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 July 24, 2017
OnMilwaukee unofficially declared last week "Loose Ends Week." This means a bunch of sh*t got done and a bunch didn't.
Published July 22, 2017
Bay View's Bounce Milwaukee is as much of a grown-up destination as it is a kid zone. Adults can jump, slide, laser, climb, box, play video games, sumo wrestle and more, in between drinking beers or cocktails and eating healthy (or not healthy) food.
Published July 20, 2017
Nic and Nicole Quiles plan to open Milwaukee's first Autism-friendly community café - called Caban's Cafe - in October 2017.
Published July 17, 2017
This past weekend, artist Mauricio Ramirez and the Walker's Point neighborhood honored the life and career of Selena with the installation of a new conceptual mural "Anything for Selena."
Published July 17, 2017
It's completely, unofficially Loose Ends Week. Let's get some sh*t done and feel good about ourselves.
Published July 14, 2017
Guy Rehorst - the founder and owner of Great Lakes Distillery - became curious about distilling after homebrewing what he describes as "a really bad batch of beer." Today, he owns the state's first distillery since Prohibition.
Published July 14, 2017
A Chicago Tribune reporter challenged three Chicago craft brewers to a blind taste test of 16 "macro" beers. Guess who prevailed?
Published July 13, 2017
"The Race of Gentlemen" (known as "TROG"), is the latest traveling exhibit at the Harley-Davidson Museum and combines hotrods, motorcycles, carnivals and nostalgia. It runs through Labor Day weekend.
Published July 12, 2017
Katie Gingrass, who owned the Katie Gingrass Gallery in Milwaukee's Third Ward since 1980, quietly closed shop this weekend with the help of her family.
Published July 11, 2017
The Crimson Club, a "healthy" nightclub, restaurant and venue at 7211 W. Greenfield Ave., will open in August.