equipoise news volume 19

equipoise news volume 19   spring-summer 2012


For the past 9 years, The Equipoise Fund has had a mission:

to energize, enrich and encourage the vision, voice and visibility of the women and girls of Wyoming.

And for the past 9 years, we’ve been reaching toward the best ways to accomplish those goals. We’ve held conversations between business partners, sister organizations and creative, motivated individuals. We’ve created initiatives, Womentum, Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus and Raising Girls among them. We’ve produced an award-winning documentary that has circled the globe, and we’ve held award ceremonies to celebrate phenomenal women doing powerful work. We’ve worked hard to identify those organizations that could use our help as they work toward meeting their own mandates.

Over time, we have had the chance to “incubate” some great ideas, thereby giving others the space and grace and resources—the equipoise!—to hatch their dreams. Through them, and with them, The Equipoise Fund mission continues to resonate with those who seek equality, justice and to hear their own voices as they speak for their constituents.

It is our great joy to nurture these programs, and the special women behind them. In the content below, you’ll learn about the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, now in its sixth year and still packing them in at the state capitol for their Leap Into Leadership conference. You’ll learn how Raising Girls has grown, with engaging and powerful gatherings that detail the challenges and joys of guiding our daughters to adulthood. Through the auspices of Wyoming Women’s Foundation, you’ll learn about efforts to ensure that Wyoming’s women and girls earn every bit as much support as men receive when making their way in the worlds of commerce, government and education. And you’ll learn that Don’t Fence Me In is playing to audiences in Pakistan, Norway, even Albania.

“Sometimes the slightest things change the directions of our lives, the merest breath of a circumstance, a random moment that connects like a meteorite striking the earth. Lives have swiveled and changed direction on the strength of a chance remark.”

― Bryce Courtenay, author of The Power of One

Stay tuned for more great things to come!




Don’t Fence Me In Screens at “Dinner and a Movie” for International Audience


Ms. Shad Begum sitting with Leslie Petersen, Democratic Party State Treasurer

Documentary: Don't Fence Me In
In collaboration with the Wyoming Council for International Visitors (WCIV), the film was shown at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jackson to a gathering of women from Pakistan, Spain, Albania, Russia and Norway. More than 35 locals joined them at the event.

On March 8, 2012, Ms. Shad Begum from Pakistan received the prestigious Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage, presented by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and First Lady Michelle Obama. The award recognizes women around the globe who show exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.

Dariana Boyarintseva joins Shad Begum at the event

Hosted by the WCIV, Ms. Begum arrived in Jackson with the other international visitors to connect with their American counterparts and collaborate on ways to empower women and girls worldwide. The screening of Don’t Fence Me In was a perfect complement to their local schedule—Director Bonnie Kreps attended to introduce the film and answer questions—and was an inspiration to all. They were thrilled to be able to share the film with audiences in their home countries.

The film was a perfect end to a busy week of meetings with local organizations such as CLIMB Wyoming, Womentum, Leap into Leadership, GAP!, Wyoming Workforce Development, as well as community leaders like Chief Justice Marilyn Kite, Democratic candidate for governor Leslie Petersen and attorney Kate Mead, among others.

For more information regarding the event, the visitors and upcoming programs, please contact WCIV Director Holly Pratt at 307.690.0977 or holly@wciv.org.

The film is available for purchase as a DVD from Valley Bookstore in Jackson, 307.733.4533, online at www.valleybookstore.com.


Dr. Meg Meeker

Raising Girls Continues Exciting Slate of Events


Raising Girls logoOn February 28, Raising Girls had the great pleasure of hosting pediatrician and bestselling author Meg Meeker, MD, at the Jackson Hole High School Auditorium. Over 250 parents, educators and caregivers joined an in-depth conversation on topics ranging from girls’ self esteem to goal setting to father-daughter and mother-daughter relationships. After the event, one mother remarked: “Dr. Meeker was amazing! I could have listened to her for hours.” A couple noted that: “We appreciate Dr. Meeker’s no-nonsense approach and feel we now have practical, empowering tools to try out with our girls.” Detailed event notes are available here.

Raising Girls continues its slate of events with a community conversation on The Power of “Pretty,” May 2 at 6 p.m. at the Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center. Topics of discussion will include the ubiquitous American cultural emphasis on beauty, how it impacts our girls, and the role that personal appearance plays in the social and economic choices girls make. We’ll also discuss strategies for responding to the “culture of pretty” that surrounds us.

