International Women’s Day: NYC Women Who Are Claiming & Shaping 2021

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International Women’s Day: Inspo from NYC Women Who Are Claiming & Shaping 2021

It’s International Women’s Day, and here in New York, we have a lot to celebrate. If we want to throw it back to 1848, there was the iconic Seneca Falls Convention. Flash forward to 1915 with the largest women’s march for suffrage (at the time) up Fifth Ave. Then there’s the glamour and hope of the women who lived in the Barbizon Hotel on the UES in the ’40s and ’50s, women leadership in sports like Billie Jean King who founded the Women’s Tennis Association, stellar artists and activists like the Latina poet Julia de Burgos who argued for civil rights for African and Afro-Caribbean women writers, and more recently the rise of all-female spaces in the city, like Maison

But today’s world looks a lot different. The global pandemic has disproportionately impacted women. Many working women have lost their jobs or were forced to step away when childcare wasn’t available. Quarantine led to a rise in gender-based violence, depression, and widening gender wage gaps in the workplace. Women who own small businesses struggled to keep them open, Black women, women of color, and allies struggled to fight for racial justice while also dealing with the emotional effects of the pandemic, and mothers struggled to explain the seemingly unexplainable to their little ones as their lives continued to shift. 

Psst…check out our NYC Spring Bucket List: 30 Family-Friendly Things to do in Spring 2021!

Yet at the same time, women did not let their voices be suppressed. Since 2020, we’ve seen more female representation (first woman VP!), efforts to make the entertainment, sports, and tech industries more diverse & inclusive, as well as police and education reform in response to BLM, empowering Netflix shows like The Queen’s Gambit that navigate gendered spaces, and women supporting women to get through these times together. So what then does it mean to be a woman in 2021? We asked this very question to NYC women who are navigating this post-2020, start-of-2021 landscape with courage and confidence. Check out what they have to say about shifting career paths, embracing creativity, adjusting to work-from-home, prioritizing self-care, and so much more.

Jacqueline Hernandez Lewis

Long Island Latina mama of two (with another on the way!) Jackie Hernandez Lewis is #momgoals. Jackie transitioned from being an attorney to work-from-home so that she could spend more time with her kiddos. We love how Jackie celebrates her Hispanic heritage with her family and beyond by partnering with fellow Hispanic mom bloggers. Jackie is active on her Moments of Musing blog, and she also freelance writes, contributing to anti-racism, BLM, and diversity & inclusion discussions. And on top of it all, she works with CONNECT NYC, a nonprofit that prevents interpersonal violence and promotes gender justice. Stay up to date on Jackie’s journey @momentsofmusing on IG! 

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“To me, being a woman in 2021 means continuous growth. I am growing my third baby, growing a career, and growing my business, in addition to juggling my roles as a mom and wife. 

It’s a lot, especially during a pandemic, so there are times I feel stretched thin and there have been real growing pains. 

Overall, however, it’s been fulfilling to know I am lifting myself and my family, while cheering on all other women who are doing their best during these trying times, as well.”

Photo by George Baier

Amy Poeppel

Amy Poeppel is the author of the novels Musical Chairs, Small Admissions, and Limelight. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Rumpus, Literary Hub, Working Mother, and The Belladonna. She and her husband have three sons and split their time between New York City, Germany, and the wilds of Connecticut. Outside of her writing, Amy worked as an assistant director of admissions at an independent New York school and she got into acting after college. Fun fact: Amy makes an appearance on an episode of America’s Most Wanted! What can we as NYC women learn from Amy? Well, besides her creativity and diversification of interests, Amy speaks out for what she believes in, making her voice heard (check out her New York Times article about abandoning handshakes moving forward!).  

