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The Greater goop Awards:
The Activists

Fighting for the rights of women and children is a grueling, uphill, often decades-long battle—and it’s one that doesn’t come with a whole lot of glory. Except for the families whose lives have been forever changed.

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  • Jose Andres Headshot
  • José Andrés

    Chef and Founder, World Central Kitchen

    José Andrés has nightmares about the days that followed Hurricane Katrina.

    “We could have helped a lot of people if there had been chefs in the stadium serving meals,” says Andrés, the Michelin-starred chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup.

    So in 2017, four days after Hurricane Maria decimated part of Puerto Rico, Andrés wasn’t going to make the same mistake again. He got on a plane.

    “I knew that in the first days after the hurricane, there would be a real need for people to eat and feel like they were being cared for,” he says. “To me, the best way to show that is with a hot meal.” There he was, amid the splintered wood and crushed houses: stirring huge vats of arroz con pollo. He and a group of volunteers cooked and served 1,000 meals that first day. And in the months that followed, 3 million more.

    There were obstacles, of course—“so many roadblocks that we had to constantly be thinking strategically about how to keep the mission moving forward”—but that didn’t deter Andrés. Chaos is hardly new to the chef. In fact, chaos is where he thrives.

    In 2010, the chaos of life in Haiti after the earthquake is what inspired Andrés to create his nonprofit, World Central Kitchen, a network of chefs, entrepreneurs, and humanitarians across the globe that works to alleviate poverty, teach people culinary skills, and feed people in need. And it’s everywhere. Teaching kitchen sanitation practices in Peru and Nicaragua. Investing in beehives and beehive equipment in the Dominican Republic. Feeding asylum seekers along the US-Mexico border. If there’s a conflict or a humanitarian need, chances are you’ll see UNICEF trucks, Red Cross tents—and Andrés: khaki military vest, ladle in hand, smile on his face, doing what he does best.

    It’s almost easy to forget how skilled he is as a world-class chef. He has twenty-six acclaimed restaurants across the globe and two Michelin stars. It’s also why he’s nominated for a 2019 Nobel Peace Prize and holds the James Beard Foundation’s humanitarian of the year honor for 2018. Says Andrés: “Chefs and cooks, we have a very simple talent: give us a kitchen, some ingredients, and we will feed people.”

  • Marcia Robinson Lowry Headshot
  • Marcia Robinson Lowry

    FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, A BETTER CHILDHOOD

    Marcia Robinson Lowry once had a poster on her wall that read: “While there is a lower class, I am in it. While there is a criminal element, I am of it. And while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.”

    To many of us, that would have been the end of the story: activism by poster. But to Lowry, those words (by twentieth-century political activist Eugene V. Debs) were a call to arms.

    Lowry has been fighting for children—wronged, neglected, abused—for more than four decades. As the director of the Children’s Rights Project, she went to battle with New York City to overhaul its child welfare system (prompted by a horrifying case of a girl beaten, starved, and locked in a closet). She went head-to-head with Washington, D.C., to change its foster care program. She battled to keep kids safer in New Jersey, Kentucky, and Wisconsin.

    Her work isn’t political and it isn’t partisan. It’s about humanity. It’s driven by the belief that kids deserve to be safe, and they deserve a chance. And if they’re shuffled from home to home in a system that abuses them from a young age, they get neither.

    That’s why, in 2014, Lowry founded A Better Childhood. At ABC, she and her team work with government officials, local organizations, childcare experts, and policy analysts to develop new ways to change—to improve—the system. And her advocacy work has led to greater monetary support and increased watchful care of child welfare agencies. Lowry is currently leading eighteen class-action cases across the US. And with more than 440,000 children in the foster care system on any given day (according to the Children’s Bureau), it’s safe to assume Lowry has no plans to slow down.

  • Brittany Packnett Headshot

    Reginald Cunningham of Pure Black Photos

  • Brittany Packnett

    cofounder, Campaign Zero

    Campaign Zero is a policy platform to end police violence. It was cofounded by four activists in 2015 (including DeRay Mckesson, the author of On the Other Side of Freedom, who was on The goop Podcast this fall). One cofounder is Brittany Packnett.

    Packnett has become a voice that many of us listen for. She has spoken out and spoken up about young women of color in leadership (watch her Tedx Talk), why a lack of gun control disproportionately affects people of color (start with her Twitter feed), and the challenge of protest and policy (read her Politico piece). Of course, none of these issues requires any sort of apology from Packnett. But her take (on Elle.com) on why she grew up never asking for any apologies owed to her did change the way we think about what women, and specifically women of color, have long deserved but been denied: “As a black woman, speaking up about the needs of others would win me applause; speaking up for myself would earn me punishment.”

