Courtesy Photo
Courtesy Photo

My mother grew up on a farm. If her world hadn’t been 
narrowed by gender bias, she would have been an awesome 
mechanic — one who taught other mechanics. Instead she 
provided daycare to 13 children in our Brooklyn Park home. Watching 
her manage everyone’s needs was my first exposure to leadership.

Although I benefited from my mom’s 
resilience, I was also taught that “Life is 
hard, resources are scarce. Don’t make 
it worse by getting pregnant or going 
to jail.” My peers found “safe” jobs as 
cashiers and secretaries, with big dreams 
left for others. 

Having suffered from low expectations, 
I know firsthand how critical it is to be 
challenged, inspired, and supported to 
live to one’s full potential and to lead. 

That is why my work today is building 
bridges to inclusive leadership. Can you 
imagine how great our world would be if 
everyone did the work they were meant 
to do? 

For five years, my side hustle has been 
to connect leaders and organizations that 
have similar missions. I am encouraged at 
what I am finding. More people recognize 
that bridging differences increases 
sharing, decreases duplication of efforts, 
and brings essential, new voices to tables 
where decisions are made. 

Whenever I see a community leader 
doing good work, I reach out. I see my 
role as connecting that person with 
another person, organization, or resource 
that can strengthen the leadership of 
both.

As a feminist, I know I need to 
champion myself as well, if I’m 
going to effectively champion other 
underrepresented leaders. I am building 
a team of supporters who share my 
vision of a more cooperative community. 
The times call out for boldness, so I’m 
“leaning in” with others who are eager to 
share and unite.

Linda Brandt is the founder of Lean In Together 
MSP and co-founder of the Midwest Feminist 
Brain Trust. She is building a team of backers 
through Patreon. “By funding my volunteer work, 
I’m taking myself seriously in a whole new way.”

• Leanin.org
• Facebook.com/groups/leanintogether
• LeanInTogetherMsp.org
• Facebook.com/groups/midwestfeministbraintrust


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