Julia Bolz is a women’s rights activist providing social guidance to countries in the Middle East, Africa, Central America, and Central Asia. She founded the Journey with an Afghan School program after 9/11 to help bridge the cultural divide between the U.S. and Afghanistan particularly by increasing the educational opportunities afforded to young women. Before joining the grassroots movement for gender equality, she worked at one of Seattle’s most prestigious law firms, Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland. She received Seattle’s Tom C. Wales Citizenship Award for her combined humanitarian efforts. Bolz graduated from Smith College.
Julia Bolz: Well I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. And one of the things about Madison is it’s about as stable as it can possibly be here in the United States. But one of the things about Madison is that “international” tends to be Iowa. And when I decided I was interested in practicing internationally, I ended up having to move away from Madison to go to one of the various coasts. But what Madison gave me was a greater grounding and a stability that allows me to have the confidence to move on to other parts of the world.My family was a great influence. My mother and father were involved with lots of activities – volunteer activities in the community, as were my grandparents. And they really showed me that serving the community was an extremely important value.
Question: What did you think you'd be doing professionally when you grew up?
Julia Bolz: I had many ambitions. I first thought I would become a doctor. And in fact I applied to medical school. I subsequently have been working as a lawyer, and here I am serving almost as a public speaker and advocate for kids.