equipoise news volume 22
|equipoise news volume 22||winter 2013|
In celebration of the tenth year of The Equipoise Fund, my wonderful friends (and co-directors) Jean, Lee and I spent several lovely days at Miraval Spa, in Tucson, Arizona. Miraval is not your ordinary spa . . . it has been my refuge and retreat for many years, and it’s the place I go for “tune ups” of body, mind and spirit. To be there in the company of my dearest friends was a rare treat, and the perfect way to reflect upon the friendship and love that has gone into The Equipoise Fund.
The time all of us—and our larger Equipoise family—have spent together defining, refining and declaring our mission for equipoise has been one of the greatest gifts of my life. To you, Jean and Lee, thank you. You are truly the wind beneath my wings, and I feel that every day.
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Also in honor of our tenth year, our newsletter takes on a little more celebratory nature. We wanted to give voice to the many people who have been instrumental in carrying forward the vision of The Equipoise Fund. Enjoy their contributions, their insights, their stories. Then go forth and establish your own invigorating equipoise!
Tracy Lamb of Laughing Lamb Design
Really? 10 years? When I first met Mickey she had a name for what she wanted to do, and she had an intent; that of leveling the playing field for women and girls in our Wyoming world. AND I heard the strength of her Grandmother’s voice in her passion to do so. I will remember that afternoon always. Thank you Mickey, for inviting me to the adventure. All the best, Tracy
In October 2010, Carrie Kirkpatrick dreamed of hosting a community conversation entitled “Raising Girls.” In order to secure free meeting space at Teton County Library, she needed a nonprofit sponsor, so she asked Mickey Babcock if Equipoise would be willing to help. Mickey agreed and was impressed with the event’s turnout and content. She saw the synergy between Carrie’s concept and The Equipoise Fund’s mission—to energize, enrich and encourage the vision, voice and visibility of the women and girls of Wyoming—so she invited Carrie to create an official program under the Equipoise Fund umbrella. She then suggested that Carrie and marketing/events consultant Annie Riddell partner up. The rest is Raising Girls history!
Raising Girls exists to inspire thought and dialogue that help girls thrive. Since its 2011 inception, this Equipoise program has provided a forum in which Jackson Hole parents, educators and caregivers can discuss research-based best practices for raising healthy, confident girls. The topics of conversation are driven entirely by community feedback and suggestions. Raising Girls has tackled topics such as father-daughter relationships, safe dating practices, emotional resilience, media literacy, self-image, sexuality and early sexualization, and how mothers can guide a healthy concept of womanhood.
In creating a rich discussion forum, Raising Girls frequently taps local experts—e.g., physicians and mental health professionals—to speak on specific topics and answer community members’ questions. In addition, at least once a year the program brings a national expert to Jackson Hole to provide a heightened level of insight into ongoing local conversations. Raising Girls is pleased to have established lasting relationships with all the experts it has brought to town, including Common Sense Media board member Lycia Carmody; pediatrician and author Meg Meeker, MD; as well as award-winning investigative journalist Peggy Orenstein. As a result of her experience with Raising Girls and the Jackson Hole community, Ms. Orenstein plans to conduct research for her next book here!
Raising Girls is thrilled by community response to its programming. Public feedback repeatedly affirms the value of the conversation forums being offered. One local father wrote the following note to Raising Girls:
“I want to offer my most sincere and heartfelt thank you for the work you put into the fabulous program last night. I found myself all day thinking through the many wonderful perspectives and ideas that came out—for our daughters, our community and my own life. I also want to thank you for all you are doing to create this invaluable community resource. I believe your organization is at the heart of what defines and shapes this community, providing the venue that allows the younger generation to enter into dialogue, to hear what adults think and believe, to share and become the community we all seek. How else does a community shape itself? You sure have the right people doing the right stuff, and I am grateful for all you do. I look forward to your next program, and all the ones after that!”
Inspired by feedback like this, Raising Girls has forged ahead with more thoughtful and action-provoking programming for the 2013-2014 school year! Stay connected at raisinggirlswyo.org for event information and resources.
Lee Duncan, Board Member, The Equipoise Fund
Ten years ago, Wyoming transplant Mickey Babcock had a vision and a dream: of women helping women. She created The Equpoise Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to raising the vision, voice and visibility of women in Wyoming.
Through networking, consolidation of resources, and education, Wyoming women are making a difference in their communities. Whether it is learning how to start a business, educating parents on how to support their children against bullies, or learning how to be an effective voice in politics, women are working together for a stronger voice on issues that matter.
