Amazing Moms: Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner
Amazing Moms: Joan Blades and Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner, authors of The Motherhood Manifesto: What America's Moms Want and What To Do About It and founders of MomsRising, which serves as a clearinghouse for issues for mothers.
Joan's Family: Husband: Wes Boyd, married 21 years; Kids: a 13-year-old and a 20-year-old
Kristin's Family: Husband: Bill Finkbeiner, married for more than 14 years; Kids: Conner, 13, Anna, 11
Joan Lives In: Berkeley, California
Kristin Lives In: Kirkland, Washington
Why Joan And Kristin Are Amazing: Unexpectedly, after Kristin Rowe-Finkbeiner gave birth to her son, she had to leave her job -- giving up her income and her health insurance. Fortunately, she says, her husband's job was able to provide the family with insurance. But having been raised by a single mom, her own situation got Kristin thinking about how unplanned family situations could lead to serious problems.
"It made me look at what was happening with mothers in America," Kristin says.
Her thinking resulted in the 2004 publication of "The F-Word: Feminism in Jeopardy: Women, Politics and the Future." The book attracted the attention of Joan Blades, a co-founder of MoveOn.org.
"I got to the data point that there is this profound bias against mothers and everything clicked together. Mothers are severely disadvantaged in the workplace," Joan says. "How can a feminist movement succeed without fixing that? Why are there so many women or children in poverty? Why are so few in leadership?"
The women decided to collaborate and, working from two different states, co-authored "The Motherhood Manifesto: What America's Moms Want and What to Do About It," which was released on Mother's Day 2006. A companion website, MomsRising.org, launched as the book hit the shelves and has since attracted more than one million people and some 90 national organizations looking to help resolve the issues the authors put on the table, such as paid maternal/paternal leave, open and flexible work hours, realistic and fair wages and paid sick days.
One of their most memorable public-awareness campaigns was the Mother's Day 2009 "Mother of the Year" news clip, a humorous, customizable video viewed by more than 12 million people. This year, they've upped the ante with a "Mother of the Decade" award video.
The two authors practice what they preach. "We are not punching the clock," Kristin says about work schedules at MomsRising. Work is done when and where it can be done, based on their employees' family schedule. "We found that we are very productive in that way and it helps balance work and family."
One of their biggest concerns is the wage gap. Women without children make 90 cents for every dollar men earn yet married mothers take home only 73 cents to every dollar men earn. Worse still are single mothers, who make about 60 cents to every dollar men make.
"There should not be a choice of taking care of your child or having food on the table," Joan says. "Or to have mothers going back to work days after giving birth because they can't take the time away from work."
Joan's Sister-in-Law Kate Munn Says: "I'm a mom and a school librarian for a K through 5 school. I know that women need the support to provide for their kids. I'm just thankful that someone is out there helping kids by helping their moms."
Kristin's Friend Mary Olivella Says: "The work of MomsRising and Kristin is nothing less than calling for a sea change in how our country views and values the work of mothers. In 2010, it is not widely known that mothers continue to face hiring and wage discrimination and there is a full range of workplace policies and cultural norms that limit the ability for mothers to both be successful in their careers and ensure the health and well being of their children."
Recognition: MomsRising received the Breast Cancer Fund's 2009 Hero Award for its work to help pass the first federal ban on phthalates in toys. In 2007, The Motherhood Manifesto won the Ernesta Drinker Ballard Book Prize.
Joan's Guilty Pleasures: She's a member of the chocolate club. "I love dark chocolate," she says with a laugh that seems more about pleasure and less about guilt.
Kristin's Guilty Pleasures: She loves blue Gatorade and playing soccer. "I started playing at the age of 38 for the first time in my life."
Joan's Best Advice: "Really enjoy your kids. Whatever phase they are in, enjoy the parts you like about that phase."
Kristin's Best Advice: "It is important for everyone to realize that their voice can have an impact on public policy and that it doesn't take a lot of time out of their busy schedule to do so. You can have an impact with just one or two minutes a week on the issues that matter to you."
Related: Amazing Mom: Liz Snyder
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