Raising Girls asks participants to consider some light reading and/or video viewing to enrich the dialogue on May 2. A resource list is available for download here.

Questions can be directed to info@raisinggirlswyo.org.


Wyoming Women’s Foundation Prints New Money for Equal Pay Day 2012


Wyoming Women's Foundation logoThe Wyoming Women’s Foundation mobilized for Equal Pay Day, the national day of action promoting fair pay. Equal Pay Day was established by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event, illustrating the gap between men’s and women’s wages. Equal Pay Day worked out to be Tuesday, April 17th this year, the day that marks how far into 2012 women must work to earn what men earned in 2011, based on national averages. Equal Pay Day always falls on a Tuesday because Tuesday is the day on which women’s wages “catch up” to men’s wages from the previous week.

Is your work worth 23 cents less?

According to NCPE, the current national average wage gap is 23 percent; women make 77 cents per every dollar made by men. Nearly 50 years ago, in 1963, when the Equal Pay Act was signed into legislation, women earned a mere 59 cents for every dollar earned by men. Now, in 2012, even though women today are more likely than men to attend and graduate from college, men are still more likely to receive higher salaries. According to The Economic Status of Wyoming’s Working Women, a white paper prepared by Dr. Catherine Connolly for WYWF in 2011, Wyoming, also known as the Equality State, has the largest gender-wage disparity in the nation at 35 percent, meaning Wyoming women earn 65 cents compared to every dollar earned by their male counterparts.

On April 17th WYWF board members reached out in their respective communities to increase awareness and address elected officials about the wage gap. Equal Pay Day will continue to be a day of action, and we encourage everyone to become involved by meeting with your mayor, city council members, and enforcement agencies to promote effective solutions for closing the wage gap.

Learn more about Equal Pay Day 2012 at www.wywf.org


Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus Promotes Representative Government


Leap Into Leadership logoWyoming Women's Legislative CaucusThis March, a record number of women attended Leap into Leadership in Cheyenne, and nearly 20% of attendees surveyed said they plan to run for elected office in 2012. Hosted annually by the bipartisan Caucus, Leap into Leadership aims to increase women’s leadership at all levels. Caucus coordinator Melissa Turley said, “We hope to promote a more representative face of government in the Equality State.”

Women make up less than 15% of the seats in the State Legislature and less than 6% of county commissioners across Wyoming, yet women comprise 49% of the population according to the 2010 census data. And despite the fact that the median age in Wyoming is 37, only 8 of 90 state legislators are under the age of 40.

Leap Into Leadership
Kathryn Boswell (left) moderated a lunch panel of First Ladies of Wyoming at Leap into Leadership 2012, featuring First Lady Carol Mead and former first ladies Nancy Freudenthal and Sherri Geringer.

“Leap into Leadership combines training with inspiration and motivation to move women into leadership roles in their communities and our state,” says Rep. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, and chairwoman of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus.

Twenty women attended a campaign planning workshop on March 2, intended to prepare them for the 2012 filing period from May 17 to June 12. Others participated in workshops focused on social media, community and personal leadership, and messaging. Participants overwhelmingly reported they found these leadership development workshops beneficial: “I learned how to run a campaign and be inspired by women who are very engaged in the process,” wrote one.

Leap Into Leadership
Members of the 2012 Wyoming Women's Legislative Caucus, from left: Rep. Mary Throne, Rep. Norine Kasperik, Rep. Elaine Harvey, Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, Rep. Rita Campbell, Rep. Bernadine Craft, Rep. Cathy Connolly, Rep. Sue Wallis and Rep. Rosie Berger (not pictured: Rep. Kathy Davison and Senator Leslie Nutting)

At a networking dinner cohosted by the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, keynote speaker Lynda Clarizio, CEO of INVISION, shared her eight principles of leadership with the 250 attendees. She encouraged women to take charge, seek out mentoring and networking opportunities, and inspire others by being true to themselves. She outlined the family-friendly practices that she offers in her company, 65% of who are women, such as flexible hours, video conferencing and part-time schedules.

The following morning, State Auditor Cynthia Cloud hosted breakfast in her office in the State Capitol, and Supreme Court Chief Justice Marilyn Kite spoke of the need for both a legislature and judiciary representative of the people. Justice Kite pointed out that while 35% of attorneys in Wyoming are women, just 7% of judges are female, and she called on Wyoming women to wield the collective strength of both genders. “The health of our state depends on you running,” she said.

