Carlynne McDonnell knows that woman’s inequality exists in every area of life – the workplace, of course, but also in the healthcare system, and the judicial system. The founder of the nonprofit, Change in Our Lifetime, which is dedicated to achieving equality for women, Carlynne is the author of The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality. Carlynne has a Master’s in Public Policy and has been working in the corporate, education and non-profit worlds for over 30 years. She has presented workshops and keynotes on women’s equality, leadership development, organizational strategy on the national and local level with women’s organizations, college and universities and for the United States Marine Corps. To learn more, visit her website.
Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
I was raised in Texas during the civil rights movement and that triggered my interest in social justice and equality. I saw first-hand time the devastating effect that inequality, discrimination and racism had on people’s lives. It made me commit to work towards a better society from a very early age.
What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
The feeling that I am making a difference in the lives of women, and men. That I work towards a world where women are respected and valued and safe from violence. Workshops I present teach women about their self-worth, workplace and leadership skills and that helps create a different world.
What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
I have a Master’s degree in Public Policy and I have been an active volunteer in women’s organizations that deal with equality. I read and researched a lot and learned as much as I could.
Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
I found people were both encouraging and discouraging. When you change the status quo people are uncomfortable. They feel that you are making them change the way they think or act. That can be frightening to people who are invested in maintaining the status quo. And the exact opposite has been true. People who seek a better self or a better world are enthusiastic and encouraging.
Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
I have had several assignments that prepared me for my current career. What I am doing now is an accumulation of all of those other assignments and volunteer efforts. But I have no doubts about what I doing. It is definitely my “calling”.
When did your career reach a tipping point?
I would say that the last 5 years have pushed me to where I am. Seeing the increasing levels of disrespect for women (domestic “familial” violence, inequality in health care, and work) in our country made me act more strongly in creating a non-profit for women’s equality and writing the book “The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality”.
Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
Self-doubt and a lack of belief in what I was doing were two things I struggled with every day. But I believed that I had to act to make a difference and that kept me going. And I had an innate belief that I could affect change for women.
What single skill has proven to be most useful?
Perseverance is the single most important skill to success. It is putting one foot in front of the other every day and making some small progress in some way every day. It is really sticking to it.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the writing and publishing of my book “The Every Woman’s Guide to Equality”. It summarizes my ideas about inequality and my message for change.
Any advice for others entering your profession?
My advice is for any profession. Be smart about your subject, maintain professionalism and integrity at all times, be open to learning and hearing what others have to say, keep moving toward your goal every day and always believe in yourself.