#HearHerStory: Geneva Peschka

Interview with a Community Manager at The Wing

About Geneva

Geneva is a Community Manager at The Wing and a documentary filmmaker. One of her proudest achievements is Unspoken, a documentary film about an incredible, young autistic girl, winner of the TASH 2017 Positive Images in the Media Award and featured at the 40th Mill Valley Film Festival, SXSW EDU, The Wing Shorts Film Festival and many more. She is currently working on a 12-part documentary series entitled Women and hopes to continue to amplify people’s voices and build inclusive communities through her work at the Wing and beyond.

Maya Frai: Why did you decide to work at The Wing?

Geneva Peschka: I am a documentary filmmaker and I focus on creating a platform for people to be heard. A documentary I made called Unspoken, is about an incredible young, autistic girl who hopes to push a shift in the dialogue around autism. Initially, I was working on the project from home or cafe’s but I decided to get a membership at The Wing. I realized that being able to have this space where I could go everyday and get so much work done and be around this incredible community of women was amazing and so worthwhile. After 4 years, I finished the film and presented it at a film festival in San Francisco as well as at a private screening at The Wing. They were super supportive in helping me share the story and I truly felt that The Wing had a tremendous impact on how I had grown as an individual. I thought, how could I not want to be a part of every woman’s experience and support these women in their journey? So, I applied to be a part of the community team. The founders Audrey and Lauren created something so special and empower so many women, whether they are members or employees.

MF: What do you think of the timing of The Wing as an open space for women?

GP: I can’t remember the last time we really had something like this, we’ve had social clubs before but for a long time we’ve been without. And it’s incredibly important to have these spaces. For me, I know how the space affects me and other people. Having a place where I can go and just be and be celebrated in my existence and not worry about what else is going on around me throughout the day. Having moments to reset my thoughts and learn, listen, and share with other people is such a gift. And when you experience that, you are rejuvenated and that affects the relationships in your life since you’re taking that energy and inspiration and that great feeling home with you and sharing it with the people around you.

MF: What did you learn from your experiences empowering a community of women?

GP: I think that in typical structures of power, you’re the leader if you’re the speaker. And if you really start to look at it, I think there’s more power in listening. You know there’s always that kid in class that always spoke, but if you’re that kid who’s listening, you’re taking in all of that information and growing from that. I think that being someone who observes and listens somehow shifts that power since you’re widening your lens. As we move forward and build and consult organizations, we have to focus on allowing other people to speak and create a platform for people to exchange their stories. I think we can only truly progress when we realize that we all need to be heard and be represented equally. Gone are the times when other people are telling your story and now is the time to speak on your behalf. We talk about the seat at the table but we need to ensure that we include everyone — that goes for socioeconomic, education, disability, and all levels of status and backgrounds.

MF: What are your personal and career goals? How have they changed since you were in college and how do you think the Wing has helped you grow?

GP: I actually didn’t finish college, I spent a lot of years in customer service and I really loved working in places where I could be a part of human connection and learned a lot on how you can shift someone’s experience. I then moved into production because I always had a passion for expressing myself through art. I find myself at a place right now where I am able to have these experiences of trying something, learning from it, from failing or from excelling. And I think we should all be pushed to fail more because there’s so much growth in the experience. Outside of my work at The Wing, I want to create content that shifts people’s thinking and perceptions and reminds people of our purpose here. I have grown to be able to put my mind towards something whether or not I know the end goal, and work to ensure everything falls into place. When I was working on Unspoken, I learned how to ask investors for funding, how to crowdfund, how to make the film, how to secure a team and equipment, and I learned all of this things by doing. And, I definitely utilize these experiences at The Wing to be able to create our community programming and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

MF: How have you tried to support women in your life?

GP: I am currently working on a 12-part documentary series entitled “Woman” — it’s an empowerment series that strives to make sure more voices are heard. And so, I continue to always ask myself: how can we empower each other? Sisterhood and supporting other women is so important and has been so engrained in me since the beginning. My mom was a single parent and is an incredibly strong woman I look up to, who no matter what always found a way to create a community and a network of women to help raise me and ensure I was going to be okay. From very early on, I understood the notion of sisterhood and how beautiful it is to know that it really does take a village, a group of people contributing to your growth. And now I try to be a model of my mom and give as much as I receive to empower and support women to always believe in themselves.

MF: Who do you look up to for inspiration?

GP: Now, I get inspired every moment that I am at work by what is being built around me, the team that I work with, and the women in the space. I love getting to know the members and being constantly motivated by hearing their incredible stories and experiences. I think it’s also really important to have role models who you aspire to model yourself around. For me, I am incredibly inspired by Oprah, because I am inspired by people who create a shift in thinking — a reminder that one person can create a ripple effect and create greater good for humanity. But, I am also very inspired by the everyday woman because who we are as everyday women is heroic. I love to sit down, have coffee with someone I want to get to know and take in their experiences and laugh and hear their story because I think it’s so healthy to acquire these strong important nuggets of information, learn from them and form greater connections.

MF: What do you think is the most important skillset a woman needs to handle today’s workplace landscape?

GP: I think we need to be walking into spaces confident and know that we should be there. We have to ask for what we want because people aren’t going to give it to us and be able to not only be included in a conversation, but drive it. We should always stay curious and learn as much as we can to stay included in the conversations and create spaces for our fellow coworkers to learn and grow.

MF: What is some career advice you’d give to other women?

GP: Definitely dream big. I am still on my journey, and to date my biggest achievement is Unspoken and I intend to continue from there. And getting the opportunity to go to work everyday and be both part of a community and build community is a dream come true. I think it’s important to find what you’re passionate about and follow that. When you stumble, just know that when you’re rising in that failure, that process is part of the journey that makes you stronger. Also, I think we should always work towards connecting with others. Connect with people who are different from you and I mean this in every way — age, background, religion, everything — to expand your lens. At the end of the day, the important thing is not monetary success but staying true to yourself, connecting and uplifting others and following your joy.

Be sure to check out Geneva’s work at www.genevapeschka.com

The Wing is a network of co-working and community spaces designed for women. The Wing’s mission is the professional, civic, social, and economic advancement of women through community. Be part of the community and follow @the.wing.