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Inspiration From the Putting Green: A Call to Third Act Women

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I'm not a huge fan of golf; in general, my Sunday viewing tastes skew toward the news cycle, not the sports channel. Which is why I was surprised this weekend to find my eyes inadvertently glued to the screen as Tom Watson staked his historic claim to victory at the British Open. It wasn't the sport itself that drew me in, but rather, its message to the older generation: you can still make your mark on the world. You still have something to offer. Though Watson came in a close second to his considerably younger competitor, his gamesmanship compelled me to think of my contemporaries -- the Third Act Women of America.

As Jane Fonda said, Third Act Women have "a tremendous opportunity to change the world." We've got wisdom and experience on our side; we are more likely to be in positions to support ourselves financially than our younger cohorts; and we typically don't have small children to care for, which comprises the single most challenging obstacle for women to leading in the public sphere. In short, we have little stopping us from taking the next step in our leadership, besides our own fears and misconceptions about what an older woman's place is in this world.

Having advocated for women's issues over the last three decades, I chose to enter my Third Act by committing to advance women's leadership across the U.S. and founding The White House Project. To be honest, it has not always been the easiest choice -- striving for gender parity in the political sphere is a hefty task for a person of any age. Yet when I think of the thousands of women we have consequently reached, and the impact that this work is making in the lives and communities of so many, I wouldn't have authored my Third Act any differently.

Watching Tom Watson narrate his own Third Act this weekend, I was inspired anew not only in my work, but to remind Third Act Women everywhere to actively shape their lives through leadership. If you are a woman who wants to impact your community or country but think you are too old: think again. You can pull the first two acts of your life together in a rousing rally for the future of our nation, and The White House Project would like to help you get there.

We have a number of political leadership trainings still taking place throughout 2009, from this weekend's Go Run training in Colorado to fall dates in Florida, New York and Wisconsin. It is never too late to take the initiative and the lead.

The Third Act is the culmination of our story, and it is up to each of us to narrate what that tale will be.