If you opened your own business, what would it be? 

My fantasy business: to design and sell a line of “Kitty Kat Porches” and accouterments. A Kitty Kat Porch is window fitting for indoor cats to enjoy fresh air from the safety of the house or apartment. Seems so peaceful. I envision creating matching Kitty Kat curtains and pillows, in various design schemes to match the space.

 

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese” changed me a few years ago when I first discovered it. That poem is what I would tell my younger self. An excerpt: “You don’t have to be good. . .You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves. . .”

 

Exceptional Skills- 

Writing. Not sure I’d call myself exceptional but it comes naturally to me and I like to learn more about the craft of writing.

 

What makes you feel fulfilled? 

My husband, daughter and son. My brothers and parents. My family.

 

When asked to describe yourself, what’s the first word that pops into your mind? 

This is hard!

 

Favorite Book- 

I’m a slow reader and my eyes are bad, yet I love to read. Some favorite books include:

 

Lit by Mary Karr

My Unsentimental Education by Debra Monroe

Beyond Katrina by Natasha Tretheway

Hunger by Roxane Gay

Beloved by Toni Morrison

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

At Home in the World by Joyce Maynard

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (audio book is especially exceptional because an actor captures the vocal slang of the time)

 

What makes your heart race? 

Propaganda. Getting behind at work. Mean stuff.

 

Organization or cause near to your heart- 

As one lucky to have worked with many orgs and causes, I have an ever growing list of things I care about. I guess I’m a natural born bleeding heart. :-) One cause I’ll mention is maternal health care. When I was pregnant with our first child (1996) I was working with an international aid organization and my eyes were opened to lack of opportunities faced by many women around the world -- in so many realms but especially for women in poverty. As I faced complications with my own pregnancies that were easily remedied through high quality health care, I began to consider how other women managed and how could I help leverage greater understanding. I have tremendous respect for long-standing organizations such as Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service. And, of course, I think what happens at my workplace is truly incredible. Hope and healing cutting through much heartbreak.

 

What keeps you up at night? 

For some reason I often wake up in the middle of the night thinking about my parents, grandparents and ancestors with such gratitude I could burst. Especially I think of my mother and grandmothers and the opportunities they were denied, and yet their resilience. I try to fall back to sleep by breathing in thank and breaking you, over and over. Sometimes it works.


What is a belief you once held but no longer do? 

I used to think I had to be productive to be valued. I no longer do. My favorite activity is doing nothing. Social researcher Brene’ Brown helped me understand this. I am one of the millions of people mesmerized by her Ted Talks on the power of vulnerability.

 

What are you interested in connecting with other women about? 

I am so excited for the creativity and confidence I see in other women. It took me so long to own my power and I see young women blasting into the world with so much to give. I love it! I hope to connect about my cause at hand -- Women Helping Women, equal access to high quality mental health services -- as well as listen and learn from others. It’s amazing to live in a time and place where women can support one another, instead of compete and seek approval in falsehoods. Thank you for this opportunity.

Terri Speirs

Director of Development & Marketing

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