Ready to Launch
Santa Monica, California.
Helping women launch careers in politics and public service.
Ready to Launch equips women from historically marginalized communities with the opportunities and support to learn, grow, and launch careers in government and political spheres. Their fellowship program helps women aspiring to work in fields of public service to find and secure internships. Through these internships women gain hands-on experience, leading to a more diverse representation in government – to ensure that government offices and policy makers are prepared to understand and address the needs of all our communities.
1| Ela Bhatt
Ela Ramesh Bhatt is an Indian cooperative organizer, activist and Gandhian, who founded the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India in 1972, and served as its general secretary from 1972 to 1996. Bhatt is a part of the international labor, cooperative, women, and micro-finance movements and has won several national and international awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1977), Right Livelihood Award (1984) and the Padma Bhushan (1986).
Annie “Bessie” (b. September 3, 1891; d. September 25, 1995) and Sarah “Sadie” Delany (b. September 19, 1889; d. January 25, 1999) the daughters of a schoolteacher and America’s first Black Episcopal bishop. The Delany sisters were able to enjoy educational privileges denied to many Black students. While their father became the vice principal of St. Augustine’s College, their mother helped to run the school as well. Thus, the sisters and their eight siblings all received college educations in an era where most Black students were considered lucky to receive high school diplomas. Having faced racial adversity from a young age, the sisters were not passive about their dislike of the restrictive Jim Crow laws. Bessie Delany, the more rebellious of the sisters, often defied segregation laws; in one case drinking out of a public ladle specifically for Caucasians. After finishing college, the sisters moved to New York City, where Sadie became a science teacher in public schools and Bessie opened an office for dentistry in Harlem. In 1957 Bessie and Sadie defied another racial limitation by moving to a white suburb.
St. Teresa of Calcutta (b.8/25/1910 d.9/5/1997)
Mother Teresa of Calcutta founded the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic religious congregation which has over 4,500 sisters and was active in 133 countries. The congregation manages homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis; soup kitchens; dispensaries and mobile clinics; children’s-and family-counseling programs; orphanages, and schools. Members, who take vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, also profess a fourth vow: to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor”. Teresa received a number of honors, including the 1962 Ramon Magsaysay Peace Prize and the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
Gertrud Heinzelmann (b.6/17/914 d.9/4/1999)
Gertrud Heinzelmann was a pioneer in the struggle for equal political rights and the ordination of women in the church. She studied law and politics at Zurich University, although she would have studied theology had it been possible for women at the time. She was active in securing the vote for Swiss women and for women’s equality in the Catholic Church. She wrote and published a petition to the Preparatory Commission of Vatican II, a worldwide first, which provided support for women having equal access to the diaconate and priesthood, although it opened her up to much abuse. She continued to write and publish on needed reforms. In her last article she asked, “How many generations of women must become old or die before real progress will take place concerning women in the Roman Catholic Church?”
Give Us Bread and Roses
“Give Us Bread and Roses” is the phrase commonly associated with the successful textile strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, during January–March 1912, now often known as the “Bread and Roses strike”. The slogan pairing bread and roses, appealing for both fair wages and dignified conditions, found resonance as transcending “the sometimes tedious struggles for marginal economic advances” in the “light of labor struggles as based on striving for dignity and respect”.
Jane Addams (b.9/6/1860 d.5/21/1935)
Jane Addams, known as the “mother” of social work, was a pioneer American activist/reformer, social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women’s suffrage and world peace.
Kiran Bedi (b.6/9/1949)
Kiran Bedi is a retired Indian Police Service officer, social activist, former tennis player and politician who is the current Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry. She was the first woman to join the Indian Police Service in 1972.
Nativity of Mary of Nazareth
Louise Thompson Patterson (b.9/9/1901 d.8/27/1999)
Louise Thompson Patterson was a part of the Harlem Renaissance. When she first went to New York, she pursued social work, but eventually became a central figure in the literary movement. Though Thompson organized a number of protests and opened one of the premiere Harlem salons, she became best known for her close friendship with the author Langston Hughes. Both admired the Soviet system of government and organized a group of twenty-two Harlem writers, artists, and intellectuals to create a film about discrimination in the United States for a Soviet film company. After the project fell through due to lack of funding, Thompson and Hughes returned to the United States to found the Harlem Suitcase Theater, which presented plays written by Hughes and other Black writers and featured all-Black casts.
