Walton, who stepped up to run for office in Oakland, California and to all the other women who are raising their hands. You can do it and we support you. This is Inflection Point. I'm Lauren Schiller and this is how women rise up.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:52:21]

Lauren Schiller:                  That's our Inflection Point for today. All of our episodes are on Apple Podcast, RadioPublic, Stitcher, Pandora, NPR One, all the places. Give us a five star review and subscribe to the podcast. Know women leading change we should talk to? Let us know at While you're there, support our production with a tax deductible monthly or one time contribution. When women rise up, we all rise up. Just go to We're on Facebook and Instagram at Inflection Point Radio. Follow us and join the Inflection Point Society, our Facebook group of everyday activists who seek to make extraordinary change through small daily actions. Follow me on Twitter @LASchiller. To find out more about today's guest and to be in the loop with our email newsletter, you know where to go:

Lauren Schiller:                  Inflection Point is produced in partnership with KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco NPRX. Our community manager is Alaura Weaver, our engineer and producer is Eric Wayne. I'm your host, Lauren Schiller. This is Inflection Point and this is how women rise up.

Lauren Schiller:                  [00:53:44]


Kate Black

Kate Black

The F*ck Mom Guilt World Tour LIVE! With Katherine Goldstein and Hana Baba

The next generation of working mothers is not going to accept the status quo. Unpaid labor, the mental load, and harsh self-judgment could be a thing of the past. But only if we stop feeling guilty and start getting angry, says Katherine Goldstein, creator and host of The Double Shift podcast. We debated these issues and more with Hana Baba, of The Stoop podcast and KALW in this live audience taping from the Betabrand Podcast Theatre on the Bay Area Stop of the Fuck Mom Guilt World Tour.

Support our production with a tax deductible donation and we’ll keep bringing you the stories of how women rise up!

Hana Baba, Lauren Schiller and Katherine Goldstein

Hana Baba, Lauren Schiller and Katherine Goldstein

The Reality of a World Post Roe v Wade-A Panel from The Bixby Center for Reproductive Health

In the first half of 2019, the Guttmacher Institute reported that state legislatures across the South, Midwest and the Plains enacted 58 abortion restrictions, 26 of which would ban some, most or all abortions--even before most people know they’re pregnant.

On the brighter side, 93 new laws that expand reproductive healthcare were enacted, including 29 that expanded access to abortion, including NY, Vermont, Maine and Nevada.

In the midst of this maelstrom, in June, 2019 I attended a panel put on The Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health--about the threats against Roe v. Wade and what it means for patients.

I found the speakers and the content really helpful in wrapping my arms around the state of affairs and wanted to share it with you---so the Bixby Center gave me permission to do just that.

The speakers you will hear include Stephanie Toti (who successfully argued Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in front of the Supreme Court) and now runs the Lawyering Project whose mission is to strengthen protections for reproductive rights under U.S. law and promote reproductive justice), Erin Grant (of the Abortion Care Network, an organization that supports independent abortion providers) and Renee Bracey Sherman (of the National Network of Abortion Funds which works to remove financial and logistical barriers to abortion access).

This panel discussion, “meeting the needs of patients post-Roe v. Wade”  was moderated by Dan Grossman a professor at UC San Francisco and the director of their research program Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, which you will hear referred to as ANSIRH.

The Bixby Center is part of University of California San Francisco, and they research, train and advocate to advance reproductive health policy and practice worldwide through an evidence-based approach. For those of us who use birth control, let’s give them a shout out. Their researchers have played a part in testing every contraceptive method currently approved by the US Food and Drug Administration.

Meeting the Needs of Patients Post-Roe v. Wade was produced and sponsored by Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health, Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health, Center of Excellence in Women's Health and Institute for Health Policy Studies. 

Here are some resources to help you stay engaged: 

Organizational websites:

o   Abortion Care Network

o   ACCESS Women’s Health Justice

o   Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health

o   All Options

o   Bixby Center for Global Reproductive Health

o   Innovating Education in Reproductive Health

o   Institute for Health Policy Studies

o   The Lawyering Project

o   National Network of Abortion Funds

o   UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences

o   UCSF National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health 

Support Inflection Point production with a tax deductible donation at

Author Jennifer Weiner Writes a Radical Beach Read

The times, they are a’changin’. This week on Inflection Point, I talk to author Jennifer Weiner, about her newest bestselling book “Mrs. Everything”.

The story is loosely based on Jennifer’s own mother, Fran, who got married, had four children and ultimately came out as a gay woman after Jennifer and her siblings were out of the house. Spanning two sisters’ lives from the 1950s to the night of the 2016 political election, the story raises questions about who is really making women’s choices about our own lives...are we? Or our system? How did we get where we are, and how do we move on from here?

Jennifer shares the facts behind her fiction, what it takes to write a good sex scene, what hasn't changed since #metoo started and how the personal becomes political. We spoke at Women Lit, a program of the Bay Area Book Festival on June 22, 2019 in Berkeley, California.

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Weiner

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Weiner

How to Fight Like A Mother-Shannon Watts, Moms Demand Action

There have been over 200 mass shootings in this country since 2009. Shannon Watts, the author of a new book: Fight Like a Mother, is the founder of Moms Demand Action, a group that is using research, data, and a little bit of “nap-tivism” to throw their weight and money behind political candidates who are willing to put better gun control laws into action. The kicker? They’re winning. In the last election, they outspent even the NRA. Their goal: make our country safer.