The Equipoise Fund is an amazing group of women who have inspired me for a decade.
Congratulations, women of Wyoming, on 10 years of supporting each other, and on making a difference in your communities!
The idea for Womentum began in September 2003 with a desire to engage young women in Jackson Hole in philanthropy in some meaningful way. The following year, our founders wrote a grant proposal to The Equipoise Fund to help us launch, which is excerpted here:
“As young women, we oftentimes feel we cannot be effective philanthropists because we lack the resources to make substantial financial contributions to the causes we support. We do, however, possess the talent and energy to act for meaningful social change. In recognition of our potential, we aspire to establish a network of women dedicated principally to ‘action philanthropy.’”
The Equipoise Fund supported that initial grant, supporting our launch in pursuit of five objectives: mentorship, leadership, education, advocacy and community service. Since that time, Womentum has connected with hundreds of women in and around Jackson Hole, through public events such as the Women’s Conference on Sustainability and our annual Women in Leadership luncheon as well as our unique women’s mentoring program, Womentoring.
Womentoring was created in response to the fact that women are neither running for elected political office nor heading businesses in numbers comparable to their male counterparts. What’s more, Wyoming women are paid less than two-thirds of what men are paid for the same work. Started in 2006, the Womentoring program boasts of four alumnae who have been elected to local and statewide political office, more than a dozen executive directors of nonprofit organizations, and numerous entrepreneurs and small business owners.
A recent Womentoring alumna wrote that the greatest takeaway of her experience was, “. . . the power of a group of women learning, teaching, listening and loving one another in such a myriad of ways. The dinners were so magical, and I went away from each one feeling stronger and more alive.”
This fall, Womentum launched the eighth Womentoring program, with 32 amazing mentors and mentees willing to share their time and talent, but more importantly, eager to connect and grow.
Heidi Hackler/Dolphin Design, web designer for The Equipoise Fund
Ten years? Wow, where does the time go? It seems like just yesterday Mickey asked me to build her first website. Leaps in technology and three re-designs later, it’s been a great team to play on over the years. Thanks Mickey, I love being your “Web Gurl”!
Women in the Wyoming Legislature have attempted to form a caucus more than once. In 2006, the effort succeeded with indomitable founder Representative Rosie Berger, twenty-four female legislators eager for a network, and Mickey Babcock of The Equipoise Fund.
The nonpartisan members of the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus prioritized leadership development for themselves and other future women leaders from across Wyoming. To achieve these goals, members of the Caucus participated in gatherings and workshops and hosted an annual Leap into Leadership event for Wyoming women. The leadership event has been so successful it has been held every year since 2008.
The Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus quickly found allies in Nancy Freudenthal, Wyoming’s first lady at the time, and with the Wyoming Women’s Foundation. While planning the first Leap into Leadership event, the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus also invited partnerships with the Equality State Policy Center and the Wyoming Business Alliance. Former state legislator Clarene Law said that when she found out the women’s caucus had partnered with those two groups, on different sides of the political aisle, she wanted to be part of our event, and she was: Law spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives to celebrate Women’s History Month.
That first Leap into Leadership event was a sell-out success, and every event since has been as well, reaching more than five hundred Wyoming women and men. And in 2010, our partners at the Wyoming Women’s Foundation asked us to work with them to offer local Leap into Leadership workshops across the state. So with their lead, we have partnered to host Leap into Leadership workshops in Evanston, Gillette, Cody, Laramie, Sheridan and Riverton in the past three years. All told, we’ve probably reached close to 1,000 people directly with the statewide and local Leap into Leadership events–not to mention the countless lives those people have touched. Leap into Leadership graduates serve on school boards, county commissions and city councils, as well as in the Wyoming legislature, on statewide boards and in the State Auditor’s office.
The nonpartisan Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus recognizes the strength and success that come through partnerships, and we thank The Equipoise Fund, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation and so many other partners, sponsors and friends who have contributed to the success of our organization and our events. We hope to see all of you at Leap into Leadership 2014, on February 27th and 28th in Cheyenne.
The Wyoming Women’s Foundation (WYWF) was founded in 1999 with a challenge grant from the Chambers Family Fund to the Wyoming Community Foundation. Chambers Family Fund’s priority was to build a permanent resource for women and girls in Wyoming, where the family’s oil business previously operated. In 1999 WYWF employed a half-time staffer from the Wyoming Community Foundation.
