Fearless: Q&A with author and podcast host Janice McDonald

4 MIN READ

Women United supports fearless women who are pursuing a better life for themselves and their families, fearless mothers working to create a healthier start for their children, and fearless women taking the steps to get out of unsafe situations. 

And so, it only felt right to invite someone who has made it her life’s work to share the stories of fearless women to speak with us for a special International Women’s Day event.  

Along with 136 attendees, we welcomed Janice McDonald, podcast host and author of Fearless: Girls with Dreams, Women with Vision to our virtual stage. We also heard from special guests Cheekbone Beauty CEO Jennifer Harper and Own Your Own Success founder Clare Beckton. 

Together, we celebrated the power of women’s stories to inspire change, force us to look at new opportunities, and recognize fearlessness.  

Prior to the event, we asked Janice, as our keynote speaker, to tell us more about her passion for celebrating women’s stories that inspire others to be their most authentic self.  

Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Click here to watch the full event recording.

Q: This year’s theme, Women Inspiring Women, was especially powerful for Women United because we are consistently inspired by our members and donors who give back to their communities. Tell us about women who inspire you. 

A: So many women inspire me! In my book, Fearless: Girls with Dreams, Women with Vision, the poignant stories of more than 80 real women’s lives are a constant source of inspiration. Regularly, women reach out to share the impact of the book on their own lives. It’s resonating powerfully with girls and women everywhere!

Through different organizations I am involved with, I have the opportunity to mentor emerging women leaders. It’s a privilege to do so and I am continually moved by their dreams and accomplishments. They inspire me! Similarly, through International Women’s Forum, I have met accomplished leaders around the globe.    

It’s incredible to see women making a difference in their communities and the world at every stage of their lives. It’s important to note that everyone—regardless of their age, stage, or status—can make a difference in the world and in someone’s life. 

Q: In your book, you say that writing Fearless: Girls with Dreams, Women with Vision, has been a lifelong dream of yours. How did this dream get started? Why is it important for you to share women’s stories?  

A: I’ve kept a picture of my ten-year-old self close by for a long time. It has moved from office to office, always finding a place on my desk. The picture is like a North Star for me. When I look at that girl, I see someone who is determined, certain, and fearless. The original version of my true self.  

Who we are can sometimes get lost along the way, as we grow and are shaped by societal pressures. Understanding the need to bring women back to an earlier time in their life when they felt fearless and connect the dots with who they are now was the inspiration for the book. 

Q: You have been advocating for equity since 1992 when you completed your first graduate degree and wrote your thesis on women on boards in Canada. How do you approach advocacy? What would you say to encourage people to use their voices for advocacy on causes important to them?  

A: It’s important to share our stories. It enables us to better understand each other and make sense of the world. We are each shaped by our own experiences from the time we were born until this exact moment. Everyone matters and every story is important. When we share our unique journeys, we bring forth our uniqueness. 

Q: You mentioned earlier, “Anyone—regardless of age, stage, or status—can make a difference in the world or in someone’s life.” We have seen women increase their role on boards, in start-ups and businesses, in executive leadership and politics. We are also seeing a shift in the way that women participate in philanthropy, and it’s one of the reasons that Women United was created as a global movement with local impact. What advice would you give someone who wants to give back to their community?  

A: The great Dolly Parton once said, “If your actions create a legacy that inspires others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, then you are an excellent leader.”  

When we stand up for what we believe in, we become excellent leaders and examples to others. Using our voices for causes we believe in can transform our communities. We all need to use our voices.

In 2015, I gave a TEDx talk about how we all have superhero powers and I encouraged everyone to use them. Our superpowers are our smart phone, wallet, and values. We have the power to create the world we want to live in by using these three superpowers. Pull out your phone to research, to share info, and use your voice. Open your wallet to support the organizations that you want to see thrive. And align your values with your giving to make a meaningful difference in the world. 

In case you missed our event, watch the recording here: 

Looking for more inspiring conversations with Janice, Jennifer, and Clare? Check out Janice’s podcast, Fearless Women! 

About Women United

United Way East Ontario’s Women United connects donors not only with the act of philanthropy, but with the impact we can have for women and their families in our region.

Together, with our incredible donors and supporters, Women United remains committed to centring the voices of women to build a better future for everyone. 

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