equipoise news volume 20

equipoise news volume 20 fall-winter 2012

Where Do YOU find joy?

As we enter a season of joy and gratitude, I find myself asking, “What is the source of my joy? To whom or what do I owe my gratitude?”

We are completing another year of growth at The Equipoise Fund. Our programs now include Womentum, Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, Raising Girls and Thrive—each unique, each wonderful—reaching different yet inclusive audiences in the pursuit of energizing, enriching and encouraging vision, voice and visibility for the women and girls of Wyoming. Little by little, step by step, I believe we achieve our mission’s work each day.

I am amazed when I’m in a room filled with Womentoring graduates, or see the number of women candidates who started their journeys with Leap into Leadership, or hear thanks from caregivers who are empowered by the speakers hosted by Raising Girls and Thrive. I am filled with joy at these moments.

I am filled with gratitude for all of the “family” of Equipoise who work to make this joy possible: Jean, Lee, Melissa, the RUSHA’s, the Caucus Leadership Group, Carrie, Annie, Sarah, Katie, Charlie, Bonnie, Amy, Heidi, Alisan, Jen, Kelly, Mike, Charley, Susan, our partners, and our friends . . . Thank you!!!

Blessings to you all, and may you savor your own joy and gratitude!

Mickey's signature




WYOMING WOMEN’S LEGISLATIVE CAUCUS Increases Women’s Participation

According to the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, more than 360 women appeared as candidates on ballots in Wyoming in the 2012 general election. This includes candidates for state, county and local positions. Thirty percent of candidates on Wyoming ballots were women, including ten Leap into Leadership graduates.

Deb Sofield
Deb Sofield is scheduled as keynote speaker for the next Leap into Leadership event in Cheyenne, January 17th and 18th, 2013.

Whether you ran for office this year, plan to in the future, or just want to improve your leadership skills and statewide network of women, please plan to join the bipartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus for Leap into Leadership January 17 and 18, 2013, in Cheyenne. Deb Sofield, who is an award-winning speaker and executive speech and presentations coach, will be our keynote speaker.

As someone who creates and trains world-class public speakers, Deb Sofield has personally coached scores of executives and elected officials to tap into their natural abilities to become capable and motivational speakers who can deliver a message with lasting impact. She is a skilled politician and savvy businesswoman who won campaigns for public office while running her own successful business for more than two decades.

Event details and registration will be available in early December. Please contact Melissa for more information about Leap into Leadership 2013 and attendant sponsorship opportunities: info@wyowlc.org.

Founded in 2006, the bipartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus is a project of The Equipoise Fund. For more information, please visit www.wyowlc.org.

RAISING GIRLS Raises a Crowd

Peggy Orenstein
Peggy Orenstein onstage with Sarah Long of Thrive and Carrie Kirkpatrick of Raising Girls.

Hours after a packed Women-in-Leadership luncheon featuring Peggy Orenstein, Raising Girls and Thrive co-hosted the award-winning author for a more in-depth conversation about issues surrounding growing girls. With a crowd of 150 community members at Jackson Hole High School, Sarah Long (Thrive) and Carrie Kirkpatrick (Raising Girls) visited with Ms. Orenstein about topics ranging from gender identity to self-esteem to Disney princesses to parent-teen relationships to media literacy. Ms. Orenstein’s extensive journalistic research and knowledge of contemporary sociological studies, coupled with her gift for storytelling, offered a fascinating context in which to understand the “new culture of girlhood.” Detailed event notes will be available on the Raising Girls website in December. A warm thank-you to all the community members who participated at our evening with Ms. Orenstein! For more information, please visit raisinggirlswyo.org.

Thrive logoTHRIVE Launches in Jackson!