Leap Into Leadership
A Leap into Leadership attendee participates in Friday's workshops at the Laramie County Library.

First Lady Carol Mead and former first ladies Nancy Freudenthal and Sherri Geringer spoke about the opportunities and challenges each experienced as first lady of Wyoming as well as the issues important to them, specifically women and children. The program concluded on Friday with a presentation by Wyoming’s lone Congressman, Cynthia Lummis, who currently co-chairs the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. Lummis stressed that women are best qualified to discuss women’s issues, and that a representative government should look more like the people they represent.

Leap into Leadership 2012 was sponsored by Arch Coal; BNSF Railway; BP America; Brimmer Communications; Brent Kunz; Devon Energy; Exxon Mobil; Jona, Inc.; KKW Consulting; Larry Wolfe of Holland and Hart; Levin Strategic Resources; Novartis Pharmaceuticals; QEP Resources; State Farm Insurance; Tarantola Consulting; Wyoming Associations and Government Affairs Network; and Wyoming Woman Magazine.

Founded in 2006, the bipartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus is sponsored by The Equipoise Fund. For more information, please visit www.wyowlc.org or on facebook.


Womentum Urges Local Women to Turn Passion into Action


WomentumThis past November, Womentum, a project of The Equipoise Fund, attracted nearly 140 men and women to the Rendezvous Bistro for lunch and a panel of women in political leadership. Five panelists—Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, Rep. Sue Wallis, Faith Winter, Leslie Petersen and Liz Brimmer—shared their experience and perspectives in hopes they might inspire more women to enter the political pipeline.

Womentum Luncheon
Women in Leadership Lunch panelists from left: Liz Brimmer, Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, Rep. Sue Wallis, Councilwoman Faith Winter and Leslie Petersen

“Women in Wyoming have a better-than-average winning percentage when they run,” said Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff of Jackson. She pointed out that many women don’t decide to run until someone asks them to. Panelist Faith Winter, Westminster Colorado City Councilwoman and former National Field Director for The White House Project, shared how a female state senator asked her to run when she was just 24 years old. Three years later, Winter was the youngest woman ever elected in the state of Colorado, and she has since used her elected position to change the system.

Rep. Sue Wallis of Recluse, Wyoming encouraged attendees to look for opportunity and “do what you can where you are.” Wallis spoke of growing up with a father who served for 18 years in the Wyoming Legislature. Her continuing advocacy for wild horses in the West was born out of her interest in her elected position. Wilson resident Leslie Petersen, currently treasurer of the Wyoming Democratic Party, spoke of advocating for various issues as a citizen lobbyist and of working in state government before she decided she could be more effective on the decision-making side of the table. Petersen’s first campaign was for Wyoming Secretary of State in 1982. She has served as Teton County Commissioner and chair of the Wyoming Democratic party, and her most recent campaign was for the governorship in 2010.

Womentum Luncheon
Womentoring alum Rose Caiazzo enjoys lunch at the Bistro with nearly 140 other attendees at the Women in Leadership Lunch.

Liz Brimmer, former U.S. Senator Craig Thomas’s chief of staff in the 1990s, currently offers perception management and outcome strategies through her statewide firm Brimmer Communications. Brimmer encouraged attendees to express themselves, whether by running for office, applying for a state or local appointed board or forming a political action committee. “You are already involved,” she said, “by being in this room, and hopefully, by voting in every election.”

In closing, cowboy poet Rod McQueary, husband to Rep. Sue Wallis, performed the 1915 Robert Frost poem “The Road Not Taken,” excerpted here:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

More information about Womentum can be found here.


Womentoring Closes Out Our News


Womentoring Happy Hour
Current, past and potentially future mentees mingle at the Womentoring Happy Hour in January.

The first-ever Womentoring alumni event took place in October 2011: a clothing exchange attended by over thirty alumni. The event generated a lot of positive feedback, and as a result, a second alumni network event was held this past January. Alumni, current mentors/mentees and women interested in participating in future programs were invited to strengthen existing networks and create new connections.

The 2011-12 Womentoring program will culminate on May 16, 2012 with a Harvest Celebration to reap the fruits of the time, talent and energy that mentors and mentees have invested over the past nine months. Womentum congratulates another inspiring group of women, and we look forward to watching how their future steps unfold.

Womentum will invite applications from women interested in participating as mentees in the 2012-13 Womentoring program in May. Visit their website or join them on facebook for details. Womentum also invites nominations for mentors. Please send your nominations to Melissa at info@womentumwyo.org.