Educate, Engage, Activate

Women’s History Month 2024 Honoree: Amanda Lewis

Women’s History Month 2024 Interview

Amanda leads in the professional publishing world as Managing Editor of the weekly Pangyrus Literary Magazine, as well as being dedicated to the Winchester community causes of Swim Winchester and the Winchester A Better Chance program.  She believes in building bridges and working hard to accomplish goals, finding joy in heartfelt work, and valuing work that suits one’s talents and improves your community.  

What motivated you to choose or start working with the nonprofit organization(s) you have worked with?

Alongside a career in publishing and raising three kids, volunteer work has led me into the world of nonprofits — Swim Winchester, Winchester A Better Chance, and the literary magazine Pangyrus. I am motivated by the causes – education, literature, community – and the people I get to work with. Each volunteer role started through a friend or connection saying, ” I think we could use you!” 

What have been some of the highlights of your work?

I am proud of Swim Winchester garnering support and raising a quarter of a million dollars for a community pool, and I am proud of the outstanding poems, essays, and stories published by Pangyrus Literary Magazine. And Winchester A Better Chance is the most personal and heartfelt work I’ve ever done. It’s an honor to get to know the young scholars and see them grow over four years and into college and beyond. 

What are some of your goals for yourself, as a leader of the nonprofit(s) you are working with?

I want to be an innovator – try new things, be creative, forge new connections and work closely with others. I want to grow as a person, listen to others, and confront racism. 

Do you feel you faced particular challenges, and/or had particular advantages, as a woman doing this work?

Linguists point out that gendered communication is built into how women are taught to be empathetic and collaborative; to be “nice” and “get along” (read Deborah Tannen!). These “constraints” can also be a superpower in understanding others and motivating volunteers, identifying talents and tasks, and enhancing collaborative work and communication. 

Since this is a month honoring women, is there a woman who has inspired you and why?

I am inspired by so many women: my mother, sisters, and my daughters and their friends; local leaders like Terry Marotta, Susan Verdicchio, Anthea Brady, Sandy Thompson, Catherine Curtis, Carol Savage, Susan Lewis, Mary Kay McIntyre, Robin Vos, Sara Brown, Emily Costello, Christie Freeman; literary giants like Virginia Woolf and Toni Morrison; and modern women leaders such as Shirley Chisholm, Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, Amanda Gorman, Taylor Swift, and Greta Thunberg.

What advice would you like to share with young people, especially young women, who are considering working in the nonprofit community?

Build bridges and work hard. Also, paid work is only a part of life and doesn’t define the whole you; for me, volunteering with nonprofit organizations has added a rewarding dimension to my life and provided opportunities to contribute to the community.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

I am grateful to the Winchester community in supporting important programs like ABC’s mission to increase the ability of well-educated young people of color to assume positions of responsibility and leadership in American society.

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