What do you do for work?
I am General Counsel for the largest domestic non-profit organization dedicated to addressing violence against women and children—Futures Without Violence.
Travel. Even travel for work presents amazing opportunities to meet new people. Yes, I am the person who makes lifelong friends with the person sitting next to me on the plane or while eating at the bar at a restaurant in a new city. But I respect when someone has their headphones on, promise!
Not sure if this is a regret because I think I made the right decision at the time, but I was engaged when I was 25 to a really lovely and loving man and called our wedding off six months before it was to take place. I was really too young and he was ten years older and ready for the whole white-picket fence, two kids, and a minivan. I just couldn’t see myself in that life, even though he was amazing.
Can you describe your fantasy version of your older self?
My 90-year-old Dad gave me Becoming for Christmas and the inscription read, “Looking forward to YOUR book. You live an interesting life, my love. Live it, write it! – Dad.” So I suppose the fantasy version of my older self is to have the time to write again. I know one can always find the time, but lately, it feels like I all I think about is work. So my fantasy version of myself that I want to make a reality is to make time for what is important to me and for what I need. And, of course, I am writing while overlooking the ocean, with my dog and hot man by my side, and a taut body. How on earth is she 75???
What’s your biggest fear?
Dying alone and destitute, but isn’t that everyone’s fear?
What’s your guilty pleasure?
This is so mortifying, but I work every day on violence against women, which is obviously a very heavy subject matter, so the only thing that seems to allow me to fully shut that off is Bravo TV. I know way too much for comfort about Vanderpump Rules and Below Deck. I am doing Dry January from alcohol right now, maybe I need to do a dry February from Bravo to wean myself off the ridiculousness?
What does to group mean to you?
What this group means to me was crystallized after the Kavanaugh hearings and Dr. Blasey Ford’s testimony. I used to be a prosecutor focused on violence against women offenses and am a long-time victim advocate, and because of my job now, media outlets were reaching out to me left and right to interview me. I am also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse so, like many, the hearings, Dr. Ford’s testimony, and the surrounding rhetoric, was exceptionally triggering. I honestly thought, up until that point, that I was some kind of magical unicorn—an intact, healed survivor/warrior—goddess of closure. But on the day of Dr. Ford’s testimony, when CNN asked me to be on air that evening to comment, I had a little bit of a freak out. I turned off my phone and ignored the frantic texts and emails trying to find me.
A few days before Dr. Ford bravely appeared before Senate Judiciary, I looked, for the first time, for the person who abused me when I was a child and found an obituary of him online. I couldn’t bring myself to tell my “Facebook friends” what I had discovered, but needed to get it out, so I posted about it on WWVWD. The response, support, solidarity, sharing, love, etc., that came back to me from that post was, in a (compound) word, life-changing. From those responses, from this amazing community of women, I found the courage to speak about my abuse publicly, and I will always thank WWVWD for giving me that.
What do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
I would say my job now. I work for my shero, Esta Soler. The work my organization has done and continues to do makes an impact—it changes lives, systems, communities. If you have ever been asked by a nurse or your doctor if someone is hurting you, that is because of my organization, and what we lobbied to put in the Affordable Care Act. Domestic violence is out from behind closed doors and is recognized as a community and public health responsibility. And in this era of #MeToo, one of the programs I lead works on changing workplace culture to prevent sexual harassment and promote equity, safety, and dignity in the workplace, for women, people of color, and other marginalized workers. The worker-leaders and survivors we work alongside and who inform our campaigns and resources are inspirational. Google “promotora/janitor/California” to see some of the work in which we are involved. We are also launching a workplace culture change campaign, #CheckYourWorkplace, in early 2019. I would love to get the force of Woolfer Nation involved! Can you imagine how powerful it would be if we all banded together to demand equity, respect, and safety in the world of work?
Tell us something surprising about yourself.
I went to the “Fame” high school in NYC and was a professional jazz singer in NYC and Japan before going to college. I took the road more traveled, I guess, but it has made all the difference!
Are you working on any exciting projects?
My project on workplace sexual harassment can be found here. And look out for our campaign launch later this year—#CheckYourWorkplace!