I still remember how intimidated I felt when I arrived at Clara Dickson Hall, late and out of place among the other freshmen girls. I had traveled a long way from Kansas to Cornell, and I felt like I didn't belong. But that challenge, and many others, helped me grow and learn the skills I needed for my career.

I worked as a relocation specialist, a legislative specialist and a founding superintendent of two national historical parks, one of them in Seneca Falls, where I returned for the Hall of Fame ceremony.

Cornell taught me how to write, speak and think creatively. It also gave me the confidence to face any obstacle and achieve my goals.

I faced many challenges and obstacles in my journey to create the Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York. I drew inspiration from my experiences on rivers and sailboats, where I learned to adapt to different situations and avoid unnecessary conflicts.

I also learned to persist and take risks, even when the park had little funding and support from the government.

I had to move to Seneca Falls and become the founding director of the park, and I also had to recruit a celebrity, Alan Alda, to help with the opening ceremony.

I was afraid that the park would be shut down by the Secretary of the Interior, who wanted to save money by closing some national parks. But I succeeded in creating the first "idea park" in the National Park Service, a park that celebrates an idea rather than a place or a person.

The idea was women's rights, and the park honors the women who fought for them in Seneca Falls and beyond. Later, other "idea parks" followed, such as the Underground Railroad, the Japanese internment camps, and the Rosie the Riveter Park.

Many said the creation of the Women’s Rights National Historical Park was impossible.

There were 25 pivot points when the idea, the proposal, the legislation or starting up the park might have been stopped in its tracks, dead in the water. These include for example the classic way that women’s projects are derailed with a “sorry you are not on the priority list” and you know you never will be. When you are facing these assaults or sidelining speed up: jump the lines, break the rules, keep moving as fast as you can. Leap immediately through every open door; it may slam shut soon. Read about these in the book.

When you are facing impossible headwinds blocking your project, invite popular and well-loved celebrity to cut a ribbon for whatever you do have. This actor made the park real when we had very little that was real. Make something out of nothing if need be.

I want women to understand that there are forces against them, and they’re real. We can choose to live with them, react to them or fight against them, but first we need to know about them.

You can connect with Judy Hart and read more about her
via her website or on FacebookYouTube for more info.


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