On Friday, May 18, over 700 women and men gathered at the JW Marriott downtown to celebrate women’s leadership in Los Angeles. Together, we laughed, we cried, and we learned, as:
Read Lara’s full speech below:
Norman, my words won’t match yours but thank you, and Lyn, for being my mentor, my partner-in-crime, my friend and my family. I have been so enriched by our 20 years together and have loved every moment of watching your relationship grow with Eli.
I want to acknowledge my parents and my 10-year old son Eli, who I kept out of school today because how often do you get to see your mama honored in front of these many awesome people?
My colleagues at RALLY, who I spend the lions share of my time with and am so proud of our work together to take on sticky political and social problems and find ways to push them forward. I’ve spent my entire career being a behind the scenes person and so, genuinely, it feels uncomfortable and at times awkward to be in this spotlight, but I agreed to do it because I love LAANE, and the work they do to empower workers and communities who often feel sidelined.
I want to thank LAANE, Roxana, the amazing Stella and all the great LAANE staff. The work you do has changed the landscape of Los Angeles and is now being replicated across the country, and that’s real power. I want to acknowledge the real heroes in the room, Juana and the other hotel workers who are speaking their truths in the face of a power structure that works to deny them their safety and dignity. And I want to acknowledge my colleagues at Time’s Up who came here today to help me cheer on Juana and her colleagues. What Juana and her colleagues are doing is hard, has real risks, and takes real determination. I’m so happy LAANE is honoring them and their campaign today.
Finally, I want to thank Tracy and Shana, who co-chaired this event. The key to a successful event is to have great co-chairs in your corner. The key to a successful life is having a great best friend in your corner, and I am so lucky to have both.
When I told Eli about this lunch, he said (and he gave me permission to quote him) “No offense mom, but I don’t think it’s right to honor 1 or 2 people when so many people are doing good things.”. I want to be him when I grow up. and he’s right. So many people are doing good things.
In the past year, in the face of the horror that is Donald Trump it’s been easy to feel discouraged. Honestly, this past week has been so bad what with families getting ripped apart at the border, a basic end to legal abortion in Iowa, Russia/Stormy/Stormy and Russia…. How do we keep our heads up and remember that there are so many people doing good things even if, right now, it doesn’t feel like it is making a difference? We’ve been talking today about speaking truth to power. In the traditional sense that’s meant speaking up when we see powerful people abuse their power. That’s meant speaking out when we’ve seen injustices wrought by power, it means elevating those who perceive they have no power. But here’s my truth. If you look around the room today you’ll realize we ARE the power.
Women are 52% of the population. Why does it scare people to hear Time’s Up? Because if we recognize we are the power, if we OWN the power, we can change everything.
We’re at a critical moment in the lives of women and men, and that moment didn’t just happen magically. Decades of work, accomplished by so many of you in this room, has been done to lay the foundation for this moment – this moment where women are joining together across industries to say Time’s Up to a power structure that threatens their safety and equity in the workplace. Decades of work that includes training women to organize, to run for office, to see their own worth in their work.
And while it feels bleak to have an Assaulter in Chief in the White House, it does not feel bleak to stand here and look out at your faces, because all that foundational work is now making way for a movement that will grow. What’s brewing underneath the noise that comes out of Washington is a true progressive power. It’s all over the country in blue AND red states, urban and rural areas. It’s the power of what all of us are doing on environmental justice, criminal justice, social justice, gender equity and workers rights.
It’s a power that recognizes that we stand on the shoulders of the women and men who came before us, and that this power does not exist if it does not include women of color, and of different identities, if we don’t bring along the girls AND boys in our lives. We don’t succeed if it is not a truly intersectional movement.
There are forces out there that doesn’t want us to succeed. But together, we ARE the power. So let’s speak truth to that. Let’s recognize the power each of us have within ourselves to make this movement real and that when we work together we are unstoppable. Juana couldn’t fight the power alone, she had UNITE HERE to support her, and UNITE HERE can’t fight the power alone, they’ve joined together with us in this room and others, and as we leave this room, lets recognize our own power to grow this movement and make it real
Let’s take that recognition out of here to move from speaking truth to someone else’s idea of power, to owning that power, to daring to envision and make real what’s possible. Don’t leave this room today without making a new connection, and then keep that connection alive, show up for each other. We can build permanent power if we do it together.