Lillian Wald (b.3/10/1867 d.9/1/1940)
Lillian D. Wald was an American nurse, humanitarian and author. She was known for contributions to human rights and was the founder of American community nursing. She founded the Henry Street Settlement in New York City and was an early advocate to have nurses in public schools. She was involved in the founding of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
Remember world-wide terror victims.
Ngoan Le is the founder of the Asian American Institute in Chicago and was the first Executive Director of the Vietnamese Association of Illinois. She is working to help the homeless and provide complete housing for all in a ten year plan.
Antonia Pantoja (b.9/13/1922 d.5/24/2002)
Dr. Antonia Pantoja, educator, social worker, feminist, civil rights leader and founder of ASPIRA, the Puerto Rican Forum, Boricua College and Producir. Recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1961, Pantoja also founded ASPIRA (Spanish for “aspire”), a non-profit organization that promoted a positive self-image, commitment to community, and education as a value as part of the ASPIRA Process to Puerto Rican and other Latino youth in New York City. ASPIRA now has offices in six states, Puerto Rico and has its headquarters, the ASPIRA Association, in Washington, D.C. It has provided approximately 50,000 Latino students with career and college counseling, financial aid and other assistance, and is today one of the largest nonprofit agencies in the Latino community. In 1963 Dr. Pantoja directed a project of the Puerto Rican Forum that resulted in the establishment of the Puerto Rican Community Development Project (PRCDP), funded by the federal War on Poverty.
St. Catherine of Genoa (b.1447 d.1510)
Saint Catherine of Genoa is a saint and mystic, admired for her work among the sick and the poor and remembered because of various writings describing both these actions and her mystical experiences.
Shirley Graham du Bois (b.11/11/1896 d.3/27/1977)
Shirley Graham Du Bois was an American award-winning author, playwright, composer, and activist for African-American and other causes. In later life she married the noted thinker, writer, and activist W. E. B. Du Bois.
Mary Beth Edelson (b.1933)
Mary Beth Edelson is an American artist and pioneer in the feminist art movement deemed one of the notable “first generation feminist artists.” She was also active in the civil rights movement. She has created paintings, photographs, collages, murals, and drawings. Edelson is a printmaker, book artist, photographer, creator of performance art, and an author. Her works have been shown at museums such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian American Art Museum, and the Museum of Contemporary Art.
St. Hildegard of Bingen (b.9/16/1098 d.9/16/1159)
Hildegard of Bingen, O.S.B., was a German Benedictine abbess, writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, visionary, and healer. She is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany. Hildegard is said to have stated, “woman may be made from man, but no man can be made without a woman.” The first known female composer.
Helen Zia (b.5/5/1905)
Helen Zia is a Chinese-American journalist and activist for Asian American and LGBTQ rights. Zia worked as a construction laborer, an autoworker and a community organizer, after which she discovered her life’s work as a journalist and writer. Zia’s time in Detroit overlapped with the murder of Vincent Chin in 1982. Zia played a crucial role in bringing federal civil rights charges against the perpetrators of Vincent’s killing and in igniting an Asian American response to the crime through her journalism and advocacy work. At the time, little existed in terms of a cohesive and organized Asian American movement in Detroit, but Zia’s journalism helped to galvanize the Asian American community to demand justice for Vincent Chin. She has also been outspoken on issues ranging from civil rights and peace to women’s rights and countering hate violence and homophobia. In 1997, she testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights on the racial impact of the news media.
LaDonna Harris (b.2/26/31)
LaDonna Vita Tabbytite Harris is a Comanche Native American social activist and politician from Oklahoma. She is the founder and president of Americans for Indian Opportunity. LaDonna Harris, President of Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), is a politician and national leader. She has been a consistent and ardent advocate on behalf of Tribal America. In addition, she continues her activism in the areas of civil rights, environmental protection, the women’s movement and world peace. LaDonna Harris has been appointed to many Presidential Commissions, including being recognized by Vice President Al Gore, in 1994, as a leader in the area of telecommunications Harris was a founding member of Common Cause and the National Urban Coalition and is a spokesperson against poverty and social injustice. As an advocate for women’s rights, she was a founder of the National Women’s Political Caucus.