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“Many women in their fifties—like me—are still grappling with last year’s challenges, even as 2021 gets underway. Having almost-grown or even adult children who aren’t having normal life experiences because of Covid and elderly parents to worry about is especially tricky when we’re all trying to stay safe in a pandemic. When I’m not working, I’m focusing on activities that make me happy and energize me. Reading books, or listening to audiobooks while I’m walking, provides a much-needed escape, increases my own creativity, and gives me lots to talk about when I join my weekly Zoom calls with family or friends. I highly recommend reading fiction and memoir, especially books written by fabulous women writers.”

Natasha D’Anna

Natasha is the voice behind the oh-so-popular blog, Twin Dollicious & Co. If you haven’t already hopped on the Twindollicious wave, it’s a must-read to get the scoop on DIY fun, lifestyle hacks, travel and events, fashion, and so much more. A mom of three and author of the Mom’s Choice Award children’s book Any Two Can be TwinDollicious, Natasha brings out the imaginative and creative side of us NYC mamas. Follow her on IG @twindollicious for all the style, self-care, and crafty inspiration you’re craving! 

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“From my experiences as a woman in 2021, I am now understanding that many things that I had suppressed for a long time are relevant and should be spoken about. I stand stronger with other moms and women in all communities now more than ever. I try my best to show up as a great representation of what I believe in (kindness and connections) in order to show my girls and others that together we can make a better change for human-kind & for women. We matter so much and it’s time to share our superpowers and worth.”

Julie Garces 

Julie has overseen sales, marketing, and events for some of the most recognized organizations, artists, brands, and individuals. With a diverse background in activism, sustainable design of events, and a mission for her work to be inclusive and equitable in opportunity and experience, Julie is the NYC queen of marketing. We love how Julie actively shows her support for small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic, as well as Black-owned and Black female-owned businesses. Having been impacted financially by the pandemic herself, Julie is now starting her own business: a marketing and event consultancy called Loveland Street that focuses on offering accessible services to all clients regardless of socioeconomic position, race, gender, and ability. 

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“We are all carrying heaps of emotion and exhaustion. I believe women are natural units of support. For our friends, kids, colleagues, spouses. So, for 2021, it means we are showing up, supporting ourselves first and foremost, and then looking around to see who around us needs support we have the capacity to offer. For me, that means our Black and brown communities, our marginalized communities, and children. For me personally, I am showing up in a professional way and digging deep to find out who in those communities were impacted by our social movements and Covid-19.” 

Marina Rae Trejo

Wellness and fitness icon Marina Rae Trejo reminds us to take care of our minds and bodies in 2021. In a time when things are still so uncertain, Marina doesn’t let us forget how important it is to carve out space for ourselves, for our own health and wellness routines. From Southern California to NYC, Marina’s carried her passion for Pilates, movement, and teaching along with her. Not only does she teach classes in Manhattan and Brooklyn (she even pivoted to online sessions since COVID-19), but as a New York board-certified esthetician, she provides nutritional and skincare consulting (we could all use a self-care facial these days) on-site and at Take Care Body Mind. Need daily workout/wellness motivation? Follow Marina @thebentandthestraight on IG! 

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

The first thing that comes to mind after experiencing this last year is, ‘I DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ANYMORE!’ 

But really, when I dig just a bit more under the belly of that question, the words elegant tenacity come to mind and described scenarios below: 

Because, I cannot control how many quarantined people (four of us, two adults, two sons) there are living underneath one roof with one bathroom where we are doing work, meetings, remote school, pod group, cooking, eating, teaching, Zooming, existing, I am able to breathe deep breaths and to let go of keeping the house as clean in the way I want it to look. 

Because I cannot control how successful my career is right now, I am able to take it slow step-by-step and deeply appreciate the clients who have stuck by my side this last year and to give to them my full attention and consideration. 

Because I cannot control how much screen time my kids are spending on their devices, I am able to softly ask them if they want to snack on a bowl of fruit and chopped veggies. 

Because I feel so helpless and angry at this government for not supporting working families more by providing families with childcare support and financial contributions to help pay towards the necessary childcare that is vital, I am able to tell a joke to put a smile on my face and to learn to trust that the love I have for my kids is enough for right now. 

