As we move into Women’s History month, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that we still need to set aside a month to highlight the contributions of women to the world. But here we are. So for this week’s newsletter, I want to lift the names of women who are doing some of the hard work to make the world better today for all of us.
Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan
Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan is a woman with a mission. As an attorney, she works for underdogs and does not flinch in the face of powerful adversaries. She is most famous for her arguments in the 2013 Edie Windsor case which struck down the Defense of Marriage Act which led to the legalization of same-sex marriage. While she spent much of her career in a large, traditional law firm, in 2017 she struck out on her own and formed Kaplan, Hecker, and Fink. She is suing former President Trump for defamation on behalf of E. Jean Carroll, for fraud on behalf of Mary Trump, and for fraud (again) on behalf of the participants in Trump’s ACN multi-level marketing scheme. Beyond those cases which will no doubt garner outsized headlines, Kaplan is also “suing the Nazis” (her words) who showed up in Charlottesville. That case will go to trial in October. Kaplan is also a co-founder of the #TimesUp Legal Defense Fund. She is a woman we should all thank for standing up for women in the face of power.
Kizzmekia “Kizzy” Corbett, PhD
Kizzmekia Corbett, Ph.D. is the scientific lead for the Vaccine Research Center of the National Institute of Health’s Coronavirus team. A North Carolinian born and bred, Corbett has always had a passion for science. In high school, she spent her summer break working at the UNC Kenan Labs research laboratories. She holds a B.S. from the University of Maryland Baltimore College and earned her Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of North Carolina. According to her Time 100Next profile, “She and her colleagues have been central to the development of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Eli Lilly therapeutic monoclonal antibody that were first to enter clinical trials in the U.S. and now have authorization for emergency use.”
In recent months, Corbett has become a prominent figure in the nation’s conversation over vaccine safety. She has used her platform to calm fears and concerns in the Black community. She states,
“Vaccines have the potential to be the equalizer of health disparities, especially around infectious diseases. I could never sleep at night if I developed anything — if any product of my science came out — and it did not equally benefit the people that look like me. Period.”
Margaret “Maggie” Ruto
Margaret Ruto deserves our accolades as someone who was just living her life and stumbled upon something horrific and acted upon it. She faced the strong odds of failure and worked until she could achieve justice. Let’s take a look at her story.
In 2018, Margaret, a nurse, traveled to Kenya, her ancestral country of origin, to care for her ailing mother-in-law. When she arrived, she found the villagers in chaos over allegations that a man, who happened to live near Margaret back in the States, was running an orphanage and abusing the children there. Two teenage girls had escaped the orphanage and reported being sexually abused. They also directed villagers and Margaret to the grave of a 9-month-old who had choked and died at the orphanage. By the time Margaret arrived, the man, Gregory Dow, had fled back to Pennsylvania.
After reporting the crimes to local authorities in Pennsylvania, then the State Department, and then the embassy she hit a wall. But when the local newspaper ran the story, the FBI got involved using the information that Margaret had collected. Dow was convicted and sentenced to prison until his 80 birthday. Without the courage and perseverance of Margaret, Dow would still be able to commit these heinous crimes.
Originally published at https://chaiselounge.substack.com.