Since the day he was born, Astronaut Harrison has had some amazing women as role models in his life. His mom (and my incredible in every single way wife Jessica), a Licensed Social Worker and now Chief of Education at the VA here in Columbus. His "Nana" PJ who is a retired Methodist Minister and elementary school secretary. His other Grandma who is a nurse and runs a training business for home health aides. For his entire life, he has seen that women are as capable (or in the case of my wife and many other women I know) more capable than men and it is my goal in life to make sure that he knows that education, job/pay, talent, and skill have nothing to do with the chromosomes you are born with, the clothes you wear, or the the restroom that you use.
Over the past two years of exploring with Astronaut Harrison, we have met a LOT of amazing women in the fields of Science, Arts, Education and Government and we wanted to share some of our favorites today in honor of International Women's Day 2018.
In Washington DC we met Holly Gardner (@golightly) who is a picture taker, community builder, and founder of the insanely popular @IGDC Instagram group. Holly was instrumental in helping Astronaut Harrison and I exhibit our show last year at the SW Arts Club (@blindWhino). She also helped us get access to visit and photograph in several DC locations as well as introduce us to members of the amazing community of photographers there.
While in DC last Spring we also met Jillianne Pierce (@jilliannesays) who describes herself as a "Globetrotting space nerd". She works in aerospace on Capitol Hill, gets to go to the best astronaut parties and loves to travel. During our visit with her last Summer we rode the Metro, had coffee and took a few pics in the office of a Member of Congress. That blog post will be coming soon!
Lastly in DC are our good friends @tinyhumansofDC. This is our absolute favorite IG account in DC of a mother and two daughters as they explore DC and beyond. If you are in DC and see adorable kids running by rocking pink capes, it's probably them and they are most likely on their way to a place worth visiting!
While our plans to explore together on our last trip fell through due to a much needed nap by a certain astronaut, we did get meet and see how Harry's helmet looked when paired with their exploring gear at our gallery event last May.
One of the many people that Holly Gardner introduced us to in DC was Sharon Yang (@syang) who works in politics & government at Facebook and does an amazing job of documenting her many trips to international destinations through photography both behind and in front of the camera.
Sharon also graciously set up astronaut Harrison's visit to Facebook HQ during our trip to NYC last May (and he still is insisting that I build him a tiny office on wheels like the one we saw while there).
Also in New York City last summer, while there for work without Astronaut Harrison, I took a break and rode the subway from Greenwich Village to Columbia University lugging an astronaut helmet with me to meet Summer Ash (@sumrtime) who was the Director of Outreach for Columbia University's Department of Astronomy and freelance science writer and a co-founder of both STARtorialist and Astronomy on Tap.
In addition to being one of the most enthusiastic science communicators I have ever met (and the second biggest Spacecamp and Harry Potter fan I know after astronaut Harrison), Summer also shares her personal struggle with recovery after serious health issues in such a beautiful and heart-breaking way through her Instagram posts. She finds art and science that speak directly to her experience and shares that in a way that has an incredibly strong impact. Thank you Summer for your openness and honesty in sharing your journey and for being such a strong role model!
Another truly amazing woman we are proud to call our friend is Kendra Toole (@astrokendra). She describes herself as a "Spacer, baker, maker, blogger, explorer, and social entrepreneur". We met Kendra during our Kickstarter in 2016 when she e-mailed asking if Astronaut Harrison would like to visit the Orbital ATK (@orbital_atk) facility near Washington, DC. She also helped us spread the word about our project and hit our Kickstarter goal. In addition to working on rockets for @blueorigin she is a social entrepreneur helping to empower women in Uganda through employment opportunities. They offer stationery, accessories and home goods hand crafted in Uganda. Visit @bamatookemade to find out more.
Thanks to all of the women who inspire Astronaut Harrison and I through their work, social media feeds, Art, and community outreach. If you know someone Astronaut Harrison should meet either here in Columbus, or while traveling on our adventures, please take a second to e-mail us!