Because life has been so stressful this last year, I decided to eat quite simply and to cut out alcohol for a couple of months so I could spend the money instead on therapy, I am able to ask some deep questions and to spend time in deep reflection about how I want to shape my life in the coming years. 

To Be a Woman in 2021 is to be a fully-fleshed human, to learn to live with who you are inside of yourself as yourself without attachment to your appearance, your home, your mothering skills or your lack of mothering skills. To be a fully fleshed human is to accept radically that things are different now, therefore we need to be different in how we respond to everyone and everything with elegant tenacity.”

Jodie Patterson

Activist, author, and mother of five Jodie Patterson is the 2021 inspo we need. Jodie is an LGBTQIA+ advocate who serves as Board of Director with the Human Rights Campaign and works closely with HRCs Parents for Transgender Equality Council. If you haven’t already read her first book, The Bold World: A Memoir of Family and Transformation, you better get on it because her second story, the children’s book we’ve all been waiting for, is coming out soon: Born Ready: The True Story of a Boy Named Penelope. Jodie’s children’s book (preorder now!) reminds us of the beauty, bravery, and creativity that we can harness at any time, even amidst a global pandemic. Brooklyn mama who inspires us to reimagine the world around us with empathy and appreciation, Jodie Patterson is simply stunning

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“What it means to be a woman hasn’t changed for me — even in 2021, after going through a horrible year filled with toxic male energy, white supremacy, misused privilege, systemic racism, fake news, police brutality, income inequality, and so much death. Being a woman still holds true for me. In women, we can find answers to big, global problems. That radical feminine energy I learned from the Black women who raised me exists stronger than ever and needs to be put to good use for the greater good. 

What has changed — is the woman I AM. Getting here, where I stand today, has been a long time in the making. I am now able to boldly insert myself in places that I wouldn’t have dared prior. I can’t explain the science behind how I got to this point in my life, but I know this: sometimes when you untether from expectations, from cultural norms, from what others need from you, from what you think you should be, even when you untether for a bit from people (for a few days or so) you can find resources that can change your life in ways you never imagined. Today I call myself an Untethered Woman — I try not to be defined by things, people, and ideals.”

Lea Geller

Lea Geller is the author of Trophy Life and the upcoming novel The Truth and Other Hidden Things (April 6, 2021)...stay tuned! A recipient of the 2019 Kathryn Gurfein Writing Fellowship at Sarah Lawrence College, she began her writing career by blogging about her adventures in the trenches of parenting. Lea lives in New York with her husband and five children, which has surely been a transition for her writing environment since the start of the global pandemic. When Lea’s not writing and eavesdropping on her children, she can be found running, gardening, drinking diner coffee, and occasionally teaching middle school English. She’s also a graduate of Columbia University and Stanford Law School! Looking for your next book club read? Learn more about Lea and her books at

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“Writers generally work from home, which means that when the pandemic struck, I was already well-positioned to keep calm and carry on, or at least I would have been had I suddenly not had to share my workspace with my husband and children. Suddenly, my once-quiet office was bustling with demanding, noisy co-workers, constantly jostling for the best spot in the building. Everyone needed a desk and some room to work, and about every forty-five minutes or so, someone wandered into my own shrinking workspace with a request.

 ‘I need a snack.’

 ‘The WiFi is down.’

 ‘I also need a drink.’

 ‘The WiFi is still down.’

 ‘I spilled the juice.’

 ‘About that WiFi…’

Desperate for a break in the endless cycle of sameness, I did what any sane person would do. I got chickens. For a few moments every day, I put on a pair of boots (tip: get yourself some designated chicken boots or that poop which is on every surface of your yard will soon be on every surface of your home) and wander out to the coop. One could argue that I already had my hands full before this all started — we all did. There have been many perks to all this family time, but one of them has not been the preservation of my own space. I often seem to be the only person who can answer a question or resolve a dispute and once my space got invaded I needed to create another one, even if that space was a wooden chicken coop.”

