the lady gang
It's been a mad struggle doing this on my own the first year, but as we move forward our growth moves outwards. We seriously can't do it by ourselves and are now thankful for our growing team. We wanted to share with you some of the amazing souls that stick their neck our for us and show up when we need them to and when we least expect them to. Thanks for all the hard work you do for us! You will forever be dope.
leah / washington, d.c.
Originally from Panama and a world-traveled Army brat, Leah Beilhart's life and work covers 17 countries and 200,000 miles across the United States. Recently, she traveled to one of the largest African slums to document young local entrepreneurs solving social and economic challenges in Kenya.
Leah started an event series for women called Behold.Her in Washington, D.C. The project brings together groups of women for roundtable discussions about topics like mental health and “sexuality + consent”, combined with individual portraits and interviews that Leah uses to document the event online. In Behold.Her’s first year, Leah grew an uplifting community for women that encourages empathy and trust among former strangers. 200 strong women were photographed and interviewed on 15 challenging topics.
"You may not know how to love yourself and you may not know how to forgive yourself, but walk into a community that will show you that you’re worth it. And if you have trouble knowing where those people are, make time to recenter and evaluate why you’re doing what you’re doing and value those who value you for what you bring to the table, on good or bad days. We're here to help you shine, not invite you in and leave you in the corner of the room to look at your phone. I found myself on the other end of the stick not being given a chance because my appearance somehow dictated my personality. I grew tired of my mindset. It put things into perspective, that my insecurities, my self-doubts, were spurred by this never ending cycle to be tormented by my own thoughts exclaiming that I wasn’t good enough. I'm telling you now, that you're good enough and we love you for you and adore your uniqueness because that's what makes everything of fucking blast."
Vanessa / washington, d.c.
Brazilian bred, Maryland born. This young lady rolled into the team with no seatbelt. We're hella thrilled that this curly-sue joined us and fills the room with contagious laughter. Plus, she's def got more courage than we do rolling in with a septum piercing (eek!!!! can't do it!). On the silly side of things we asked 'Nessa (she gets weird when ya call her that, so we do it all the time for funsies) so share her favorite foods (because we seriously can't ever have any gathering without eating).
"Despite suspecting myself of being lactose intolerant, my favorite foods in the world are cheese-heavy. Pizza is number one (Ledo’s, every damn day), cheeseburgers are a close second, and there is a Brazilian snack called pão de queijo, which just means cheese bread. Also, I have the ability to demolish hard shell tacos while driving and not drop a. single. piece. Uncanny, I know. "
On a deeper level, we asked what Vanessa would say to her younger self...
"I would tell myself that it’s okay to be afraid of things. That anxiety is something I would learn to live with and it doesn’t mean that I’m damaged. I would tell myself that some of my insecurities would go away soon, but that I should never forget having them because of the perspective it would offer me in the future when talking to others about how they feel about themselves. I would tell myself that things won’t ever stop being hard, but that I also wouldn’t stop getting stronger. Focusing on growth and learning from painful experiences is the only way to make sure they weren’t pointless. That even though it was rough, it still meant something. Shit is gonna suck sometimes, but ALL of my experiences would shape me into somebody that would one day look at herself in the mirror and be genuinely proud of what she saw."
haleluya / WASHINGTON, D.C.
Rocking in from Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, her most embarrassing decision has been a growing pride of action. As a college dropout, she felt defeated and inadequate, even with three jobs, she was struggling to get back into school and live away from her home. But with a crazy ass amount of determination, she fell upon an industry that she crushes everyday. It fueled her extroverted personality allowing her to thrive in some of her passions: meeting new people, trying new things, creating new memories, and learning new ways. "The point is, do you. Take risks and get after shit." Her time out of college gave her a competitive swing and she's in the grind creating captivating event experiences in Washington, D.C. and beyond.
Plus, she's kind of weird, and we like weird here. "I can open beer bottles with my teeth, so I’m your favorite party guest, obviously. I guess you can say I started with bottles of soda as a teen and escalated. Also, I can crack literally every joint in my body. That, perhaps, does not make me your favorite party guest, but I suppose they can cancel out."
We asked Hal what motivates her to motivate others and she was alllll likeeeee, "I remember a time when I could count -- on one hand -- the number of people who believed in me and the decisions I was making for my future. Even less were the people who motivated me in the continued pursuit of my dreams. Without those people and their positive motivation, I wouldn’t have had enough fight in me to finally be living my dream. I am motivated to motivate others because I have received first hand insight that you need support in order to grow, and I would love to pay it forward by being the helping hand to whomever needs it."
olivia / new york city
Born and raised in DC, this Washington native ventured off recently to make moves in NYC! Don't let the blue eyes and blonde hair fool you. Olivia took a gap year after high school and studied Spanish in Spain and Italy and then ventured off to Argentina for four years. Though she notes that her spirit animal is a hummingbird, this energy filled human likes to spend her chill time reading and diving in deep with an addictive TV show.
