(BPT) - The roles and perceptions of women have greatly evolved over the last 50 years. From homemaker to executive, women have fought for their voice and advanced tremendously - altering virtually every aspect of American culture. In 2013, the women of the past continue to pay it forward and emerging leaders take the reins.
MAKERS, a multi-platform initiative that celebrates trailblazing women provides a resource to hear many inspiring and previously untold stories. Presented by Simple facial skincare and created in partnership with AOL and PBS, the site now has the first three of six stories of Next MAKERS, incredible women who have made a remarkable impact on a local level and help comprise a new generation of game changers.
Colonel Jill Chambers, Olivia Joy Stinson, Anna Rodriguez, Reshma Saujani, Emily May and Lydia Cincore-Templeton were selected from a six-week nationwide search for extraordinary women. The stories of Olivia, Lydia and Jill are now featured alongside Supreme Court Justices, Secretaries of State, CEOs, athletes, activists and entertainers on the site. Anna, Reshma and Emily's videos premiere in January. In addition to sharing their stories, the women received a $10,000 grant from Simple facial skincare so they can continue to follow their dreams and do great work in their communities.
Olivia Joy Stinson of Charlotte, N.C., plans to use the grant money to expand PEN Pals Book Club & Support Group, an organization she started five years ago at age 14 to provide support and motivation for children of incarcerated parents. The Charlotte-based organization has grown to include 25 volunteers and serves nearly 4,000 children and more than 700 adults in the southeast region of the US.
'Olivia Stinson is only 19 but she has already had more of an impact on her community than many people do in their entire lives,' Said Marlo Thomas, MAKER and actress. 'Over the past five years PEN Pals has grown from a book club into a full-on support group that serve kids as young as 5, and she hopes to take it into more communities and eventually nationwide. I have no doubt that with her vision, grit, and dedication she'll get it there.'
Next MAKERS is one piece of the evolving collection of women's stories on MAKERS.com, which currently features more than 160 groundbreaking women, including Sheryl Sandberg, Hillary Clinton and Diane Von Furstenberg. The initiative will continue to grow, adding new stories to the site on a weekly basis.
'I'm inspired daily by the stories of courageous women making a positive difference around the world and believe that by speaking up and sharing our experiences we'll motivate one another and generations to come,' says Lydia Cincore-Templeton of Los Angeles, Calif., Next MAKER and president and CEO of Children Youth and Family Collaborative (CYFC), an academic and social development organization in Los Angeles that currently serves more than 4,000 foster kids. 'I started CYFC after my work with orphans of the Hutu-Tutsi conflict in Rwanda. It illuminated the critical need children have for community support in order to survive and succeed.'
Fellow Next MAKER, Colonel Jill W. Chambers, Washington, D.C., is using her grant money to further her work with veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress (PTS). Chambers, widely recognized as the first person in the history of the U.S. Military to develop a successful, sustainable strategy to reduce the crippling stigma associated with mental health challenges in a warrior culture, would like to follow the outcome of those she supports. According to Col. Chambers, 'Part of the plan is for veterans to receive non-pharmaceutical tools to aid in their PTS Challenges. I'll then follow their progress and after six months, have them help me pay it forward to those they know who could also benefit.'
'These women are being recognized for their leadership, vision, courage and ingenuity and we're honored to bring to life their previously untold stories that will inspire the next generation of trailblazers,' says Dyllan McGee, MAKERS founder and executive producer.