Third-Annual Women’s Spotlight Event Showcases Both Diversity And Commonality

Last Friday, the Minnesota Lynx honored four incredible women doing great work in the Twin Cities community at the third-annual Women’s Spotlight event, presented by Rasmussen College. Each of the women that were honored are change-makers, creators, teachers and role models for us all in their own way.

At the event, hosted by Rebekkah Brunson and KARE 11’s Jana Shortal, these four influential women were introduced by a short video and answered some brief questions from Shortal before the entire panel discussed themes of equity, perseverance, equality and hope for the future.

A little bit about each of the women honored:

Ann Kim is the head chef and founder of Young Joni, Hello Pizza and Pizzeria Lola, and a fixture of the Twin Cities culinary community working to change the culture of the food industry while creating incredible, innovative food.

Kelly Holstine was Minnesota’s 2018 Teacher of the Year, the first out teacher to receive the award. Working as a language arts teacher at the Takota Learning Center, she helps students who have had trouble in more traditional educational environments reach new heights and grow into better students and people.

Deborah Jiang-Stein, founder of the unPrison Project, works with incarcerated women to teach life skills and foster hope for a better future when they leave prison. Her organization has reached 10 percent of incarcerated women in the U.S.

Finally, Hannah Brandt of the Minnesota Whitecaps and an Olympic gold medalist, helped organize the USWNT boycott of the 2017 World Championships in protest of U.S.A. Hockey’s unequal treatment of the men’s and women’s national teams. The boycott ended with a successful renegotiation of the women’s team’s contracts.

With so many leaders in their respective fields in one room, everyone in attendance at the event walked away having learned something new, including the participants.

“I always try and tell myself that I can do anything, but I do realize that there are challenges in terms of being a woman and gender inequality. I learned a lot of that from these three women—in sports, in education, in the prison system,” said Kim. “There are challenges that men don’t have to face. That’s something that really struck me and I hope those things can change.”

Director of Lynx Business Operations Carley Knox thought the event was a huge success. It’s only the beginning of very big things the Lynx have planned for their platform and for the event.

“I think for us with the Minnesota Lynx and the WNBA as a whole, we’re really using sport as a vehicle of change and trying to change the world for the better and fight for all marginalized groups,” said Knox. “Each of these incredible women are using their own platforms and in their own fields that they’re working within to change the world as well, so we have that synergy that we’re all fighting as strong powerful women to make the world a better place.”

It’s that common experience and purpose even among women from very different disciplines that makes this event so special. The power of people from different backgrounds all working towards a common goal can’t be understated.

“We’ll continue on for the event next year and have our fourth annual Women’s Spotlight Event and just continue to embrace strong, powerful, girls and women but also enlightened men that are a part of change in the world because I think it’s important to include everybody,” said Knox. “So just to bring everybody together, we’re in this together, we’re all in a movement.”