128 Disrupt to Innovate

Today’s topic is Disrupting to Innovate. We disrupt the narrative that you have to hustle, compete, and succumb to hate in order to get ahead as a woman, as a nurturer, as a leader or as a business owner in order to create what we know to be true – that we can lead with self care, collaboration and love as our focus to achieve our goals and live the life we desire. I will walk you through the four stages of the Well Woman Life Cycle as we disrupt in order to innovate. Then, I’ll talk to an incredible group of women who are disrupting current systems and norms around breastfeeding and pumping in order to innovate in research and tech, change public and private policy and shift social norms.

For high achieving women, it’s hard to sit by and watch our lives unfold in ways that don’t live up to the expectations we have for ourselves, whether it’s relationships, our health, our financial success or our career. We know that there is so much more we can contribute to the world and we are ready to step up, meet the challenge and be rewarded for investing in ourselves and for serving others. But there are challenges. We are hard workers, yet we tend to over do it. We are determined and strong, and we sometimes don’t know when to slow down, or how to. We are focused and driven, and realize we need to course correct in major areas of our lives, which can lead to huge shifts and that can be difficult to manage.

The self help world relies on individual behavior change (work on yourself first in order to change the world) – that we have to hustle, compete, and succumb to the many forms of hate in order to get ahead as a woman, as a nurturer, as a leader or as a business owner. I believe we have to disrupt this narrative in order to create what we know to be true – that we can lead with self care, collaboration and the many forms of love in order to achieve our goals and live the life we desire. I propose that real change is determined by the interaction of two factors, not one: individual change AND environmental or external change. And the interaction of these two factors determines which stage we’re in.

If you want to find out which stage you’re in, go to wellwomanlife.com/quiz to learn more. And we’ll be going deep into this at the retreat on September 9th so definitely check out wellwomanlife.com/eventsfor more information.
For more about the framework, listen to episode 50 at wellwomanlife.com/059show


In the United States, only 22 percent of babies are exclusively breastfed for the recommended six months. New parents face challenges including stigma, lack of access to education and resources related to breastfeeding and pumping, unfriendly employer policies, unforeseen costs, and racial bias in the health care system.

The first Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Hackathon, in 2014, focused on the technological and physical difficulties of pumping because the basic technology and structure of the standard breast pump hasn’t changed much since its creation in the 1850s. This year’s breasfeeding festival included over 175 engineers, advocates, health care experts, parents, and students to address the many challenges of breastfeeding and pumping.

I caught up with some of the Make Breast Pumps Not Suck Breastfeeding Festival team at the recent US Breastfeeding Committee conference in Atlanta, GA. I talked with Binta Beard/Policy Summit Lead, Catherine D’Ignazio/Executive Director, Rachael Lorenzo/Community Innovation Team Leader, Becky Michelson/Program Manager and Jenn Roberts/Equity and Inclusion Lead. You can read their full bios below.

What you’ll learn in this episode:
1) how the Well Woman Life Cycle works and what each stage means
2) how to start noticing things that don’t work for your gender, culture or body
3) how a festival and hackathon disrupted the dominant culture of breastfeeding and pumping

Guest Bios:
Binta Beard is Managing Partner at Equinox Strategies, where she provides strategic consulting to clients on a range of health and public policy issues. As a veteran staffer of both the House and Senate, she understands the dynamics of the administration and Congress. With this experience and her background in public health, she possesses the knowledge needed to navigate today’s complicated public policy issues.
As a Principal at the Podesta Group, Binta was client manager for multi-national companies, one of the country’s largest foundations committed to the well-being of children, and a non-partisan children’s health advocacy group. On Capitol Hill, she served as Senior Policy Advisor to Majority Whip Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), where she led the senator’s health portfolio. In this position, she drafted legislation and amendments enacted into law, worked with committees, and partnered with public and private stakeholders. Prior to Sen. Durbin, she served in the House of Representatives as Legislative Assistant to then-Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Binta managed health legislative priorities, including passage of health care reform.
Before arriving to Capitol Hill, Binta worked in the public health sphere in many capacities. She conducted obesity and cancer prevention research at Dana-FarberCancer Institute, examined barriers to and the indirect costs of health care at Brigham & Women’s Hospital, and investigated disparities in children’s exposure to toxins at the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry in Atlanta. She received a doctorate in health and social policy and a master’s in health and social behavior from the Harvard School of Public Health. She received her bachelor’s degree from Wellesley College.

Catherine D’Ignazio is a hacker mama, scholar, and artist/designer who focuses on data literacy, feminist technology and civic engagement. She has designed global news recommendation systems, run women’s health hackathons, and created talking and tweeting water quality sculptures. She is the Executive Director of the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Project that convened 300 innovators at MIT to envision the future of breastfeeding and paid leave in the US. D’Ignazio is an Assistant Professor of Civic Media and Data Visualization at Emerson College, a Senior Fellow at the Engagement Lab and a research affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.

Rachael Lorenzo (Mescalero Apache/Laguna Pueblo/Xicana) is a queer mother of two and lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She was born in Las Cruces, New Mexico to young parents and was raised on her father’s ancestral land in Laguna, New Mexico. Rachael graduated with a BA in political science and a Masters in public administration, focusing on public health; both degrees are from the University of New Mexico. Rachael studied political campaigns, participated policy analyses, and has been consulted for her expertise in public health policies that could impact indigenous communities.
Rachael was not only raised on her traditional values but also on politics. Throughout her academic career, she volunteered for political campaigns, ranging from city council elections to presidential campaigns. She was selected as a fellow for President Barack Obama’s 2012 reelection campaign, Obama For America (OFA). She was also a part of cohort of brilliant change-makers in the Western States Center’s Western Institute for Leadership Development (WILD) and completed Emerge New Mexico in 2017.

Becky Michelson is a Boston-based strategic partnerships lead and design-researcher for social impact initiatives at The Engagement Lab at Emerson College. She is passionate about how marginalized communities can leverage participatory design and storytelling methods. Her approach incorporates design-thinking, playfulness, and qualitative research. This is why her work broadly spans from media literacy game development to civic media network building and NGO capacity building.
Trained in Cultural Anthropology at University of California Davis, Becky has applied her passion for applied ethnography to research studies on storytelling for social change. Her work has been published in media literacy and social computing journals. She has facilitated dozens of games and design-thinking strategy sessions for leadership with: the United Way, Greenpeace, the Participatory Budgeting Project, and and the Office of Science and Technology Policy under the Obama Administration. She managed the production of The Public Engagement Roadmap – a suite of creative planning resources for cities and governments.
Currently, Becky is the Program Manager for the “Make the Breast Pump Not Suck” research, hackathon, and Policy Summit. She also strategizes for several multimedia projects at the Engagement Lab at Emerson College that focus on meaningful engagement in the public sector.

Jenn Roberts is an educator, facilitator and mother who brings over 15 years of experience and passion in race and equity work. She began her career in education teaching 3rd grade in Chicago Public Schools. After teaching she went on to support new teachers in the classroom, develop curriculum for new teacher certification, and train school leaders in best practices in human capital. In 2011 she moved to DC Public Schools, where she helped to lead the DCPS Office of Human Capital in developing the will, skill, and courage to interrupt inequities and create more equitable policies and outcomes for DC students. She founded Versed Education Group in 2015 to continue this work, assisting organizations in developing their skill to operate from a place of equity as a habit. She served as the Equity and Inclusion Lead on the Make the Breast Pump Not Suck Project and is a proud alumna of Spelman College, which she credits in nurturing her desire to lead through service. Jenn lives in DC with her spunky and creative 6-year-old daughter, Nia.

Leave a Comment