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Women Who Inspire | Share Your Story

“Makers: Women Who Make America” is a groundbreaking documentary that tells the story of women’s advancement in America over the past 50 years. It is built on an extraordinary archive of interviews with women who challenged the status quo in fields from coal-mining to medicine. Watch “Makers: Women Who Make America” online.

THIRTEEN asked New York City “Makers” what woman has inspired them. Visit www.thirteen.org/makers for more programs on women who have made an impact.

Featured Stories
  • Maria Hinojosa
    Anchor, NPR's Latino USA, PBS and WGBH
    Inspired by Michelle Bachelet and Sonia Sotomayor

    Michelle Bachelet and Sonia Sotomayor, who are firsts, speak openly about how difficult and lonely it can be to be trailblazers, yet they too own their power and lead with humility and strength.

    Read More »

  • NYCB principal dancer Wendy Whelan
CREDIT: David Michalek
    Principal Dancer, New York City Ballet
    Inspired by Marie Cecile Gibson, ballet teacher

    The one woman who has continued to inspire me as an artist and human being is Marie Cecile Gibson. She was my ballet teacher in Louisville, Kentucky, from the age of 11 to 14.

    Read More »

  • christine_quinn_150x150
    New York City Council Speaker
    Inspired by Cecile Richards

    As president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards fights to protect and promote women’s health, reproductive rights and sex education with a goal to create a healthier and safer world for women.

    Read More »

  • mariane_pearl_150x150
    Journalist and Author
    Inspired by her childhood teacher

    She took my face in both her hands and told me in a hoarse voice: “You, my girl, will become a writer.” I have never forgotten her. Her name was Odette.

    Read More »

  • pam_mackinnon_150x150
    Theater Director
    Inspired by Liz Swados and Anne Bogart

    At age nine I saw Liz Swados' “Runaways.” Almost 15 years later, having just dropped out of a Ph.D. program in political science to become a director myself, I assisted Anne Bogart.

    Read More »

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Share Your Story

What Maker do you admire? Share your story of a woman who has inspired your professional or personal life. Celebrate women with THIRTEEN.


  • BenInBrooklyn

    Rachel Carson was a big influence on me. She was a scientist who became the leading environmentalist in America with the publication of her book “Silent Spring” in 1962. The book documented the impact of chemicals and pesticides on the environment and is widely credited for helping launch the modern environmental movement. I’m an environmentalist and read the book in college.

  • Melinda Hunt

    I was inspired by my great aunt Alice Riggs Hunt who was among the women who chained themselves to the White House fence so that women could vote. She also worked as a war correspondent in Europe during WWI and had a license to operate a Steam Boat in New York State.

  • Claire Ianno

    As a young girl watching Lucille Ball, I was inspired by her seeminly tireless efforts to get out of the apartment/kitchen and get into the world.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joanna-Mandell-Tipple/646444731 Joanna Mandell Tipple

    All women who have forged ahead with integrity and courage, to be true to themselves and their life calling are inspiring to me. The one who most inspires me however is one whom I do not know and she is the first woman who said, “Enough. I am not here to fulfill anyone else’s expectations.” But without fanfare or I hope mean spiritedness, stepped out of the traditional role thereby changing the course of all women from that time on.

  • Chris Knight

    In terms of erasing barriers, I’m grateful to women like Hillary Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Diane Sawyer who set an example that encouraged me to attend a women’s college, like they did. An all-female environment creates a certain bubble, but I’m grateful that during my junior year I had to look blankly (and naively) at someone when he mentioned “typical, male-dominated majors.” Every class where I studied was full of women, and sometimes a brave man from one of the nearby colleges took part, too. I had no conception that any field of knowledge could be typical for either men or women, it was all an open playing field.

  • Jennifer Kasper

    I was fortunate to work for Nancy Slavin, SVP Marketing at Macy’s Merchandising Group, for the most formative time of my career. Nancy took a chance on me, and mentored me as I learned the ins & out of retail and brand marketing. Not only did she empower me to be a creative risk-taker, she set me an extraordinary example as a successful working mother.

  • mindzfuleez217

    Glenn Close who has broken the barrier of Mental Illness stigmatization, Rosa Parks, Helen Keller, Erin Brockovich, Lily Ledbetter, any any Woman who stands up on the behalf of others to promote Positive Societal Change…These are the Women who have character, integrity and a clear focus on moral, ethical, human concern and nothing or nobody ever stood in their way of making an impact on the world.

    • http://www.facebook.com/LaTortuguitaenAccion Carmen Acosta

      I concurred, Mujer

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  • http://twitter.com/ShannenLMurphy Shannen Murphy

    My wonderful girlfriend is a constant inspiration and reminder that what I do as a feminist /matters/.

  • Jane Getter

    I am a jazz and rock guitar player .When i was growing up, no females were playing electric guitar or any other types of music other than folk. Then I saw Bonnie Raitt who was playing blues and lead guitar on acoustic and electric guitar.
    That opened up a whole world for me!

  • Urania Mylonas

    Ms. Judith Malina, co-founder of the Living Theatre, is inspiring beyond belief.

  • http://www.facebook.com/WhitneyDMc Whitney McGowan

    That’s easy, Iola McGowan – who happened to be my Grandmother. She was the Illinois State Committee Member and Democratic Party Leader in the 80s/90s. She started her political career because she wanted to help people, but more importantly – she wanted to help her community. So often, we see things happening around us and we want to help…but we rarely do. But, she went for it and she won and the people loved her. She ran educational programs for children in under privileged communities, she created job training programs and made her voice heard in the party. The most extraordinary part? She did it all the while raising three kids. Growing up, she was the person I wanted to be, but she wanted so much more for me. She always told me I could be anything, and to never make apologies for being a woman, especially a black woman. She died recently, and even though it was really sad, it was also happy. The church was filled with hundreds of people and they all came to pay respect because somehow, someway, she helped them. It was so inspiring. (Image: My Grandmother canvasing in Chicago, circa 1980s)

  • Dorym

    My art teacher, Adele Hepbrun, who encouraged me from 5th grade through high school and helped me get into art school. No one else cared. She was my angel.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/LaTortuguitaenAccion Carmen Acosta

    “Makers” featured women whose paths and decisions were historical to the progress of women. Even conservative, opponents of feminism showed that they had to take matters into their own hands and step up to the plate to be heard and felt. Wao! Great expose of all that’s real in our lives and those who continue to inspire us and light the “this girl is on fire” torch.