Thrive, the newest project of The Equipoise Fund, has officially launched programming in Jackson. Using education, awareness, training and advocacy to target teenage girls, Thrive strives to promote healthy relationships with self and others by tackling issues like body image, sexuality, relationships and social pressures. Since officially partnering with The Equipoise Fund in the spring of 2012, Thrive has been busy getting programs and events underway, which include:

  • Nutrition and Body Image Workshops: Thrive has been conducting workshops in high school health classes, as well as with Dancer’s Workshop members. Nutritionist and therapist Sarah Long (Thrive’s co-founder) also presented a training for doctors, health practitioners and therapists in July, on eating disorder prevention, recognition and treatment. We plan to continue to provide similar presentations in the future.
  • Focus and Discussion Groups: Reaching out to young girls, Thrive held a series of focus groups to learn firsthand about the myriad of stressors confronting teenager girls. Not only did they provide greater insight into the issues that all young girls deal with, but the groups helped explore the issues directly affecting girls in our community.
  • Community Events: Co-hosted with Raising Girls, “The New Culture of Girlhood” marked the official kick-off event for Thrive. Award-winning author Peggy Orenstein spoke to teenage girls and their parents and caregivers, discussing topics related to gender identity, self-esteem, media literacy and sexuality versus sexualization, in hopes of raising awareness and encouraging dialogue about what it means to be a girl today.

Thrive is in the process of planning events for 2013, including more workshops related to specific topics (relationships, transitions, resilience and “perfect” pressure). For more information about their latest events, please visit: thrivewyoming.org or facebook.com/thrivewyoming.

Kathy Clay
Kathy Clay is Jackson’s first female Fire Marshal.


Womentum, a program of The Equipoise Fund, is growing exponentially. Womentum is currently hosting its largest cohort yet, with 30 mentors and mentees participating in the program. Eight current and past Womentoring participants were featured in the Jackson Hole News and Guide’s “Jackson Hole Woman” special section in October, which featured Fire Marshal Kathy Clay on the cover, the first female fire marshal in the state of Wyoming.

Womentum also hosted their annual Women in Leadership luncheon on November 15, featuring best-selling author Peggy Orenstein, who discussed leadership as a way of life. The Year of the Woman should come more frequently than every 20 years, said Orenstein, and she urged women in the audience to keep the momentum, or rather the “womentum,” going.

Peggy Orenstein at the Women in Leadership luncheon

Orenstein’s speech focused on the challenges women face, starting with the “illusion of balance,” that series of interlocking dilemmas and internal contradictions that keep women today hovering in a state of flux. “Women want to do it all,” said Orenstein, which is not the same as having it all. Following her speech, Orenstein took questions from some of the nearly 150 luncheon guests. Attendees asked about leadership as a way of life, the choices mothers face, how others judge those choices, and how women break through these and other barriers.

Womentum is dedicated to harnessing women’s intellectual, creative and charitable spirit to effectuate meaningful social change for women. Visit www.womentumwyo.org for more information about Womentum, Womentoring and the Women in Leadership Luncheon.


New Intern Haylee Hunsaker Has Already Traveled the World

The WYWF/University of Wyoming Gender and Women’s Studies internship position is a grantee of The Equipoise Fund. We are proud to welcome Haylee into this dynamic partnership, impressed with both her accomplishments and her energy:

Haylee Hunsaker
Haylee Hunsaker

I am the new intern at the Wyoming Women’s Foundation for the fall of 2012. I was lucky enough to be accepted as WYWF’s intern because of my interest in issues concerning women and children. Such interests have guided me ever since I watched my older sister volunteer for an orphanage in Ecuador.

I am grateful to say that I too was able to volunteer at the orphanage in Cuenca, Ecuador in 2010. After learning about my sister’s life-changing experience there, I set a goal to travel to Ecuador myself. After a few years of working and saving and working and saving, I was accepted by OSSO (Orphanage Support Services Organization) for a 2½ month volunteer program.

While in Cuenca I served at multiple orphanages and worked with kids of all ages and was introduced to a whole set of issues that I had not previously known existed. One issue that sticks the most in my mind concerns differing cultural beliefs about the healthiness of children. For example, when I worked in the infant room, I was told to put the bottle of formula in the crib with the infants, to dress them as warmly as possible (despite the lovely 70-80 degree weather), and to put as much sopa (soup) and colada (a sweet, yogurt drink) as possible in their mouths at set feeding times. Ecuadorians feel that the more plump and warm a child is, the healthier they are, too (and who can say different is wrong?). Of course, such a routine was not only significant to Ecuador, but it was also significant to an orphanage in which there just wasn’t time enough to pay attention to every child’s special needs. Thus, the bottle went in the crib, the babies only had so much time to consume as much sopa and colada as possible, and it was better to dress them warmly from the beginning so as not to risk any child getting sick. Because of this, some of the infants were delayed physically as they were too plump to roll over, crawl, sit up, etc., and because there just weren’t enough adults for necessary stimulation. Although I have only listed one issue, I learned of many, many more—an education that only sparked my interest in more international social, cultural and public health issues.

