When Janaye Ingram isn’t working out of Airbnb’s Washington, D.C. office as their Director of National Partnerships, she’s busy growing one of the largest women’s movements our country has ever seen.

In 2017, after women came out in droves to attend the Women’s March, political scientists called it the single largest demonstration in U.S. history– attended by more than 4.2 million people. This year, men and women around the country will gather once again for the Women’s March on Washington on a Saturday in the middle of January.

“We cannot expect others to carry the torch for change and progress for us,” says Ingram Everyone of us has a voice and a responsibility to be part of the change we want to see.”

Ingram’s words are not in vain. A year ago, following the conception of the Women’s March, Ingram got a call from Tamika D. Mallory— a social justice activist and one of a handful of co-chairs for the Women’s March on Washington.

Mallory had originally sought Ingram’s help with logistics for the march, but Ingram wanted to join the organization’s national efforts. Today, Ingram has joined as a co-chair and is the head of logistics for Women’s March Inc.– rallying marches in over 600 U.S. cities over the course of one weekend.

As I listened to Ingram’s story and her commitment to activism, I wondered what it actually felt like to stand with millions of women and be part of this juggernaut of a movement.

The 3 Powerful Emotions At The Women’s March on Washington

“I felt extremely hopeful, empowered, and inspired by what I was witnessing,” says Ingram. “The hope I had in those moments was that this was the beginning– a spark– and that that would create a firestorm of change.

“There’s a lot more work to be done, but whether it’s seeing the number of women who are running for office increase exponentially to seeing women turn out the vote in critical elections and find their voice through the #MeToo movement, the work is certainly worth it.”

On Why She’s Fighting For Women’s Rights

“What drove me to be part of the Women’s March was the desire to make sure black women’s voices were part of the conversation. Historically in the feminist movement, women of color and other marginalized women— like the disabled and LGBTQ — have been neglected from the agenda.

It’s important that black women be at the table to ensure our issues are elevated.”

Janaye, far right, is introduced by Michelle Obama.

On Being The Change

“Every one of us has a voice and a responsibility to be part of the change we want to see. We cannot expect others to carry the torch for change for us. The only way we can make change is if we are part of the action itself.

Our book just came out earlier this week, and in that book, I talk about the collective being like a fist as opposed to the individual being like a finger. You can do something with a finger, but when you have a fist, it’s much more powerful.

So I encourage people not to rely on other people to make the change but to find a way to be part of the solution themselves.”

On The Role of Men in Women’s Rights

“Whether you’re man, women, gender nonconforming or non-binary, we need you.

There are spaces and rooms where women are not in those rooms. And, we need our male allies to speak truth, even when we’re not in those rooms.

I think that’s what allyship is all about. It’s about being there and showing up, even when it’s not your fight. Especially when it’s not your fight.”

On Upcoming Issues

“The focal point is on the November 2018 elections. People need to understand the importance of their vote as a source of power and leverage that power to create change that’s reflected in policies.

Whether your concern is about reproductive rights, Dreamers, or the rights of immigrants to come to this country. Whether you’re Haitian, Palestinian, Ecuadorian, El Salvadorian or from a country in Africa, this is an opportunity for us to see the change that is necessary to welcome us all. To make sure that we’re all given the space and opportunity to thrive in this country.

It all comes down to how we are able to leverage our power in our vote.”

On The Future of The Movement

“I hope we can engage people in voter registration. We’re kicking off a ten-state tour that will take us to some of the most important battleground states. We will use this as an opportunity to engage people to leverage their political power in the electoral process.

What will never change is that the power is in your vote. Your vote is your voice and if you really want to see change, start there.”

Feature photo by Roya Ann Miller