Ten years ago, when the Equipoise Fund was born, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation was just four years old. That year, 2003, WYWF granted to 14 different Wyoming organizations helping women achieve economic self-sufficiency and providing opportunities for girls. We had come a long way.
In 2004, WYWF’s advisory board provided funding to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research to support the research and publication of their Status of Women in Wyoming report. By 2008, Richelle Keinath had joined WYWF as its full-time executive director. That year, the stock market plunged, and WYWF’s endowment was diminished. WYWF forged ahead, though, adding leadership and wage training as a new focus. Leap into Leadership was established by the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, and in 2011 WYWF partnered with them to add two local trainings a year as an annual offering to help women attain elected and career leadership positions. The following year, 2009, WYWF returned to grant making and retained the value of leadership training as well.
Under Richelle’s leadership, WYWF has continued to grow its capacity to serve women and girls in Wyoming. The staff increased from 1 to 1.5 to 2 during her time. Most recently, in 2013, WYWF has taken on a new tradition to help women achieve economic self-sufficiency and provide opportunities for girls through the Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt.
The Wyoming Women’s Antelope Hunt was developed as a platform for mentoring and developing camaraderie between women, and it finally happened this October! Hunting is a long-standing Wyoming tradition that presented a wonderful opportunity to honor our state’s cultural traditions and foster skills that could help women feed their families, an important part of economic self-sufficiency. Thanks to generous donors, this event raised funds to support our work during the rest of the year, as well as helping women learn and practice skills that could serve them well.
For the hunt, Mickey Babcock, founder of the Equipoise Fund, sponsored a graduate of the CLIMB Wyoming program, Crystal Mayfield. Crystal harvested one antelope at the event and she and her daughter will be enjoying Crystal’s first pronghorn harvest all fall and winter. Crystal’s hunt was captured by Wyoming Public Radio reporter Irina Zhorov and aired on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered evening news program.
In total, 33 women hunters gathered at The Ranch at Ucross in northeast Wyoming for that snowy hunt in October, seven of them first-time hunters. All but two of the hunters harvested an animal despite abysmal weather conditions, and each took home an award for participation, including awards for getting closest to her prey, taking prey with a single shot, and the Teddy Roosevelt Award for persevering despite conditions. Silent and live auctions and a celebratory dinner rounded out the event.
Ten years: it makes our heads spin! Seems like just yesterday we were sitting at Pearl Street Bagels in Jackson, discussing The Equipoise Fund and establishing the first of what we’d come to call our “trampoline” sessions. Mickey was there, of course, and Melissa Turley, hot on the heels of a town council position. I was there, taking notes and asking questions. Keith, recently free of two decades worth of involvement in the corporate world, was there, mapping out how Mickey’s Web site would work, how the brand would manifest, how a descending hierarchy of web pages could carry her quite worthwhile message forward.
We all nodded along, jotting on paper, considering.
Mickey closed her eyes, hmmmed over her cappuccino, and was silent. “I think,” she said finally, “that I want something more along the lines of . . . a trampoline.”
The table fell silent. Brows furrowed. Lips took on that curious I-have-no-idea-what-you’re-talking-about smile.
“I want my nonprofit,” Mickey continued, “to be light and zippy, to be the dandelion fluff that gets blown across the field. I want to create a rising tide and lift all boats. I want the best ideas to rise to the top. I want a trampoline.”
And so, a trampoline was born. One that is open to the participation of any person who is willing to respect women and the many talents and insights they offer. That trampoline has spun across Wyoming in an RV, filming the stories of the women who run ranches, doctor babies, teach children, work the oil fields, fly the planes and in the offices of the capitol building. It has located women working tirelessly to right the wrongs of our society. During these ten years thousands of women have benefitted from Equipoise Fund programs, and they’ve found their voices and a courage they might not have known they had in them. They have been thanked and honored and learned to believe in their own power. They have mastered the art of negotiation, of perseverance, and of not taking “no” as the final answer. They have learned to reach out to one another, regardless of political persuasion, and find solutions that no one had considered.
Yes, Mickey has her trampoline. And it bounces as high as the bright blue Wyoming sky.
In Memoriam for MJ Klyn and Patricia McCarty
With gratitude and sadness we note the passing of two dear women in my life: MJ Klyn and Patricia McCarty. Both women were “glass ceiling breakers” in their fields of banking and university administration, and were true role models for me. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders, MJ and Pat/Mom . . . and thank you for opening the doors for so many women to follow. Godspeed to you both. With love, Mickey.