As you were both born outside of the US, can you share your stories about becoming American Citizens?
Gillian: I became an American citizen April 2, 2014 at a swearing-in ceremony in Boston’s Faneuil Hall. Born in London, Ontario and growing up in Singapore and Belgium I always felt as though I was a citizen of the world rather than one particular place. While I am deeply passionate and proud to be Canadian, I have chosen to build my personal and professional life here in the United States. I have lived in Boston longer than I have lived anywhere else and after many years of residency, I felt it was my responsibility and my honor to become a United States Citizen.
Mandana: I moved to the States when I was 5 years old and immediately began my love affair with this country. I was so grateful for its opportunity, compassion, and acceptance of our family. I became a citizen when I was in college! My parents threw me a party that night and I will never forget what it meant to me.
Can you tell us all about the first time you voted in the US?
Gillian: My first experience voting was in the 2014 midterm elections, however the most memorable was casting my vote in the 2016 Presidential Election. I live in a suburb of Boston and I waited in line at the library for my turn. I was so excited and ultimately proud to wear my “I Voted” sticker. I am committed to continuing to exercise my right and engage others in the pursuit of making change in this amazing country.
Mandana: I never had the opportunity to vote anywhere else, so my first voting experience in the States was my first time ever! I must say that my first time voting with my daughter, Anderson, was actually one of the most incredible memories of my life. She came with me to vote for Hillary Clinton, and we both got dressed up and wore our stickers and took countless photos. We talked about what the possibility of that day meant for us, women and our country. It was also the day she decided she wanted to be president!
As mothers, do you (or will you, once they’re older) make a point to keep your children in-the-know about the political climate of their country?
Gillian: My children are 12 and 8 and they are already “appropriately” in the know. In order to bring up great leaders we need to set honest and realistic examples for them. At home we teach our children to be curious, this brings all kinds of questions and we have a commitment and responsibility to share the facts and encourage conversation.
Mandana: YES! My daughter Andy (5) is very involved with I am a voter. She travels with me to events and wears our merchandise almost daily. We watch all the presidential debates together and she has come with me to meet several of the candidates. We speak very regularly about issues that I think are appropriate for her age. I really want her to be engaged, compassionate and kind. We also try to vote very regularly in our home (what to eat for dinner or dessert are the most common topics).
Do you encourage your children to be leaders? How?
Gillian: I believe example is the best way to learn (both the good ones and the bad ones). I encourage my children to take risks (you don’t make the shots you don’t take), I also encourage them to listen thoughtfully. I hope that by watching me they see opportunity to lead.
Mandana: Yes! We speak about kindness every day, which I believe is the most critical element of leadership. We also speak about the importance of standing up for our friends, including others, compassion and having conviction in our beliefs.
What are the top skills you believe make a great leader?
Gillian: Confidence, empathy, listening, positive energy, and preparedness.
Mandana: Vision, courage, focus, charisma, and compassion.
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