Sparking Change In America: Joy Reid Calls Out Injustice Everywhere

We’re wrapping up our series featuring Black Trailblazers, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to have another guest who has broken barriers and basically created their own space as part of the national conversation, becoming the first black woman to anchor a cable primetime show. You may know her from her seat as a political analyst on MSNBC, or as the host of her own show, The ReidOut.  It’s the amazing Joy Reid, everyone! Joy is a Harvard grad with a degree in visual and environmental studies and a concentration in documentary film. She also worked on the Florida branch of the Obama campaign. Her political writing prowess has landed her columns and articles everywhere; The New York Times, The New Republic, The Guardian, The Daily Beast, and The New Yorker, to name a few. PLUS she has a new book coming out that she gives us a special peek into; it’s the important and moving story of slain Civil rights pioneer Medgar Evers and his wife Myrlie, also an activist. It’s not every day we get to talk to someone who brings the goods about so many profound topics—civil rights, the fight for reproductive rights, immigration issues, the sacrifice for equality—and she and Jen shy away from none of them here. Joy’s passion for calling out injustice and her unwavering belief that we all hold the keys to preserving our rights and our freedoms gives us a reason to believe that we all can be trailblazers toward sparking change in our world.

 

From Small Town To Big Influence: Jerrie Merritt’s Legacy of Giving Back

In this week’s episode in our Black Trailblazer’s series, Jen may have leveraged her connections, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that she did. We’re excited to have a wonderful sit down with the amazing Jerrie Merritt (who just happens to be Jen’s boyfriend Tyler’s mother–and a Black trailblazer in every sense of the word). In addition to being Tyler’s mom, Jerrie’s currently the Senior VP of Community Development at the Bank of Nevada in Las Vegas. Her banking career spans 40 plus years, where her job now is discerning funding for community development projects in the city of Las Vegas (as she puts it; “I’m the only person at the bank who’s actually giving money away!”). She’s been the board president of the Rape Crisis Center, The Urban Financial Services Coalition, and the Chamber of Commerce in Las Vegas. She even recently got to work with the NFL when the Super Bowl took place in Las Vegas to lead the dispersion of funds they made available to 14 worthy organizations, which she chose. In 2021, Jerrie received an actual Trailblazer Award, presented by the National Coalition of 100 Black Women from the Las Vegas Chapter. Jerrie takes us back to where it all began; in a tiny town called Eutaw, Alabama, where Jerrie didn’t see much modeled to her in the way of dreaming of who she could be, but through generosity of spirit and a willingness to take a chance, she started blazing her trail. It wasn’t without its challenges, coming up during a time where women–especially black women–were often shunned in business and leadership settings. Despite this, Jerrie paved a way, and in turn is paving a way for those coming up behind her. Her infectious courage, intertwined with a humility that hits you right in the feels—will incite a fire with all of us to leave our own indelible mark on this wild, beautiful world.

Inside the Fight for Better Gun Safety with MomsRising’s Gloria Pan

If you’ve listened long enough to our show and also follow Jen, you probably know that the conversations we invite come in many stripes—thoughtful, timely, fun, encouraging, helpful, educational and inclusive—plus, we’re not afraid to veer into some of the deeper stuff. Important stuff that is sometimes hard to wrap our heads around, but if we don’t, no change can occur. Whatever we think about gun rights, there are voices to consider who are doing hard work to create a future where kids can safely attend schools, where people won’t be shot just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, where mass shootings become a thing of the past. Wherever you stand on the spectrum of this issue, at the end of the day, many polls show that roughly 90% of us agree that we should have stricter gun laws. So we’re opening the For the Love Floor to someone who is seeing and hearing first hand from families affected by gun violence, who makes it her priority to educate the public, and puts the issue in front of legislators for increased gun safety. Gloria Pan is the VP of Moms Rising, a group of caring moms who take on the most critical issues facing women, mothers and families. She’s the head of their gun safety initiative and works with their membership to accelerate impact on Capitol Hill and state capitols to affect legislative change. She’s also been a trusted voice who’s spread the message on CNN, with The Los Angeles Times, NPR, and all kinds of media platforms. 

Gloria and Jen have a discussion around: 

+ The origins of the 2nd Amendment and how the narrative of guns rights proponents has been shaped over the last 50 years 

+ Practical steps toward what we all can do if we want to make our voices heard about this issue and take action toward better gun safety

+ Hope toward a new generation of young people who are engaged in creating a better future and are paying attention in ways perhaps previous generations haven’t 

This work is not glamorous and can be full of disappointment, as moving mountains can often be. We’re grateful to people like Gloria who give us a glimpse from inside the fight, and bring us hope that change can really happen.

From The Church to The Pride Parade: Sara Cunningham with Free Mom Hugs

We’re back for more of our Being Seen and Heard series! In a time where it feels like we are struggling to really see and hear one another, there are some bright lights who make it their mission to help one another understand each other a little better. Our guest today, Sara Cunningham, the founder of FreeMomHugs.org, is one amazing example of what can happen when we really see people for who they are and begin to hear their stories. Sara was on the show right at the beginning of her journey with Free Mom Hugs, and now the org—which started with the simple idea of attending Pride parades and holding up a sign that said “Free Mom Hugs,”—has become a national and world wide phenomenon. She uses her own experience as a guide to how she advocates, and is absolutely passionate about connecting with faith, civic, business, and government leaders in efforts to make the world a kinder safer place for our LGBTQIA+ family.

