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Meet the Next MAKERS: Lydia, Reshma and Jill

We shared with you the names of the six Next MAKERS. Now let's get to know them! Here is a look at the first three Next MAKERS: Lydia Cincore-Templeton, Reshma Saujani, and Col. Jill Chambers, selected from over 1,200 inspirational women from across the country. Check out the gallery for pictures of these extraordinary women as they received their award from MAKERS Amy Richards, Robin Morgan, and Brenda Berkman. Over the next month, we'll be providing you with updates on the Next MAKERS, take you inside their shoots, and inside their celebration.
Lydia Cincore-Templeton has dedicated her own life to making life more fair and more equal for foster and at-risk youth. Her organization started with a Christmas party that she threw at her law firm for her foster children clients, after she realized that these kids were not looking forward to the holiday the way other children do.  The party was such a success that she evolved it into a mentoring program, recruiting couples and families to spend time each month with individual youth. Pretty soon, she realized that wasn’t enough either—mentoring was great, but it wasn’t helping these kids get an education or get jobs. So she grew the organization into a tutoring and support services collaborative, bringing together the schools, social agencies, families and communities to support every need, of every child, before and after emancipation.
Starting with 25 foster and at-risk youth, the program now reaches over 5,000, and has dramatically closed the achievement gap for these kids.  It has now been adopted by all school districts in LA County, and Lydia hopes to bring it to a national scale.
When Reshma Saujani was growing up, her parents would read to her from the biographies of Gandhi and other great leaders and activists.  They had been expelled from Uganda under Idi Amin, and they impressed on their daughter the importance of political participation to safeguard our rights and equality.  So Reshma decided to be a politician when she was twelve, and had that goal in mind when she attended Yale Law School (Gandhi had been a lawyer!), and later when she left her lucrative corporate law job to run for Congress in 2010. Although she lost that race, one loss is hardly going to stop her.  She is the former Deputy Public Advocate for New York City and is running for Public Advocate in next year’s election.
Reshma’s time campaigning also introduced her a new mission – closing the gender gap in STEM education.  She founded “Girls Who Code” to teach girls from low-income areas computer science and inspire them to pursue careers in engineering and technology, an area where there will be a huge number of jobs in the coming years and but appallingly few female graduates.  This first summer, the program had 20 remarkable girls, all of whom now say they want to major in computer science.  As Reshma observes, girls often shy away from computer science because “girls want to change the world,” and they don’t see computers as a way to do it.  Yet one of the girls this summer designed an algorithm to diagnose cancer, another is helping her local neighborhood businesses build websites… they are all fast on their way to changing the world, just like Reshma. 
Colonel Jill Chambers survived the September 11th attacks on the Pentagon, but in the months and years following the attacks she began having trouble sleeping, having nightmares of burning planes. Not surprisingly she felt exhausted all day long.
It was only years later that she realized she was suffering from post-traumatic stress, or PTSD. She had been asked by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen to travel the country for 18 months, talking to returning servicemen and women. As these men and women opened up to her she began to see that they, like her, had “invisible wounds” and that it was time we started talking about it. When she returned, she helped to develop the military’s “Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program”. Comprehensive fitness finally meant mental resiliency as well.
She has devoted herself to removing the stigma too often attached to post-traumatic stress and mental health in the military, so that the military can take the problem head on and better protect and heal the heroes who protect us.
Check back to meet the next three.

Tags: Next Makers