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Among Media Trailblazers

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Last week I had the honor of sharing the stage, so to speak, with a group of incredible women -- all of whom were recipients of Women's eNews' 21 Leaders for the 21st Century awards, many of whom leverage the media in just the dynamic way we advocate at Paley.

Carol Jenkins, for example, had a 28-year broadcast career that included working for WNBC, ABC, WOR and WNYW, an Emmy and such choice assignments as covering the national political conventions and the release of South African hero Nelson Mandela from prison. She actually came out of retirement to be the founding president of the Women's Media Center because, well, when Gloria Steinem calls, you answer.

Gloria Steinem also catalyzed the work of another one of my fellow awardees, women's advocate and philanthropist Elizabeth Colton. "When my daughter was 4 years old, I set out to find a place where, as she grew older, she could connect with her identity, power and potential as a young woman, honoring both women's history and contemporary issues," Colton told Women's eNews. She sent a letter to Gloria Steinem about this vision and received the response that no such place existed. So Colton set out to search for a place that had the potential to make this a reality. Today the International Museum of Women amplifies the voices of women worldwide via online exhibitions, history, art and cultural programs that educate, generate conversation and build community.

Another recipient, Deborah Santana, just returned from Kenya, where she narrated and co-produced the award-winning documentary Girls of Daraja, celebrating an all-girls secondary school in East Africa. Watch a short here:

Santana is also the founder of Do a Little, a nonprofit donor-advised fund that serves the needs of women in health, education and happiness.

Deborah Tolman, another awardee, has devoted her academic career to research and writing about the way in which society understands, views and responds to women's sexuality, particularly teens, but she doesn't let her scholarship stay in the academy. She's co-founded a movement of young women talking back to and making their own media called SPARK. Just last week, they collaborated with an amazing 14-year-old named Julia Bluhm who collected and delivered 78,000 signatures to Seventeen magazine, petitioning them to feature one photo spread each issue without the use of PhotoShop. Talk about leadership for the 21st century!

Mine was the last award handed out, so I kept my remarks brief. In essence, I said a version of what I always say, that every woman who wants to step into her true leadership has to have three things: information -- useful and accurate, communication -- global and mobile, and most important, a posse. Mine was widely represented at this awesome annual event, and those who weren't there in person were there in spirit. Women truly are changing the face of media and I'm honored that my work through the Paley Center was recognized as a committed part of the transformation.