Out magazine just published their third annual list of “The Power 50: The Most Powerful Gay Men and Women in America,” which means it’s time for my third annual list of The Most Powerful Lesbian Moms in America.
The definition of “power” is subjective, of course. For the purposes of this list, I considered it to mean someone who is known by a large cross-section of the population, within or outside the lesbian community, is at or near the top of her chosen profession, or who is in some other way a well-known personality and long-time influencer. I aimed for inclusion rather than exclusion, but tried to pick those whose impact in their fields or in the world at large is widespread and lasting. I intend this to be a fun list, not to be taken too seriously, so let me know if I’ve missed anyone you deem worthy.
I’m including the names of partners, even if one person is not as well known, in order to acknowledge the contributions of both people to their households and to each others’ achievements. (I may have missed a few partners, however, if their names are not public, and blurred matters if one partner came along when the children were older. I was not able to find last names and professions for a few others. Someday I’ll be able to hire that research staff.)
Out only has 12 women on their list, two less than last year, so I’m hoping my suggestions may help them find a better balance. If I can come up with the names of over 50 powerful people who are not only lesbians but also moms (a few less if we omit less-known partners), surely Out can add some more lesbians to its Power 50. Out gave more weight to political clout in all its picks, whereas I looked at overall clout, political or professional. And yes, the balance of power still swings male in our society, so maybe it’s not Out’s fault. But still, I can’t believe the balance is so skewed.
I’ll also add that we must each define success for ourselves. It may mean choosing to stay home with one’s children, or to forgo career advancement for the sake of one’s family. For those who strive to achieve in both career and family, however, these moms are inspirational.
Of course, the thing about motherhood is that your kids always think you’re the most powerful mom(s) in the world, and it’s their opinions that really matter.
In alphabetic, not rank, order by last name of the generally more well-known partner:
- Susan Arnold, former vice chair and president of global business units at Proctor & Gamble, and Diana Salter (profession unknown)
- Amanda Bearse, actor and director
- Elizabeth Birch, LGBT-rights advocate and former head of HRC
- Lisa Brummel, senior vice president for human resources, Microsoft
- Beth Callaghan, co-founder of Our Chart; director of Web operations, for technology site All Things D, and former editor-in-chief of PlanetOut
- Greta Cammermeyer, Colonel, Washington National Guard (ret.) and LGBT-rights activist, and Diane Divelbess, artist
- Ilene Chaiken, creator and executive producer of The L Word
- Debra Chasnoff, Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker
- Mary Cheney, public relations executive, political campaigner, and vice-presidential daughter, and Heather Poe, former U.S. Park Ranger
- Cat Cora, “Iron Chef,” and Jennifer Cora (profession unknown)
- Judy Dlugacz, founder and president of Olivia, and Rachel (last name and profession unknown)
- Karla Drenner, Georgia State Representative
- Amy Errett, partner, Maveron (a venture capital firm), former CEO of Olivia, former chief asset gathering officer, E*Trade, and Clare (last name and profession unknown)
- Melissa Etheridge, musician, and Tammy Lynn Etheridge née Michaels, actor
- Jodie Foster, actor, and Cydney Bernard, film producer (I’m adding their names with the caveat that it is debatable whether Foster’s thanking of “my beautiful Cydney” during a speech in 2008 was meant as a coming out, and whether the two split later that year per tabloid rumors. Their children bear both their names, however, which to me is indicative enough to warrant their inclusion here.)
- Jenny Fulle, executive vice president of production and executive producer of Sony Pictures Imageworks, and pioneer in opening up Little League to girls
- Sara Gilbert, actor, and Alison Adler, TV producer
- Judy Gold, stand-up comedian and two-time Emmy Award-winning writer and producer of The Rosie O’Donnell Show
- Lisa Henderson, general manager, Olivia, and partner (name and profession unknown)
- Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, chief executive officer of The San Diego LGBT Community Center, and Dr. Heather Berberet
- Nina Jacobson, film producer, currently at DreamWorks SKG, and formerly president of Walt Disney Motion Pictures Group
- Cheryl Jacques, administrative judge for the Massachusetts Department of Industrial Accidents, former head of HRC, and former Massachusetts State Senator, and Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council
- Jolie Justus, Missouri state senator
- Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Sandy Holmes (profession unknown)
- Honey Labrador, designer, television personality, and former model, and Nikki Flux, actor
- Annie Leibowitz, photographer
- Dr. Susan Love, president and medical director of the Dr. Susan Love Research Foundation, and leader of the breast cancer advocacy movement, and Dr. Helen Cooksey, surgeon
- Del Martin (d. August 2008) and Phyllis Lyon, activists
- Mary Beth Maxwell, candidate for labor secretary and founding Executive Director of American Rights at Work
- Cynthia Nixon, actor, and Christine Marinoni, education activist
- Rosie O’Donnell, actor and television personality, and Kelli O’Donnell, founder of R Family Vacations and former Nickelodeon marketing executive
- Hilary Rosen political commentator and former head of the Recording Industry of America (RIAA)
- E. Denise Simmons, mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Mattie Hayes
- Kara Swisher, Wall Street Journal columnist, co-executive editor of technology site All Things D, and Megan Smith, vice president of new business development at Google
- Sheryl Swoopes, professional basketball player and three-time Olympic gold medalist, and Alisa Scott, former basketball player and coach
- Linda Villarosa, author, journalist, public speaker, former editor of the New York Times and former executive editor of Essence Magazine, and Jana Welch, marketing executive
Anyone I missed? Can you help fill in gaps in the information (partners’ names and/or professions, if public)? Leave a comment (with a link to your source, if possible).