Weird fact? Ms. Amter is notorious for scoping out opportunities to be a part of medical studies at the National Institute of Health, including being a participant in multiple (light) electric shock studies and has even donated bone marrow.
Olivia is part of our OG. She was present for our impromptu gathering of women that ignited the idea of developing it into a series. "Since then Behold.Her has been a way for me to make amazing new friends in DC and feel connected to a badass group of ladies. Although I'm in NYC, I am SO proud to spread the message and can't wait for Behold to come here!"
Elle / washington, d.c.
After spending time in the Navy, this go-getter realized the military wasn't for her. Straight outta Kansas (don't ask her about Totto ya'll), she spent time learning Arabic and then switched gears by working as a government contractor. "Soul-sucking boredom ensued." So, she decided to switch careers when her kid was born and returned to college when she was 30. She obtained her degree in residential construction, which came to be her true passion. If you haven't seen her place, she's kicking ass recreating the kitchen and expanding other rooms in the house. We were lucky to have her during one of our events, where she coincidentally got hella connected with one of our other teammates, Leslie. They're inseparable and we love it.
We asked Elle why she found that honesty and transparency was important to her amongst women and deez are her words:
"Being able to drop the facade of “everything’s perfect and I’m fine” and getting real about your shit. We’re programmed to think that if we’re not airbrushed and happy all damn day that there’s something wrong with us, but it’s so empowering to get real with other women and connect on an honest level."
leslie brand / silver spring, maryland
This Puerto Rican - Ecuadorian has been thriving in that Air Force life until her most recent years after her walk down the Wounded Warrior path. In her 14+ years of service she has learned two foreign languages, Russian and Azeri, and has studied Arabic, Korean, and Portuguese. We don't know how difficult it is for her to venture out to the doctors often, but we do know she doesn't hang on her own. "I definitely sleep with a Hello Kitty doll from Build-a-Bear. She is a “gingerbread man” complete with buttons and icing on her arms and legs. She has been with me through all of my surgeries, ICU stays, and ER visits. That’s my homegirl (insert smirking shifty eye emoji). I am such a child, whateva... that’s just me!" Outside from Hello Kitty, a lot of Behold women have her back - duh. We know that stuffed bread has nothing on us.
Leslie shows the hell up, even on her worst days. But there's something that keeps her rolling and showing up for other women.
"My life experiences and my current circumstances have changed my perspective on life. It is unfortunate that sometimes it takes tragic events for us to truly evaluate what is important and realize how fragile life really is. I definitely use my second chance at life to motivate others. I want to touch people’s lives and remind them to take a moment really appreciate the good things in life. There are plenty of reasons to not believe in the sweetness of life, there is so much pain in the world. I like to flip to the script and challenge others to seek out the beautiful things around them, dig deep and find at least one thing that sparkles, one thing that brings them back to a place of gratitude and peace."
ROSE / washington, d.c.
Events Coordinator fellow
Birthed in Nairobi, Kenya and drove in straight from Denver, Colorado. This new transplant wasn't shy about approaching us and standing her ground about her passion with storytelling. But don't let her appearance fool you. We found out that as of 2011(ish), Rose is eligible for citizenship to not only Kenya (her homeland what whaaaaat?!) but also to Canada (eh?!). "My dad – the aforementioned scientist who brought us to East Africa in 1989, was born in Canada and apparently upon further review makes me eligible for that Maple studded passport. So in effect, I could wield 3 passports. Essentially, I’m James Bond. Without the cheeky accent. And gadgets."
Obviously we care about dah ladies, so we pulled out some thangs from Rose about why she believes it's important to support other women...
"Because explaining period cramps to men is like explaining the color blue to a blind person. There is an inherent connection between women that I don’t see as getting sufficient positive support. Yes, some women are difficult, sloppy, cruel or altogether psychotic, but women are women- and that’s a beautiful thing. I believe that as a woman I am worthy, and want to emulate that worth by supporting other women.
Framed within in a western context, women on women relationships are often portrayed as being motivated by selfish, sexual-driven intentions and that they are menacing, crude and just flat out misleading. Don’t get me wrong, I can quote (ad nauseam) scenes of Mean Girls and am all too familiar with its ironic humor- but this narrative needs a slap in the face. The reality is that women are strong, heroic creatures deserving of support and care. If I can position myself in such a way that I am not only surrounded by that kind of positivity and energy, but exude it through my intentional actions, then dammit I do believe women should rule the world."