SHE WENT FOR HER DREAMS SPOTLIGHT: Jennifer Mandelblatt

Jennifer Mandelblatt

Co-Founder/Managing Director Platform

Tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

I am a twenty-two year old Co-Founder and the Managing Director of Platform, a lobbying group for young women to advocate for our bodies, our lives, and our futures. I work with an incredible team of women I am lucky enough to call my role models and dear friends.

The Platform team knows that in city halls, state capitals and the chambers of Congress, elected officials are making decisions about young women without listening to our voices. That is why we work to uplift and augment young women’s voices in the political process in order to advance progressively, pro-women dialogue and policies.

What is your vision for change? Why is this important to you? 

I envision a government that serves all people, protects all people, and celebrates all people. And I envision a society that does not tell a woman who she ought to be, but instead supports her in being all she is and all she can be. This is of the utmost importance to me because no one should have to defend or prove their humanity and equality.

Tell us about the defining moment when you decided to make the leap towards your dreams.

I sat on the rough idea for our Convention for an entire year before I dared to tell anyone. I was afraid they would think I was getting ahead of myself. Finally, it was bursting out of me and I invited my friends to an ambiguous get-together. With a shaky voice, I told them my idea and asked if they would begin the journey with me. I expected silence and was instead met with a chorus of "let's do this, I'm in." Three hours later we had a plan to turn that rough idea into reality.

A week after the Convention, I met with my professor & mentor to catch up, recap, and talk about "what's next." He told me that Platform should continue to be "what's next," that I should pursue it after graduation. I laughed in his face. But the moment I left I thought, "Oh no" because I knew there was no turning back. Armed with his support and confidence, I called my team and again they were ready to leap.

What is the impact you believe your work makes in the world?

I know that I will never truly understand what it means to walk in my sisters' shoes, but I have the power and responsibility to educate myself, make space for their stories and truths, and to stand by their side in the movement forward. It is that understanding that drives Platform's work: we do not aim to speak for women, but we will do all that we can to ensure their voices are heard. We are dedicated to legitimizing women’s voices that are otherwise silenced; to disrupting the notion that the masculine voice is the sole voice of a leader ; to paying tribute to the women who were jailed for speaking and those who were barred from speaking; to creating a space for women to speak without being interrupted and their words re-explained as if they did not make sense the first time; to forming a front that will stand by women’s words to protect against threats and commodification.

At Project #SWFHD we are all a work in progress but we believe in walking our own talk. Tell us how you embody the mission your work serves?

I am committed to celebrating women's accomplishments, to opening up opportunities to other women, to learning how I can better support women. I refuse to grow complacent in my own work and constantly question myself: "Is what I'm doing a productive and effective way to build up women?" "Am I using space effectively?"
Every morning I wake up knowing that I have this unbelievable opportunity to pursue this dream and I intend to do some good with that opportunity.

A big part of going for your dreams is about feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Tell us about a challenge or fear that got in the way of going for your dreams? How did you handle it?

About two weeks before the Convention, our numbers were not what we projected, there were a considerable amount of loose-ends, and I was overcome by a pervasive fear of "what in the world qualifies me to be doing this?" That day, I had a phone call with a young woman who was registered to attend and she told me what the opportunity meant to her. I received an email from a contact who said she would do a social media blast on our behalf. One of my best friends made plans to travel to D.C. and attend. My team lifted me up in more ways that I can list. All of these women, this sisterhood, renewed my faith that when women work together possibilities become limitless. And because of them, I pushed forward.

What is one piece of business advice you would give to someone starting out? 

When people believe in you and your vision, believe them. And commit yourself to living up to the potential they see. When someone doubts you and your vision, use it as an opportunity to reflect and to learn. And commit yourself to proving that you can do it, not for them but for your vision.

Do you have a favorite quote or mantra that inspires you and your business?

"In America you don't get what you don't fight for, so let the fight begin" - Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton at our Inaugural Convention.

"Sometimes I believe in as many as six impossible things before breakfast"- Alice in Wonderland

 

Learn more about Jennifer and Platform, here.

Follow Platform on social media @platformwomen