Last year, developer / green entrepreneur / sustainable Milwaukee advocate Juli Kaufmann was honored with the Milwaukee Business Journal's Women of Influence award.
This year, she served as the keynote speaker at the event which took place on Friday, June 20 at the Wisconsin Center. About 900 business executives were present and the 2014 winners included Children's Hospital’s Peggy Troy and Lynn Sprangers of Mount Mary University.
Kaufmann’s speech created an incredible amount of buzz both locally and internationally for a few reasons. For one, it rhymed. Secondly, it was well written – upbeat and yet hard hitting.
But most of all, the success of the presentation was rooted in the fact that, although honored by the recognition, Kaufmann critiqued the concept of an award based on gender and reminded how much more needs to be done for women to obtain equality.
Here is her funny, courageous, honest poem / speech.
What do I say, what do I think?I have no idea except I could really use a drink.
Look at this room. You’d all get my vote. What can I possibly say that hits the right key note?
So OK, fine I’ll give it a whirl - I’ll regale you with my passions, my wisdom-filled pearls.
Work for the earth, hug the trees, fight for social justice, save the bees.
Share the bikes, grow healthy food, invest in local business before we’re all screwed.
Save a tree, yeah whatever. I saw a few of you yawn. This crowd could save a forest before the break of dawn.
My passions, your passions. Each of us sets a high bar. Been there, done that. We’ve all come so far.
So seriously then, what should I say? Can the words of my mother guide me today?
She’d say to honor and praise. My mom, she’s so wise.
We know how much you matter. Your work changes lives.
How about my mentors on whose shoulders I stand? What inspiring words does their sacrifice demand?
I think they’d tell me to speak my truth today, to use my influence to shine the light of day.
This award is an honor it says "yes we can," but it also points out that I’m not a man.
So let’s turn the tables, and imagine with me, a Men of Influence Award. Right? That’s absurdity.
I guess our special day is just their every day. Well, I’m just a little tired of waiting to play.
I mean no disrespect. This is meaningful and grand, but more needs to be done when equality is not yet at hand.
Women have made strides in society at large, but it’s still very clear we are far from in charge.
When will we be respected the same, not judged for genetics, but paid for our game?
When will we be valued on par, not honored for gender, but for just being a star?
Let’s be acknowledged every day like him, him or him. The finish line for equality is the race I want to win.
How do we get there? We’ll start with your profound reach. We remember, we fight - and even if it’s uncomfortable - we preach.
Sure, we’re like flowers. We all came from seed, but we’re not shrinking violets, we’re tougher than weeds.
But we need men too. Where to begin? Start, by breaking us out of the boxes you put us in.
I say this for my son. And for your daughters so this next generation might drink from clean and fair waters.
No, I’m not a poet and I never will be, but I’m a person of influence. I hope you expected nothing less of me.
But, enough of my ranting. I’m done with my laments. Today, we celebrate your huge accomplishments.
Phenomenal women that’s all of you, caged birds who flew free to do the great things you do.
Milwaukee is your sphere, your chance to turn society’s page. So influence your butts off. Let’s crack open a new age.
Rise up, let’s cheer. Together we stand to our influential future. Let’s give you a hand.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published Sept. 2, 2015
It's important to have goals, so, with that in mind, OnMilwaukee senior writer Molly Snyder set a summer goal for herself: to go to all 25 bars participating in the new PubPass program. Lofty ambition, we know. Here's her review of this new concept.
Published Aug. 29, 2015
In 2014, OnMilwaukee.com reported that Shannon and Gina Stangel bought the storied bar and lounge The New Yorker, 645 N. James Lovell St., and renamed it The Mason Jar. The Stangels have changed the name and concept of the bar and hope to introduce The High Note Karaoke Lounge to the public on Friday, Sept. 4.
Published Aug. 28, 2015
Recently, South Shore Terrace - an outdoor drinking and snacking space attached to South Shore Park's pavilion - joined the seemingly-and-hopefully-ever-growing collection of Milwaukee beer gardens.
Published Aug. 27, 2015
A new bar and restaurant concept is coming to the North Avenue bar scene next week when business partners Jay Stamates and Steve Gilbertson open The Winchester in the former Two Bucks space, 2321 N. Murray Ave.
Published Aug. 25, 2015
Anyone who's visited the South Shore Farmers' Market has most likely heard John Miller cranking out sweet sounds from his barrel organ - sometimes called a street organ. This past Sunday was Miller's last local performance for awhile. He leaves Thursday for a 3 1/2-year pipe organ builder's apprenticeship in Kürten, Germany.
Published Aug. 24, 2015
A Chicago-based organization announced a #WhereKindnessCounts competition to reward people $100 for doing acts of kindness. It's time to get even kinder, Milwaukee.
Published Aug. 22, 2015
The fact that a Shorewood resident named Eric "Shake" James and Darryl McDaniels from the legendary hip hip group Run-DMC opened a shoe boutique called Clicks, 1916 E. Capitol Dr., is a compelling story. The fact that McDaniels was at Clicks today, casually meeting fans, signing autographs and telling stories, is even more unbelievable.
Published Aug. 20, 2015
Last month, OnMilwaukee.com reported on Alana Wooldrige's missing dog, Fenrir, a pitbull she adopted in New Orleans who disappeared from her yard on July 21. After weeks of searching, social media posts and daily interactions with various animal organizations, Alana and Fen were reunited tonight.
Published Aug. 20, 2015
Today, there are more than 9,000 Aldi stores in 18 countries, and 20 in the metro-Milwaukee area. Here are 10 reasons to shop there. And a couple reasons not to.
Published Aug. 19, 2015
Jason McBrady and coworkers will open High Dive in the former Impala Lounge and Riverhorse space at 701 E. Center St. A grand opening party is set for Saturday.