-Lara Bergthold, May 18, 2018
Juana Melara, a Long Beach hotel worker featured in the TIME article, has been working tirelessly with organizers from her union, UNITE HERE Local 11, to demand a city policy to protect hotel workers from sexual harassment, assault and overwork.
On any given day, Juana must clean between sixteen and twenty rooms in an eight hour shift. She is expected to finish cleaning each room in 30 minutes, and although Juana works in a billion dollar industry, she often has to purchase her own cleaning supplies because she is not provided with enough supplies to complete her work. On top of the stress of meeting unsustainable work expectations, she and her coworkers have dealt with inappropriate advances from hotel patrons.
LAANE and UNITE HERE Local 11 are working to support Juana and her coworkers by putting a measure on the Long Beach ballot that will provide them with safeguards against sexual harassment and overwork.
Skilled at developing and launching impactful campaigns on behalf of her clients, Lara delivers results that truly make a difference. Lara helped develop and launch Sandy Hook Promise’s campaign, “Parent Together,” which engaged over 10 million people in 2013.
Lara also serves as Executive Director of the Lear Family Foundation, where she has directed millions of dollars of grants annually to progressive organizations. She helped launch the “Declaration of Independence Road Trip,” a multimedia historical document and voter registration tour following the Lears’ acquisition of an original copy of the Declaration of Independence. It eventually toured all 50 states and registered over 4 million voters. Previously, Lara served as National Deputy Political Director for John Kerry’s presidential campaign in 2004, overseeing the engagement of entertainment industry figures as surrogates for the campaign.
From 1989 to 1997, Lara worked with and then ran the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, raising over $6 million for progressive candidates at the national level.
A New York City native, Lisa began acting in Repertory Theater at age 14 and was cast the following year in the PBS series Oye Willie, jump-starting a long and varied acting career. Determined to take roles that reflected the diversity and strength of the Latino community, Vidal acted in two ABC After-School Special educational presentations: Class Act: A Teacher’s Story and In the Shadow of Love: A Teen AIDS Story.
Though television is her primary medium, Vidal has also starred in various feature films including Night and the City, I Like It Like That, Dark Mirror, Star Trek and Victor.
Lisa currently resides with her family in Los Angeles, California.
Carteris became a household name playing Andrea Zuckerman on the Aaron Spelling drama Beverly Hills, 90210. The success of the show allowed Carteris to get involved with many great organizations, including DARE, MADD, Read to Grow, Best Buddies and the Sky’s The Limit Fund.
Carteris has also worked as a producer, creating a series of specials called Lifestories, which led to her producing and hosting her own talk show for Fox, Gabrielle. Recent credits include a recurring role on Code Black and guest-starring roles on Criminal Minds, Make It or Break It, The Event, Longmire and The Middle. On stage, she performed a special presentation of The Vagina Monologues to raise money to combat violence against women and child abuse.
AMY ELAINE WAKELAND
First Lady of Los Angeles
JULIE GUTMAN DICKINSON
Labor Lawyer/Partner, Bush Gottlieb
Founder & Managing Partner, The 22 Fund
Founder, We Are Enough
LAANE has offered internships as part of college study or as summer placements. Both undergraduate and graduate students have benefited from their time with LAANE, and many have gone on to permanent jobs with LAANE or similar activist organizations. LAANE offers training in community organizing, research and communications.
In 2012, LAANE established the Beth and Julia Meltzer Internship Program. With the annual support of private donors, LAANE now works to offer expanded internship training opportunities to young people to help jump-start their careers as social justice advocates. LAANE’s internship program has now become a centerpiece of the Women for a New Los Angeles Luncheon.
"It was challenging in many ways, but it was also just as rewarding. I have had a lot of personal growth while working here and I’m grateful for that, but most of all, the people I have met working here is what shaped my experience."
"Being a part of this internship program has taught me to further broaden my horizons and never underestimate the power of people uniting for a common cause."
"I think the internship program provides a very supportive and nurturing learning environment for interns that helps them grow."
"I had never experienced an office environment that had more intelligent, passionate and values-driven people. Creating change in the world can take a lifetime, but seeing change in yourself can take just one summer."
"By the end of the summer, I’d helped to secure five neighborhood council endorsements, inaugurated a new farmer’s market outreach program and orchestrated delegations of key community leaders to four different council members’ offices."