Katie Zhou

Recent Princeton University graduate Katie Zhou is now living in NYC working as an Equity Research Analyst at Credit Suisse. While she had an anything-but-normal final semester in college with the spread of COVID-19 (virtual graduations are very subpar, but we move on), Katie made the best of the situation, understanding the responsibility that everyone had to the health and safety of the Princeton community. While at Princeton, Katie was involved in the Ivy League Mental Health Conference, China Social Impact Project, Women in Economics & Policy, Cheerleading, and the Pianists Ensemble. Katie’s ambition inspires us to all dream big and work hard towards our goals for 2021.

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021?

“Having just moved to a new city and started working my first job in a male-dominated industry, being a woman in 2021 has meant learning to be more comfortable with myself. It’s easy for me to overthink things or to care too much about the smallest of worries, especially during such a testing time. It can always feel like there’s a pressure to say the right thing or to look the right way but I’ve come to recognize that I’m someone to be reckoned with (even if WFH has stripped me of any desire to wear a bra, put makeup on, or change out of my sweats!). That confidence comes from trusting in my own capabilities and the value I bring, as well as trusting that the other women in my life have nurtured and inspired me to be just as strong as they have been.” 

Neha Ruch

Neha Ruch is rebranding the “stay-at-home” stereotype, and we couldn’t be happier. After 10 years of working at an ad agency and a start-up with an MBA at Stanford, Neha decided to take a step back from her career and a leap into motherhood. With her site Mother Untitled, Neha shows us NYC mamas that choosing to put motherhood first is empowering. There is not just one cookie-cutter model for how a woman should be, despite the “break the glass ceiling” and “have it all” rhetoric that seems to dominate today’s world. Yes, having a successful career as a woman is empowering, but so is choosing for yourself to spend time with your family at home. Mother Untitled focuses on parenting, creativity, and self, giving women the inspo they need for personal growth and self-worth alongside parenting. Follow Neha @motheruntitled on IG for more!

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“There’s a lot of dialogue about the weight of responsibility women carry, and I would offer that it comes with an incredible amount of impact we make. As someone who made shifts to focus on family life for this chapter while my kids are young, I am grateful for the current recognition of the work women do to lead – in our home and our communities.

This year showed me my capacity as a mother and wife, yes, but also reminded me of my power to ask for what I need and commit to the growth I want to show up the best I can for the family I lead. Ironically 2020/21 has been the moment I finally followed through on reading more, writing more, meditating more, moving my body more, and worrying less. This was the year I figured out the routines that keep everyone happy and healthy in our home. I asked for help from my husband and, when it was safe, from outside help, to invest in my own health and creative work. I run Mother Untitled to empower women with confidence during their career pause or shift — and that work takes on particular meaning in this period. More and more women today explore the grey area of making room for family life while holding space to keep growing.

2021 is another season of shifts for me and so many mothers. As women, we own the unique ability to adapt over and over and make the individual choices that serve our families and ourselves for that moment of time.”

Leah Wiseman Fink

Self-care queen, mother of two, community-builder, and coach Leah Wiseman Fink is on a mission to help women find the strength to live their best lives. Whether it’s a motivational message on IG or an in-person conversation about self-love, Leah’s positivity radiates to others. In a time where things are still so chaotic, we really appreciate Leah’s emphasis on mental health. Beyond coaching, Leah’s worked with the NYC Department of Education on opening new schools, and she created a leadership program for master’s degree students in Education Leadership at Teachers College at Columbia University. Leah is an innovator at heart — she identifies problems and finds solutions, encouraging us to do the same. When she wasn’t finding the kind of Jewish community she was looking for in North Brooklyn for her family, she built it! Leah has had her fair share of setbacks just like we all have, this year perhaps more than ever, but she teaches us that we can and we will recover, and if we take the time to care for ourselves, then we can do anything we set our minds to.