Billie Jean King (b.11/22/1943)
Billie Jean King is former World No. 1 professional tennis player. King won 39 Grand Slam titles, including 12 singles, 16 women’s doubles, and 11 mixed doubles titles. King won the singles title at the inaugural WTA Tour Championships. King is an advocate for gender equality and has long been a pioneer for equality and social justice. In 1973, at age 29, she won the “Battle of the Sexes” tennis match against the 55-year-old Bobby Riggs. King was also the founder of the Women’s Tennis Association and the Women’s Sports Foundation.
International Day of Peace
The International Day of Peace, sometimes known as World Peace Day, is a holiday observed annually on 21 September. It is dedicated to world peace, and specifically the absence of war and violence, such as might be occasioned by a temporary ceasefire in a combat zone for humanitarian aid access. The day was first celebrated in 1982, and is kept by many nations, political groups, military groups, and people. In 2013 the day was dedicated by the Secretary-General of the United Nations to peace education, the key preventive means to reduce war sustainably.
To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”.
Phua Xiong came to America with her family when she was five years old, seeking refuge from the Communist soldiers of Laos, where she was born. She is now one of America’s three women Hmong physicians and treats Southeast Asian and other minority groups, taking care to make no distinction between her patients’ social and racial backgrounds. She went against traditional Hmong practice and didn’t get married until she was in her twenties, and decided not to become a housewife or solely a mother, but a doctor instead.
Mary Church Terrell (b.9/23/1863 d.7/24/1954)
Mary Church Terrell was one of the first African-American women to earn a college degree, and became known as a national activist for civil rights and suffrage. In 1909 she was a founding member of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Tertrell taught and was a principal at an academic high school in Washington, DC; and became the first Black woman in the United States to be appointed to a school board of a major city, serving in the District of Columbia until 1906. Through her father, Terrell met activist Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, director of the influential Tuskegee Institute in Alabama. She was especially close to Douglass and worked with him on several civil rights campaigns. Shortly after her marriage to Robert Terrell, she considered retiring from activism to focus on family life. Douglass persuaded her that her talents required her to stay in public life.
In 1896, Terrell became the first president of the newly formed National Association of Colored Women (NACW), whose members established day nurseries and kindergartens, and helped orphans. Also in 1896, she founded the National Association of College Women, which later became the National Association of University Women (NAUW). The League started a training program and kindergarten, before these were included in the Washington, DC public schools.
Dorothy Stang (b.7/7/31 d.2/12/2005)
Sister Dorothy Mae Stang, S.N.D., was an American-born, Brazilian member of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She was murdered in Anapu, a city in the Stang, born in Dayton, Ohio, US, but a naturalized Brazilian citizen, worked as an advocate for the rural poor beginning in the early 1970s, helping peasants make a living by farming small plots and extracting forest products without deforestation. She also sought to protect peasants from criminal gangs working on behalf of ranchers who were after their plots. Dot, as she was called by her family, friends and most locals in Brazil, is often pictured wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, “A Morte da floresta é o fim da nossa vida” which is Portuguese for “The Death of the Forest is the End of Our Lives”.
“I don’t want to flee, nor do I want to abandon the battle of these farmers who live without any protection in the forest. They have the sacrosanct right to aspire to a better life on land where they can live and work with dignity while respecting the environment.” Stang had been outspoken in her efforts on behalf of the poor and the environment, and had previously received death threats from loggers and land owners.