Sara and Jen touch on these topics:

  • Sara’s roots in conservative evangelicalism and how she found herself moving “from the church to the pride parade” after she reckoned with her son’s admission that he was gay and going to live in his identity
  • The stories of people who, after coming out, lost their families, were kicked out of their churches, and felt completely alone and found solace and comfort in the simple act of a mom extending a hug
  • Sara’s son Parker’s (as well as her own) journey of self-discovery and then coming to live authentically after seeing others, who had come out in faith environments, survive and thrive after loss
  • How we can affect change with our voices as it relates to legislation that targets the LGBTQIA+ community

Angels & Peacemakers: Mending The Divides

Susan Ramirez and Jon Huckins are giving their all in some of *the* hardest work: lending voices and love to two communities who are suffering deeply. In our last episode of For the Love of Giving, we’re going to talk with Susan and Jon about the problems their communities face, and how we can give our time and privilege to help solve these complex problems. First up, Susan Ramirez is the CEO of National Angels, an org that walks alongside children and their caretakers in the foster care system. Today, we learn how one National Angels program is changing lives by providing love and belonging to kids who need it most. In the second half of the show, we talk with Jon Huckins. Jon is the co-founding director of the Global Immersion Project, a peacemaking training organization that equips people of faith to engage our divided world in restorative ways. Jen and Jon discuss how we can be good brothers and sisters to our neighbors who are suffering on the border, and how those with privilege can use it to fight on behalf of their marginalized neighbors.

Ty Pennington Lives (and Gives!) to the Extreme

People give in all kinds of ways. Some give talent. Others give quality time. Some use their influence to shine a light on struggles we need to know about. Our next guest, Ty Pennington, has given in each of these avenues—and shared a few laughs with us along the way! We’ve loved Ty since he lit up our TV screens in the early-2000s (and newly revived!) design series Trading Spaces as the energetic, fun-loving carpenter. Later, Ty was the host of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, where he and his team of designers and volunteers had the joy of giving a home makeover to deserving families in just seven days (Bonus: Ty gives us the skinny on that now-famous “Move that bus!” line). In his own “Move that bus!” moment, Ty gives his own personal “reveal” in his upcoming book, Life to the Extreme. We learn about his struggle with ADHD, his whirlwind days as a model, and the hilarious way he landed his role on Trading Spaces. Ty shows that giving can come in many forms and from unlikely ways—even from the kid who was always sent to the principal’s office.

Charity: Water CEO Scott Harrison’s Thirst for Change

“What would the opposite of my life look like?” Today’s guest, Charity: Water founder Scott Harrison, was a Jesus kid turned high-end club promoter, with all the luxury and excess that comes with it. Unfulfilled by his pursuit of “more” and desperate for a change, Scott sold everything he owned and joined a non-profit as a photojournalist. What he saw on his journeys changed his life, as he realized a basic need we take for granted—clean water—wasn’t available in many parts of the world. That discovery led him to found Charity: Water, which has helped 8.5 million people around the world gain access to clean water. We’ll hear about Scott’s new memoir Thirst, and why people are cancelling their HBO subscriptions to give to Charity: Water’s super-cool new initiative, Spring. Scott’s story reminds us we’re never too far gone to make a change—our lives can be redeemed, no matter what.

How to Help the Helpers: Pure Charity’s Mike Rusch and Legacy Collective’s Faitth Brooks

When Fred Rogers was a boy (stay with us here) and he would see scary things on the news, his mother would tell him, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” Fret not, dear ones: Mr. Rogers’ mother is still right. For this episode in our For the Love of Giving series, we’re thrilled to bring you two people who are helping the helpers and fueling their dreams to change the world. Our first guest, Mike Rusch, is the CEO of Pure Charity, a nonprofit that provides software and strategy for more than a thousand organizations worldwide, including Bob Goff’s Love Does, Habitat for Humanity, Help One Now, and our own Legacy Collective. Mike tells us how Pure Charity puts the structure behind nonprofits’ missions to make a difference, why giving circles are impactful, and key advice for those who are looking to start their own nonprofit. We’re also thrilled to have Legacy Collective partner Faitth Brooks on the show! Jen and Faith talk about the unique way Legacy partners with people around the world, some of the life-giving projects Legacy has helped fund, and how you can get involved.

The Hatmakers’ Favorite Things Returns: 2nd Annual Holiday Gift Guide!

Back by popular demand, it’s one of our very favorite episodes: the Hatmakers’ Holiday Gift Guide! Our resident gift-giving champ (and Jen’s husband) Brandon is back to highlight twelve companies creating top-shelf products and making a difference in our world. Jen and Brandon dish about gifts for everyone on your list: ladies, gents, kids, foodies, coffee addicts, coworkers, lovers of all things cozy, nature folks, and so much more. And if you’re in the car or at the gym, don’t worry! For each item Jen and Brandon mention, you can find photos and product links, PLUS special offers exclusively for you, our faithful listeners! To get all the deets, look for this episode’s transcript at JenHatmaker.com/podcast. Over the next few weeks, keep listening to our “For the Love of Giving” series, where you’ll hear from amazing guests who have centered their lives on helping others. Most importantly, you’ll learn how you can help people close to you, your community, and around the world.