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“The pandemic hit after the last of a string of multiple losses in my close-knit family. One thing I practice over this period of time is how to be resilient and then model resilience for my kids. Day after day, it has been important to show them who we are and demonstrate strength when adversity strikes.  

During this time none of us could imagine — I, like so many of my colleagues and especially mom friends, lost the steady consulting work I had been doing.  Luckily I was already on the path to becoming a coach, which has turned out to be exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Through my work as a coach, I’ve had the honor and ability to support others from struggling to thriving in work, family, and life. I’ve also been reminded that one needs to take care of herself before she can take care of anyone else so (and I’m lucky to be able to do this!), I block out times for creativity and rest. 

I’m a social person. Pre-pandemic, I spent a lot of my time at conferences, dinners with friends, and mom’s nights out.  I’ve been able to replicate some of that online (hello forever-long text chains and virtual book clubs!), I miss being in a room with lots of people. Post-pandemic, I’m planning on going all-in with retreats for women to reconnect and recharge.    

For me, it’s been facing life’s greatest challenges and learning how to dance in the rain. In 2021, watch out for our in-person dance in the rain party!” 

Brianne Manz

We are big fans of our former New York Family cover mom, Brianne Manz and her trendy blog, Stroller in the City! NYC mama of three and former showroom owner, Brianne is the go-to for all things city living and style. We love Brianne’s down-to-earth vibe: she’s so relatable and writes about the topics that not only interest her but ones that she knows we totally need to read (aka At Home Workout Guide and Best Desks for Kids Learning at Home!). Whether it comes to NYC must-visits, healthy dinner hacks, or sustainability at home, Brianne is the mom in-the-know. And we must plug her mommy & me fashion brand: In the City by Brianne, where you can shop the cutest looks. Join Brianne’s NYC adventures on IG @strollerinthecity!

From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“Being a woman in 2021 means being skillful. As women, we have statistically sacrificed the most during this pandemic. But we have adapted! We have molded to what the world needed of us and gave it our best. While yes some days may not have felt like a success and some days weren’t always executed with grace, we still kept ahead. We were asked to become homeschool teachers overnight completely giving up our personal daily routines, and for many, even our careers. Whether we are trying a new recipe for the 5th time of the week, juggling school Zooms, or becoming vice president, I have been reminded just how capable women truly are. From big to small accomplishments nothing is impossible for women and our futures.”

Rachel Lipson 

We’re all about small businesses founded and run by women, so when we came across NYC mama of two and founder of Blue Balloon Songwriting School, Rachel Lipson, we had to share her story. Rachel’s built her music education company all while raising two small boys, ages 5 and 7. So what is Blue Balloon anyway? This songwriting school is a place where parents and kids can use their unique voices and ideas to express themselves and find a new passion. Blue Balloon, deemed “the matriarch of modern music education”, also offers songwriting classes for little ones, paving the way for kids to see themselves as leaders who deserve to be heard. Rachel’s creativity, leadership, and motivation inspire us all!   


From your own experience, what does it mean to be a woman in 2021? 

“For me, being a woman in 2021 means taking time to recover from the trauma of 2020. The invisible work that women do is finally seeing the light – and with 2021 well underway and conversations around equality for women getting a larger audience, I hope it never recedes into the shadows again. 


Raising children while running a business was never easy, but having my family’s support systems pulled out from under us overnight when the pandemic hit made the challenges feel insurmountable. My business was my first baby and I had to sacrifice so much in the spring of 2020 to keep it afloat. Suddenly, I was a teacher, mother, wife, babysitter, breadwinner, chef, housekeeper and boss all at the same time and I was absolutely miserable and exhausted. This year for me is about recognizing how valuable my time is and delegating, delegating, delegating so I can choose how to spend my time rather than have it chosen for me.”