Celebrating Women’s History Month with iHeartMedia and Freedom Forward

Celebrating Women’s History Month with iHeartMedia and Freedom Forward

Airtable celebrates Women's History Month with spotlights of two Airtable-powered organizations.

This year, Airtable’s Commemorative Observance team is excited to wrap up Women’s History Month by sharing the stories of two of the amazing organizations out there powered by Airtable: iHeartMedia and Freedom Forward.

iHeartPodcasts and Freedom Forward are two organizations led by women leaders and founders. We interviewed Carrie Lieberman (she/her), Senior Vice President of Podcast Operations & Strategy at iHeartMedia, and Bindu Oommen Fernandes (she/her), and Alia Whitney Johnson (she/her), Executive Director & Founder respectively at Freedom Forward, about their work, Women’s History Month, and how they’re using Airtable.

iHeartPodcast Spotlight

Tell us more about your role at iHeartMedia.

My role oversees all operations for the iHeartPodcast Network, which is the world's largest podcast publisher, currently responsible for over 1000 shows in the network. My team handles business development, talent/partner relations, revenue operations and production management.

How does your organization use Airtable?

We recently used Airtable to overhaul our entire end-to-end operations of the networkit was an extremely rewarding process to take a rapidly growing business with inefficient workflows and transform our day to day business with the custom system we built out.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

To me, Women’s History Month is a moment to pause and reflect on what amazing, strong women have accomplished. While we've come a long way in the last 50+ years, we still have a long way to go on the journey of workplace equalitybut there are so many examples of women in leadershipand who have fought to make the workplace better for usthat we should continue to honor and remember during this month (and always).

I think women have to wear "many hats"but I hope to use that complication to my advantage as I grow my own team. I'm always thinking about how can I use some of the things that make women "women" and apply those traits in a way that helps me lead with compassion, positive energy and constant support to the team members I work with each and every day.

Freedom Forward Spotlight

Tell us more about Freedom Forward.

Freedom Forward is working to prevent the commercial sexual exploitation of youth in San Francisco by transforming the systems that too often contribute to their exploitation. Guided by the voices of youth, Freedom Forward pilots collaborative and replicable approaches to address these systemic failures, so that all youth have the opportunity to thrive.

Our youth-designed, multi-services drop-in center called the “Helping Young People Elevate (HYPE) Center” allows youth ages 14-25 to meet their needs from multiple providers in one place. Youth can learn more here and follow us on Instagram @hypecentersf to stay updated on events and services.

Additionally, Freedom Forward has designed a new model of foster care designed to meet the needs of youth impacted by or at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. The model includes support from a group of “secondary caregivers” who serve the role that aunties, uncles, and grandmothers traditionally serve outside of the foster care system. You can learn more and join us here.

The work we do at Freedom Forward would not be possible without significant collaboration and the wisdom of others. Rather than reinventing the wheel, we bring together groups with deep expertise to reimagine what could be. We are proud to be women leaders who have brought individuals and groups together to achieve more than we could do individually.

How does your organization use Airtable?

As a small but innovative nonprofit working to tackle large challenges, Airtable has been a tremendous asset in building most of our systems to collaborate internally, track information, and share key data with the world.

We were initially drawn to Airtable because of its beautiful and easy-to-use user interface and the way that it allows us to build what we need, when we need it. (We may or may not be addicted to testing out all of the templates and playing with all of the ways Airtable can be useful, both professionally and personally! It is truly endless!). As a start up with systems that continue to evolve, this flexibility was absolutely key.

We’ve had so many different use cases for Airtablefrom tracking our donors and supporter interactions, to mapping the anti-trafficking services ecosystem across the Bay Area and sharing this database with partners externally, to building surveys youth could take on their phones.

We've had so many different use cases for Airtable. If you can track it, you can track it on Airtable.

We’ve cataloged our office inventory and assets on Airtable, managed projects on Airtable, developed dashboards for our board and supporters, leveraged Airtable to conduct evaluation surveys, delivered hundreds of care packages suited to the needs of youth with the support of Airtable, and much, much more. If you can track it, you can track it on Airtable.

What does Women’s History Month mean to you?

When we think of Women’s History Month, we think of the trailblazers of the past and present. We cannot understand trafficking without understanding it’s deep history and intersections with racism, misogyny, and commodification of women’s bodies.

And, as we look at our work today, we honor and celebrate the contributions of all of the incredible women who have supported one another in this field and all the young people we’ve worked with who have shaped our work.

Though youth of all ethnic backgrounds and gender identities experience exploitation, girls, especially girls of color are exploited at disproportionate rates. We have a long-standing racial mythology in the United States, dating back to slavery, that over-sexualizes girls and women of color.

What’s more, youth of color are often “adultified,” meaning they are assumed to be older and more mature and therefore less likely to be manipulated or coerced by adults. And, while all exploited youth are at risk for being criminalized, Black girls are arrested at significantly higher rates, reducing the availability of protective services and legal recourse.

Today, as we work to  transform  systems that will benefit all young people, it has been critical to engage, learn from, and elevate the voices of those who are most impacted. Our work has been deeply shaped by the wisdom, expertise, and lived experience of courageous and brilliant young women from across the Bay.

They have helped us understand the life moments that led to their involvement in the sex trade, the supports that made a difference in their lives or further alienated them, their dreams for something different for others. They have helped us sculpt a vision for what could be. They are using their personal stories to shape the future.

Additionally, our work in the community and COVID-19 has reminded us as women leaders to embrace vulnerability and change, to communicate and share our fears, to prioritize self, and take up space and to ask for support. Work to make change takes all of us and we need to lean on one another to get there.

More for the record