    A Ferguson protestor, Packnett served on the Ferguson Commission but missed the first meeting. Granted, she had a good excuse. She had been called to the White House to meet with President Obama. Afterward, she was appointed to his Task Force on 21st Century Policing. (She served alongside Bryan Stevenson, the well-known civil rights lawyer, whom we also had on The goop Podcast this year.) Packnett brought the group’s policy recommendations (and more) to Campaign Zero, which continues to provide activists and policymakers with tools to address police violence, some of which have become reflected in our laws. (Click to get involved or support Campaign Zero.)

    Oh, and she has a day job: Packnett is Teach for America’s VP of national community alliances; she leads partnerships and civil rights work with communities of color. (Earlier in her career—Packnett hasn’t even hit her mid-thirties yet—she was an elementary teacher, a legislative staffer, an education policy advocate, and an executive director for TFA St. Louis. For more on how Packnett is shaping the future of education, watch her on this Center for American Progress panel on reforming public schools’ approach to disciplining students of color.)

    In November 2018, Packnett sold her first book idea. It’s being billed as part personal narrative and part anthology, with a collection of speeches by famous black women. We’ll be waiting for the preorder announcement.

  • Marc Benioff Headshot
  • Marc Benioff

    founder and co-ceo, salesforce

    Even if Marc Benioff acted like every other Silicon Valley CEO, he would probably still stand out because of his shoes: Benioff is a sneaker aficionado; the custom kicks he wears to his company’s annual conference (Dreamforce) make the news. But Benioff has always done things differently.

    At fourteen, Benioff sold his first piece of software, How to Juggle, to a computer magazine. A year later, he founded his own company, Liberty Software; he made video games. In college, he did a summer programming internship at Apple, and after graduating, he got a job in customer support at Oracle. At twenty-six, he was a VP at Oracle (the youngest VP in company history). Thirteen years later, he left Oracle and founded Salesforce, where he’s now chairman and co-CEO. In the late ’90s, Salesforce’s approach to cloud computing was revolutionary, and it became massive (Fortune 500; 32,000 employees; don’t worry if you don’t totally understand the cloud).

    But from day one, Benioff had another vision for Salesforce. It’s called the 1-1-1 model of philanthropy: 1 percent of employee time goes to volunteering, and 1 percent each of Salesforce’s profits and resources go to charity. (Other companies—8,500 of them—have since pledged 1 percent as well.) The company has given $240 million in grants and donated products to more than 39,000 nonprofits and higher education institutions, and its employees have clocked in over 3.5 million volunteer hours. In 2016, Salesforce looked at the salaries of more than 17,000 of its employees to see whether men and women were being paid equally. The company spent about $3 million to eliminate the differences it found. It did another assessment in 2017, also looking at race and ethnicity this time. It spent $3 million again. And in 2018, it spent another $2.7 million to correct pay differences.

    This past fall, Salesforce was the first company to sign the Step Up Declaration, a commitment to use technology to reduce emissions across all economic sectors.

    On a personal level, Benioff and his wife, Lynne, donated $6.1 million to fund the Bristol Hotel housing project, which will add 58 housing units in San Francisco. They’ve given $250 million to children’s health care (i.e., building the USCF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in SF and Oakland). And they announced a $4.5 million gift to help save ocean life (to the WEF Friends of Ocean Action initiative, via the Benioff Ocean Initiative). Also, now they own Time magazine.

    Okay—now it’s time to read up on the cloud and polish the CV.

  • Kirsten Gillibrand Headshot
  • Kirsten Gillibrand

    U.S. Senator

    Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) makes exceptionally good use of her time. During the course of her nine-year career in the Senate, she’s fought for sexual assault survivors, college students and seniors, 9/11 first responders and dairy farmers; she’s stood up against Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; toxic chemicals seeping into water supplies; and gun trafficking.

    She also has kids. Which means that she has a universally accurate understanding that time—time with those kids, at home, when they need you most—is paramount to a family.

    Which leads us to the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. The FAMILY Act. Reintroduced in 2017, the FAMILY Act is, well, Gillibrand’s baby. If passed, it will implement a comprehensive, nationwide paid family leave program. The bill is currently with the Committee on Finance, with no date set for a Senate vote yet. Expanding on existing initiatives in California and New York among other states, it will provide workers with twelve weeks of paid family leave financed by regular contributions made by both employees and employers.

    Politics aside, it’s pretty intuitive, right? New parents should have the right to adjust and bond with the new life they’ve brought into the world and still be able to pay the bills. These are babies who will grow up to be doctors, scientists, leaders, and thinkers (not to mention taxpayers). But that hasn’t been the case. Not even close. Of all the developed countries, the US is the only one that doesn’t guarantee paid family leave to new mothers. Sit with that for a minute.

    Gillibrand put it best last year at the Center for American Progress’s Ideas conference: “It’s not just a women’s issue. It is a middle-class economic issue that creates economic growth and rewards work in this country.” And because she’s the all people’s senator, the bill proposes a plan that’s affordable (for both workers and employers) and gender-neutral and covers all kinds of family leave—be it a parent caring for a new child, a child caring for an ill parent, or any scenario in between.

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