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Women Who Stand

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This month, Stand for Children's Tyler Whitmire has launched our Women Who Stand series: interviews with inspirational women in education.

Some of the interviews in particular have stuck with me.

Superintendent Karen Williams talks about growing up African-American in an all-white school district in Arizona. Her parents didn't go to college, but they were determined that she would. Williams told Tyler about one summer day in her childhood that stayed with her forever. Her aunt, who required Karen and her siblings take regular trips to the local library and to come over to her house for grammer lessons, started to notice that Karen was skipping some library visits and grammar lessons. So one morning, Karen's aunt woke her up very early and took Karen along to her job. "All day, I watched her clean bathrooms and mop floors and make beds," Karen says. "At the end of the day I remember watching the sweat drip off her chin as she starched shirt after shirt. She looked at me and said: 'I do this. With an education, you won't have to.'"

Representative Rhonda Fields from Colorado got involved in politics after her son and his fiancée were shot and killed the day before he was scheduled to testify in a murder trial. Working with her representative at the time, Fields helped establish a witness protection program in Colorado so other families wouldn't lose their children like she had. Now, she herself is in the Colorado house, and has been a major supporter of the Colorado READ Act to increase literacy and is a major advocate for gun control. Her advice to other women who want to make positive change? "Get out there and do it!"

Yashira Rodriguez moved to Phoenix from Mexico, and realized that many of her fellow immigrants seemed adrift and depressed. So she started holding classes for women in her house. In a month, they grew from three attendees to 98. Now, she's reaching even more parents volunteering as a parent educator with Stand University for Parents, Stand's classes to support parents in getting more involved in their children's education.

I recommend checking out all the interviews on our blog. I guarantee you will be inspired by these amazing leaders.