The 162 Report: Women Making their Voices Heard 

Welcome to the new 162 Report, a monthly tip sheet from SKDKnickerbocker’s  Women’s Leadership & Advocacy Practice exploring news and issues showcasing women making a difference.

Danica & Andrea Make History  

The promise of women marching for what they believe, running for office, and changing their communities came to life on Election Day 2017. Dozens of women won all across the country at all levels of the ballot, but Danica Roem and Andrea Jenkins smashed glass ceilings in Richmond, VA and Minneapolis, MN.

Roem is first openly transgender person to be elected to the House of Delegates, and she is the second openly transgender person to be elected to a state legislature – and in January, will be the first to be seated. A former journalist who is only 33-years-old,  Roem took on Bob Marshall, a 25-year incumbent and the self professed  “chief homophobe” in Virginia’s legislature. Throughout the campaign, Marshall referred to Roem by male pronouns, refused to debate her, and his supporters ran ads that disparaged her transgender identity. Roem’s campaign rose above to focus on the local issues important to voters like traffic, teacher pay, and Medicaid expansion.  

Roem has rightly celebrated her win as one for “every person who’s ever been singled out, who’s ever been stigmatized, who’s ever been the misfit, who’s ever been the kid in the corner, who’s ever needed someone to stand up for them when they didn’t have a voice of their own.”

And, in Minneapolis, with a resounding 73 percent of the vote, Andrea Jenkins was elected to the City Council and made history as the first openly transgender black woman to be elected to public office. Similar to Roem, Jenkins campaigned on local issues important to her constituents; she talked about addressing youth violence and pointed to her experience redeveloping underserved and under-invested communities.

After her win, Jenkins told the Washington Post that her win was only the beginning: “Transgender people have been here forever, and black transgender people have been here forever. I’m really proud to have achieved that status, and I look forward to more trans people joining me in elected office, and all other kinds of leadership roles in our society.”

Read more about Roam  and Jenkins.

Kohler Refuses to Be Silenced

Inspired by the thousands of women sharing their experiences of sexual assault on social media with the hashtag #MeToo, Melanie Kohler decided to tell her story in a Facebook post. Shortly after, she got a call from her accused assaulter’s attorney. Threatened with defamation suits from Brett Ratner, a powerful and wealthy Hollywood filmmaker, Kohler deleted her post. Ratner sued anyway.

This week, Kohler and her attorney, Robbie Kaplan, sat down with George Stephanopoulos on Good Morning America to talk about why it is so important that they fight back against threats from Ratner and other powerful men. Kaplan explained that Ratner’s suit is intended to “send a message to other women… to stop other women from speaking.” Kohler added coming forward with accusations of sexual assault is scary “especially when the person that you’re scared of is more powerful than you … has more money than you.”

When asked if she was willing to go to court over this case, Kohler told Stephanopoulos: “If I have to risk my life, and what I’ve worked so hard for … to be the voice that helps other women come forward, then I am prepared to do that.”

Read more and watch Kohler and Kaplan on GMA.

America’s Feminist Filmmaker

From Elle Woods to Tracy Flick and June Carter Cash, Reese Witherspoon has played strong female characters who challenge what it means to be powerful and won accolades and hardware for doing so. In 2003, dismayed by some of the roles she was being offered, Witherspoon founded her first production company. Her production company is dedicated to bringing women to the front of their own stories and lifting up women screenwriters, directors and actresses.

Having produced box office topping and Oscar-nominated movies from Wild to Gone Girl, and Emmy-winning shows like Big Little Lies, she’s proven that the important stories of multidimensional, strong women should be brought to the screen.

As a changemaker in Hollywood, she says, “I’m ambitious, and I’m over hiding that.”

Read more here.

What Else We’re Reading

Tuesday was a historic night for progressives, women and people of color. Bustle outlines the firsts, as well as the most exciting and impactful wins.

Tina Tchen, Mrs. Obama’s former chief of staff and now partner and Buckley Sandler, writes a powerful piece in Forbes about how the future of gender equity relies on workplace culture.

Though 50 percent of new directors at S&P 500 companies are now women and minorities, Moneyish reports that it will take 100 years to close the gender gap worldwide.

Politico reports on hundreds of women in statehouses across the country stepping forward to share their own experiences of sexual assault, and New York Magazine examines pervasive and unreported sexual harassment and assault in the Capitol.

Time highlights the victory of Shalane Flanagan, this year’s New York City Marathon winner and the first American woman to win the race since 1977.