Upon returning home I declared social work and international studies as my areas of study. I have since been to India and to Ethiopia for more service, learning and volunteer programs. A short summary of the things that I learned from these trips include the issues of: female infanticide; HIV/AIDS; early hysterectomies; the U.S.’s relations with other countries and how that may negatively or positively impact a cross-cultural relationship; sexism; the sex trade; issues concerning philanthropic efforts; and issues of orphanage life. I have also come to know and understand my own culture, beliefs and biases better through my experiences with others, and I am eternally grateful for such amazing opportunities for learning and growth.

As you can imagine, my desire to help change these issues and to advocate for the many women and children who have suffered inside and outside the U.S. has only been heightened. I am excited for my internship here at WYWF and hope that I can better learn what issues beset the women of Wyoming so as to be a better service provider and advocate for the women here.

The Equipoise Fund is proud of you, Haylee! Onward!

WYWF photo
Rebekah Smith (l) and Richelle Kienath (r ) of Wyoming Women’s Foundation congratulate Dr. Joseph Henry, executive director of the Shoshone and Arapaho Head Start Program.


Wyoming Women’s Foundation recently completed its annual grant cycle. WYWF granted $48,000 to 11 organizations. The largest of these was a $10,000 grant made to the Eastern Shoshone and Arapaho Birth-Five Head Start Program. This award will be used to further the education and contribute to the self-sufficiency of women and girls in the Head Start classroom.

WyWF is the lead funding source of change for women and girls in Wyoming. The tradition of equality for women commenced in Wyoming with the right to vote in 1869; the first female Court Bailiff in 1870; the first female Justice of the Peace in 1870, the first women to serve on a jury in 1879; and the first female Governor in 1924. WyWF continues this tradition, supporting self-sufficiency for women and girls in Wyoming in the 21st Century.

— Other grantees include:
— Boys and Girls Clubs of Cheyenne
— Bright Futures Mentoring Program
— Eastern Shoshone & Northern Arapaho Birth-Five Head Start
— Evanston Child Development Center/Children’s Learning Foundation
— Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming
— Joey’s Fly Fishing Foundation
— Laramie County Community Partnership
— Sublette County 4-H Afterschool Programs
— Sublette County Sexual Assault Family Violence Task Force
— Women’s Self Help Center
— Wyoming Family Home Ownership Program (WYFHOP)

To learn more about WYWF programs, please visit their Web site at www.wywf.org.


Wyoming Council of Women's IssuesIt’s been a busy fall for WCWI, packed with action supporting women and girls. In October, the organization cohosted, along with Central Wyoming Community College and Women and Men in Science, its seventh annual Young Women’s Career Fair in Riverton. Then, on November 16, WCWI presented its annual Summit Award to CLIMB Wyoming for policies and practices benefitting its employees and their families. The award was presented during the Wyoming Business Alliance Conference in Cheyenne.

Come February, WCWI will host a news conference at 9 a.m. in the Capitol Rotunda in Cheyenne, to release the results of its third major Women’s Issues Survey. A series of questions on Wyoming’s gender wage gap were included in this 2013 survey. Previous surveys were published in 2004 and 2009. The public is invited.

Also in February, WCWI will hold its winter quarterly meeting at 9 a.m. on February 23 at the Wyoming Business Council offices. The meeting will focus on the evaluation of past activities and planning for the future. Officers for the period 2013—2015 will be elected. The public is invited to this gathering as well.

For more information on all their activities, visit the Web site at www.wyomingwomenscouncil.org.

Our heartfelt congratulations to all the women who have entered the political arena recently. Your courage and determination are humbling and inspiring. Special congratulations to those who will serve this year and until the next election cycle.

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