"Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception." –Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My mother and grandmothers were homemakers when I was a child. My teachers were women. The checkers at the grocery stores were women. I didn’t see women in leadership. Government leaders, police chiefs, principals, store managers – men. Were they worthy of their positions? Probably. Did women get overlooked for those roles? Very likely, or they didn’t know it was an option.

When kids grow up, they want to be what they see – how they see themselves represented. I wanted to be a teacher. That’s what I saw. As the world continued to shift and I gained more exposure, I saw myself doing different things. Scientist. Artist. College Professor. Pretty sure at one point I wanted to be president.

What am I now? I’m a storyteller, a friend, a wife, a lover of music and all things Harry Potter. I’m a licensed therapist and an outpatient program director in California for RI International. I’m the editor of Hope Inc. Stories.

I am a creator, an advocate, an innovator, a thinker, an equalizer. A person who makes decisions and whose voice matters – because women before me have laid the path and mentored me. It’s my job, and other women in leadership, to not just join the table, but be the table. Be the decision makers. Ask why.

Since women’s suffrage in August 1920, we’ve come some way. (Can you believe that’s only 100 years?) We have some way to go. If we stay complacent and assume things will continue to get better – that’s a theory that’s been proven wrong.

Choose to challenge.

Kristen Ellis

Kristen has worked in the mental health field since 2013, with a focus on crisis work, substance use services, and bringing a voice to lived experience. Her ambition is to change the way mental health care and recovery is seen and achieved, so to redefine what it means to defeat adversity.