16th Street Baptist Church Bombing
The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing was an act of white supremacist terrorism which occurred at the African-American 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama on Sunday, September 15, 1963, Victims:
Addie Mae Collins, 14
Denise McNair, 11
Carole Robertson, 14
Cynthia Wesley, 14
Four members of the Ku Klux Klan planted at least 15 sticks of dynamite attached to a timing device beneath the steps located on the east side of the church. Although the FBI had concluded in 1965 that the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing had been committed by four known Ku Klux Klansmen and segregationists—Thomas Edwin Blanton Jr., Herman Frank Cash, Robert Edward Chambliss, and Bobby Frank Cherry – no prosecutions ensued until 1977, when Robert Chambliss was tried and convicted of the first degree murder of one of the victims, 11-year-old Carol Denise McNair. Thomas Blanton and Bobby Cherry were each convicted of four counts of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment in 2001 and 2002 respectively, whereas Herman Cash, who died in 1994, was never charged with his alleged involvement in the bombing. The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing marked a turning point in the United States during the Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Mary Brave Bird (b.9/26/1954 d.2/14/2013)
Mary Brave Bird, also known as Mary Brave Woman Olguin, Mary Crow Dog was a Sicangu Lakota writer and activist who was a member of the American Indian Movement during the 1970s and participated in some of their most publicized events, including the Wounded Knee Incident when she was 18 years old. Brave Bird lived with her youngest children on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, South Dakota. Her 1990 memoir “Lakota Woman” won an American Book Award in 1991 and was adapted as a TV movie in 1994. Brave Bird was influenced by several relatives who followed traditional practices, including her granduncle Dick Fool Bull, who introduced her to the Native American Church. During the 1960s, Brave Bird attended the St. Francis Indian School, in St. Francis, South Dakota, a Roman Catholic boarding school. In 1971 Brave Bird was inspired by a talk by Leonard Crow Dog and at age 18 joined the American Indian Movement (AIM). She participated in such historical events as the 1972 Trail of Broken Treaties and subsequent occupation of the BIA headquarters in Washington, DC. She was also part of the 1973 Occupation of Wounded Knee.
Liu Sola (b.1055)
Liu Sola was born in Beijing to a high ranking family who were once members of the revolutionary army before they were sentenced to work as farmers for twenty years for “re-education.” She is known by China’s “lost generation” (those born during or after China’s Cultural Revolution, similar to the poets, intellectuals, writers, artists and others who sought a bohemian refuge in Paris after World War One) as a bestselling musician and writer and one of their premier voices. Liu is recognized by the international community as one of the most important artists of our time and for her work promoting a more tolerant art community in Asia and especially China.
Ada Deer (b.4/18/05)
Ada Deer is a Native American advocate and scholar who was an activist opposing federal termination of tribes in the 1970s, since the “Termination Era” of the 1950s and 1960s (resulting in reduced federal oversight of Native American affairs), the Menominee tribe had been governed by a corporate body called Menominee Enterprise, Inc.. Menominee Enterprises, Inc. was controlled by a voting trust and Menominee tribal members had no shares in the corporation. Four of the voting trust members were Menominee; however, five votes were required in order for the trust to take action. In the 1960s and 1970s there was renewed Congressional involvement in rebuilding tribal infrastructure, both socially and economically.
During that time, Deer became involved in a group called DRUMS (Determination of Right and Unity for Menominee Shareholders) in opposition to Menominee Enterprise’s proposed sale of former Menominee lands. At first, Deer encountered difficulty with Wayne Aspinall, chairman of the Interior Committee in Congress, who had supported termination of the Menominee as a federally recognized tribe. She took frequent trips to Washington, but was denied the chance to speak with Aspinall. After he was defeated for his seat, Deer raised publicity as well as support for the Menominee cause.
Her efforts, along with many other Menominees, played a part in bringing the Termination Era to a close. On December 22, 1973 President Richard Nixon signed the Menominee Restoration Act. This legislation restored official federal recognition to the Menominee tribe. From 1974 to 1976, Deer served as chair of the Menominee Restoration Committee.
In 1993, Deer was appointed Assistant Secretary of the Interior by President Bill Clinton and served as head of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1993 to 1997. During this period, she was a delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Committee. From January to May 1997, she served as Chair of the National Indian Gaming Commission.
Before and after her term in the BIA, Deer served on the National Support Committee of the Native American Rights Fund. She has served as chair of the NSC and chair of the NARF board of directors.
Gabriela Silang (b.3/19/1731 d.9/29/1763)
María Josefa Gabriela Cariño Silang was a Filipino revolutionary leader best known as the first female leader of a Filipino movement for independence from Spain. She took over the reins of her husband Diego Silang’s revolutionary movement after his assassination in 1763, leading the Ilocano rebel movement for four months.
Ruth Cheney Streeter (b.10/2/1895 d.9/30/1990)
Ruth Cheney Streeter was the first director of the United States Marine Corps Women’s Reserve (USMCWR). In 1943, she became the first woman to attain the rank of major in the United States Marine Corps when she was commissioned as a major on January 29, 1943. She retired in 1945 as a lieutenant colonel.