Join us this week for a look at why our kids are subjected to violent and traumatizing active shooter drills, and what it takes to pass sensible gun legislation. We talk about the root cause of gun violence, who takes the brunt of the violence when background checks get lax, “losing forward” and the very real and positive change that is starting to take place as we come up to the 2020 elections.

Photo courtesy of Shannon Watts

Photo courtesy of Shannon Watts

Eve Ensler and the Radically Transformative Power of Apology

Stress warning: This episode contains conversation about sexual assault and violence.

This week on Inflection Point, I talk with Eve Ensler, award-winning playwright of The Vagina Monologues, about her new book “The Apology”, in which she writes in the voice of her father to apologize to herself--from him-- for the years of sexual and physical abuse he perpetrated upon her.

You will be blown away by Eve’s resilience, by her self-knowledge, by her strength of character, and by her deep well of compassion and empathy. Her ideas for political and social reform, as well as her profound insights into the human soul, make her a true radical, and radically empathetic.

This week, we discuss the anatomy of a true apology, and the transformative power that apologies hold for the apologists themselves and their recipients. We discuss why punishment never leads to rehabilitation. We discuss the roots of abuse, and how we can start shifting the paradigm.

A must-listen for anyone frustrated at the lack-luster apologies precipitated by the #MeToo movement. A must-listen for anyone infuriated by the Anita Hill and Christine Blasey Ford cases. A must-listen for anyone who needs to apologize for something. A must-listen for anyone who has ever needed an apology, but didn’t get one.

I also spoke with Eve in October of 2016, about a year before the #MeToo movement took off. Her words were prescient and I encourage you to listen to that conversation too.

If this conversation is important to you, please support our independent production with a tax deductible donation. Inflection Point is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization.

Photo courtesy of The Commonwealth Club of California. Photo by James Meinerth

Photo courtesy of The Commonwealth Club of California. Photo by James Meinerth

Photo courtesy of Eve Ensler

Photo courtesy of Eve Ensler

Paid Leave For All - Katie Bethell is Seizing the Moment to Fight for Radical Policy Change

America is one of only two countries in the world where you can be fired for taking a day off in order to give birth (let that sink in for a moment). As it stands, paid leave policy varies from company to company, state to state, but on a national level, there is no policy in place, no minimum requirements or baseline standard that applies to everyone.

And it’s not just about moms—this lack of policy also has greater repercussions for how we define a family, in a political sense, and the relationship between the family and the workplace--men included. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand are both bringing attention to these issues, running on platforms of universal childcare, and paid medical and family leave.

Katie Bethell, founder and executive director of Paid Leave for the US (PLUS), joins us this week to give us the alarming stats, talk nerdy government logistics, and offer some extremely practical advice on how we can use this particularly potent moment to push for political change.

Join us this week on Inflection Point for a look at radical change in action, one decision at a time.

Inflection Point is independently produced and we rely on support from listeners like you! Make a tax deductible donation to support our production today at Thank you!

Photo courtesy of Paid Leave for the US

Photo courtesy of Paid Leave for the US

The End of Human Trafficking May Begin with Radical Empathy - Julia Flynn Siler

In 19th Century San Francisco's Chinatown only 1 in 10 people were women, and most of them were forced into prostitution, trafficked by criminal tongs. In today’s episode, meet the Scottish sewing instructor Donaldina Cameron and the women she collaborated with and helped escape from sex slavery between 1870 and 1930. This week on Inflection Point: Julia Flynn Siler talks about her new book The White Devil’s Daughters: The Women Who Fought Slavery in San Francisco’s Chinatown. Prepare yourself for bomb scares and bubonic plague quarantines, court cases and crowdfunding efforts. Join us in what is, ultimately, a conversation about standing up to a broken society, and how women can help women rise up.

Recorded at the Bay Area Book Festival in May 2019 as part of their Women Lit programming.

Photo courtesy of Julia Flynn Siler

Photo courtesy of Julia Flynn Siler

Universal Basic Income is a radical idea. In Stockton, CA they've started to experiment.

This week, we hear about a radical plan to end poverty: Universal Basic Income. Lauren talks to the team behind an experiment with Guaranteed Income taking place in Stockton, CA the one-time foreclosure capital of America where 1 in 4 people live below the poverty line. Featuring conversations with Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, Natalie Foster of the Economic Security Project, and the co-principal investigators on this experiment: Dr. Amy Castro Baker of the University of Pennsylvania, and Dr. Stacia Martin West of the University of Tennessee.

Guaranteed Income and Universal Basic Income—where money is given with no strings attached represents a radical shift in the way we think about the social contract. Could this be what a Feminist Economy looks like?

Special thanks to Mia Birdsong for providing voices of Stockton residents, from her “More Than Enough” Podcast.

Additional thanks to First Lady of Stockton, Anna Tubbs and Sukhi Samra, Executive Director of SEED.

Learn more about the Stockton Demonstration.

Learn more about the Magnolia Mother’s Trust, another project of the Economic Security Project.

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs  Photo courtesy of Cassius M. Kim

Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs

Photo courtesy of Cassius M. Kim