In Honor of Heroes: Grit & Grace

At the heart of Women’s History Month and today’s International Women’s Day are stories of remarkable women. This year’s theme of gender balance — #BalanceForBetter — is fitting for our time and embodied by three models of grit and grace, all personal heroes and guides even though we have never met.

Consider Jyssica Schwartz, author and creator who at the outset of today’s #MeToo movement, balanced a desire to engage with her unique ‘superpower’: Storytelling. Giving voice to others silenced, she self-published a collection of 57 first-hand stories of assault, abuse and harassment, submitted by women (and a few men, like this one) from around the world.

From the cover of Jyssica Schwartz’ #MeToo-inspired YOU ARE NOT ALONE

You Are Not Alone is a powerful resource for the silenced, and life-changing outlet for many given voice for the first time. Initially released without fanfare to immediate acclaim, Sunbury Press have released the book again, and in a new partnership with Jyssica will soon introduce the world to more voices with a second volume.

Jyssica’s grit and determination are as meaningful to me as her guidance.

Still another remarkable woman, a veteran of the US Navy who went on to a successful career in the private sector, has become arguably one of the foremost thought leaders on veteran employment — or UNDERemployment, which disproportionately plagues our heroes transitioning to civilian life.

In her new mission, Robyn Grable is founder and CEO of Veterans ASCEND, connecting veterans with good employers.

Where others lead with ego, Robyn leads with humility and an unwavering determination that the world’s best trained and skilled workers, our veterans ascend.

When working to advance Robyn’s vision, I am usually sitting near the veteran and dad I care for at home, always within sight of the framed image of another extraordinary woman, as photographed by Sean Sheridan while working with the International Justice Mission (IJM).

Not yet 30, I know this inspiring woman is the mother of nine, including children by birth and those she has adopted. She has survived a brutal rape, regional genocide and a land grab by a group of tyrannical men. Somehow she is smiling with pride, overshadowing the bright sun flowing in to her new home as she gazes upon the woven rugs she has created, with skills gained and mastered in her engagement with IJM. Today, having trained other women with these skills, she is more than a survivor; she is the driver of economic growth for her entire village in Uganda.

Becoming of her story and resilience, she is GRACE.

© Sean Sheridan

These women, like so many celebrated today, are a peak to a better world; inspirations this International Women’s Day — and every day — to live genuinely, lead with humility over hubris, and never lose faith that from the greatest darkness there comes Amazing Grace

Mission Accomplice & CEO at JRL Strategies | Former Obama White House and contributor to YOU ARE NOT ALONE

Mission Accomplice & CEO at JRL Strategies | Former Obama White House and contributor to YOU ARE NOT ALONE