Speaking alongside state representatives at the Capitol Rotunda in Harrisburg is all in a day’s work for Carlisle resident Karen Showalter.
Advocacy is nothing new for Showalter, who has worked with Oxfam International, Netcentric Campaigns, Americans for Informed Democracy, and the Bank Information Center, according to her biography on the MomsRising website.
She also served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Niger, and is the board chair of Amp Global Youth, a virtual, youth-powered network focusing on global issues.
Now, she puts that experience to work as the campaign director for MomsRising’s Food Justice Team and the Pennsylvania State Moms Task Force.
It’s her work in the latter capacity that brought her to the Rotunda to speak on equal pay for women on April 8, a day that symbolizes how far into the current year women must work to catch up to what men earned the previous year.
In this week’s 5 Questions, Showalter talks about the work of MomsRising.
Q. How was the local chapter of MomsRising founded?
A. MomsRising was founded in 2006, and we’re a million members strong nationwide. We launched the Pennsylvania Moms Force about four years ago, with the goal of mobilizing parents in the commonwealth around both Pennsylvania and national issues.
Q. What are the goals of the local chapter?
A. We take on the most critical issues facing women, mothers and families by:
- Bringing the voices and real world experiences of women and mothers straight to our local, state and national leaders;
- Amplifying women’s voices and policy issues in the dialogue around Pennsylvania and national issues;
- Organizing grassroots actions in Harrisburg, and on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.
- Holding corporations accountable for fair treatment of women, mothers and families;
- Mobilizing moms to get out the vote.
This year we have a special focus on paid family and medical leave, and workplace justice issues including accommodations for pregnant and breastfeeding workers, and closing the wage gap.
Q. How has the local chapter been active in the community since its founding?
A. We provide regular and meaningful ways for people to take action, from signing petitions to sharing their story to visiting legislators. This spring we’re organizing house parties to talk about paid family and medical leave, and last spring we organized a large mom advocacy day in Harrisburg.
Q. What do you see in the future for MomsRising?
A. We’re really excited about the momentum around paid family and medical leave, here in Pennsylvania and nationwide. This year we’ll be focusing on helping parents speak out about why paid leave policies would support their families. And of course we’re excited to get out the mom vote in 2020.
Q. How can the local community get involved with the organization?
A. Sign up at join.momsrising.org and we’ll be in touch with regular and easy ways to take action for parents and families. We’ll also share information about events coming up this year.