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Seek & Thrive: With Amy Nelson, Founder & CEO of The Riveter

A conversation with Amy Nelson, founder & CEO of The Riveter, on why we need a community of allies to uplift women as they break down the barriers holding them back from leading in work and life.

Monica: Amy, I love the community that you’ve built with The Riveter and all that it stands for.  What first motivated you to create it?

Amy: In short: I became a mom. I was a corporate lawyer for a decade in New York, Minneapolis and Seattle, and I thought I would be a lawyer forever. But, when I became a mother, my experience of the workplace changed. 

I realized that my colleagues treated me differently once I had kids.  To them, I was first a mother, then an attorney. It made me really question my identity as a professional — for the first time in my life, it didn’t feel like my best was good enough and I couldn’t see the path forward in navigating this new phase of my life. 

I looked around the room and I couldn’t identify anyone in leadership positions who were mothers of young kids. There wasn’t really anyone to show me the roadmap, so it made me determined to create a space where women and mothers are celebrated and supported, to help each other thrive and to give them that guidance that I was missing.

Monica: That must’ve been such a frustrating, isolating experience – to feel that no one else around you understood and supported you in a time when you needed it the most. How did that spark the inspiration for The Riveter?

Amy: I realized that I couldn’t possibly be alone in this experience, and by every account, I was right — countless women every day welcome children and have to figure out how to integrate their new roles as mothers into their professional lives, often without the support they need from their employers, their peers, their existing communities. 

There are so many of us, but so often we operate in silos. We don’t really discuss motherhood in the workplace – because it’s seen as a distressed asset, instead of the strength that it is.  And I am determined to change that. 

My daughters, who are now 5, 3, 2 and nine months, might not understand what I do for work exactly, but they know that it’s important and I love talking to them about it. And, importantly, I appreciate that I do not have to hide any part of what being a mother entails as I build and grow my company. It’s about creating a workplace culture that accepts every part of you and understands that you do not stop being a mother when you come to the office — and that’s something to be celebrated. Together, we can make change and create a better reality for working women.

Monica: It’s incredibly powerful to bring women together and support them as they lead in everyday life and their careers.  How do you integrate it all in a way that helps you care for your health and wellbeing?

Amy: Staying healthy and happy is defined for me by the ability to choose how I integrate my life and work. It’s not a one-size-fits-all and I don’t like thinking of it as a work/life balance — it’s all part of the same puzzle for me. 

Exercise and routine is important to me, but at this point in my life, my main consistent form of self-care is spending time with my girls. It’s how I get my creative juices flowing, how I unplug after a long day, and without fail, time with them always has an amazing way of putting all things into perspective. They are my own form of chaos — four children under six will keep things interesting to say the least — but they also help me stay grounded and sane!

Monica: There’s something powerful about motherhood that can open our eyes to the bigger picture and challenge the status quo. What is the future that you envision for your own daughters?

Amy: To put it very simply, I believe in equity of opportunity for working women, and that drives me every day.  It’s why I founded the Riveter and our purpose for broadening our reach across the country — because we believe that change will only happen when we link arms and collectively work towards progress. 

It’s not enough for me to say that I’m building a better future for my daughters — I’m building a better future for myself, for my colleagues, for all working women who have to go to work tomorrow, despite the unrelenting fact that they will not earn an equal dollar to their male colleagues. 

They will not have the same opportunity for promotion, their parental leave is not secure, and so many other factors that prevent us from truly being equal in the workplace. 

My purpose is to drive change and to provide resources, tools and a community for all working women and allies to create better workplace realities for them too.

Monica: So beautifully said!  What one thing do you want everyone to know that will allow them to thrive in life?

Amy: You are never alone. There’s a community of people out there to help you find your way — even if you haven’t found it yet — and it’s always okay to ask for help. That’s why we created an online community for our members at The Riveter – we think it’s important for women to get together and share their expertise and experience. We have to lift each other up to break that ceiling! 

Our members have access to amazing programming — digital happy hours, AMAs with prominent experts, interesting panels, and Q&As. Our goal has always been to bring people together, and this is the next exciting step in that mission.

Learn more and join The Riveter’s online community at: https://theriveter.co/

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