Lisa Witter is the chief operating officer of Fenton Communications, the largest public interest communications firm in the country. She heads the firm's practice in women's issues and global affairs for clients including Women for Women International, MoveOn.org, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucille Packard Foundation, the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association and many others. She is a co-founder of the award-winning website SheSource.org, an online brain trust of women experts to help close the gender gap among commentators in the news media. She was honored as an outstanding activist and expert on women's issues by Oxygen.com for her work on a national campaign against privatizing Social Security during the 2000 presidential election. Lisa is a blogger and political commentator with her work appearing on MSNBC, Fox News, The Huffington Post, AlterNet and Anderson Cooper 360. In 2004, she was a contestant on the Showtime reality show American Candidate. Witter is co-author of The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World and How to Reach Them.
She is on the advisory board for Indianapolis University's Women and Philanthropy Institute, Pop!Tech, Momsrising.org, Women for Women International and Climate Counts.
Question: What inspired you to write your book?
Lisa Witter: There were two very distinct moments that I was inspired by to write this book, one I do a lot of work in the women’s and politics space, so I got a call from an organization to come up with a website for a women’s get out the vote day and I said “Great” and I sent it out to the designer and it came back pink, full of flowers and I said “There’s really something missing here, this is not why I’m involved in politics is because I’m, you know, want everything pink, this is very, very weird” and they said “No, no, this is what we want, we wanna really be upbeat and sort of girly” and I said “I like being upbeat and girly but it doesn’t have to be pink and frivolous,” I mean I think about being a woman as being very strong, I think Hillary Clinton has definitely cemented that into all of our minds and the next part of our conversation was “Oh we’re having a women’s get out the vote day, a Latino get out the vote day, a disabled people get out the vote day” and I was thinking, women are the gender gap in the last-- from every election since 1960, we have decided every president more women have voted the men. We are not a niche audience, we are not a special interest, we are the interest that needs to be catered to, so okay how do you communicate differently with women than you do men, so that was the first story. The second story is I was up on the upper east side of New York at a large donor event for a gentleman who is running for president. I’m not a large donor myself but I was invited to be in this very exclusive room, mostly with Wall Street guys and I said, you know, Mr. Wannabe President “What do you think issues are important to me?” and he looked me right in the eye and he said “I know that protecting, you know, the women’s right to choose and families, that’s what’s really important to you” and I thought, you know, yeah it’s really important to me but it’s like 14th on my list, like I want us to get out of Iraq, I wanna have a stronger economy, I want universal health care. So these assumptions that A all women are pink and B that we only care about abortion, just like blew my mind. So I started doing some research on what the private sector had been doing because, you know, in the political and non-profit world, we often are looking at trends and there’s a bunch of really seminal information out there about how corporations have really changed how they market. Women make 83% of the consumer decisions, we are 59% of the primary voters, we volunteer more than men do, we have 51% of the wealth, we’re really the ones who have the power to change the world, yet I think we and men are sort of stuck in this old paradigm that it’s a man’s world, it’s not. And it’s not that women want it to be a women’s world, we want it to be a man and women’s world together. So I started doing research for the book and I said it has to be written and I want it to be the first book ever that really addresses this from a political and a non-profit section and my coauthor, Lisa Chen and I have been in this non-profit work for over 25 years, so we’re able to get case studies from, you know, the NRDC and Code Pink and Women for Women International. So we’re to highlight our expertise and really give concrete advice about how to communicate differently with women than man.