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Get to Know 6 Inspiring Changemakers

This International Women’s Day, we’re raising a glass to those who inspire us every single day.

International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women across the globe and we’re honoring six leading ladies who are making a difference in their community. From preserving our national parks, to nurturing America’s diverse food culture, from transforming families from poverty to prosperity, to spearheading philanthropic initiatives here at Tito’s Handmade Vodka, these changemakers are truly spreading the love near and far.

In their roles at the National Park Foundation, American Farmland Trust, James Beard Foundation, and Jeremiah Program these women are promoting positive change across the world. And, the masterminds behind Vodka for Dog People and Love, Tito’s are integral to spreading our giveback philosophy. Here’s to you!

So you can get to know these inspiring women a little better, we asked them a few questions about their achievements, advice, and cocktail preference.

Love, Tito's

Photo of Amy Lukken

Amy Lukken

Joyologist


What was an obstacle you had to overcome in your career?

AL: “If you wait to be invited to meetings or to have a voice, then you will have neither in your life. Let others know why your voice is important to the bigger picture. Then show up at the meetings!”

How do you define success?

AL: “When you turn the lights off in your office at the end of the day and you feel like you have helped develop a few humans along the way.”

How do you enjoy your Tito’s?

AL: “I love a good Salty Dog—grapefruit juice and lime the rim with salt!”

Find out how Love, Tito’s is giving back to causes, efforts, and organizations that move them at lovetitos.com.

Vodka for Dog People

Photo of Beth Bellanti

Beth Bellanti

Program Manager


What was your first job?

BB: “Marketing and Development for an off-Broadway theatre.”

What’s one of your proudest achievements?

BB: “The evolution of Vodka for Dog People from my rescuing the distillery stray dogs over the last 16 years to the development of a full-fledged cause marketing program supporting hundreds of animal welfare nonprofits. It's also a beautiful thing having dogs in the office. I think we have a pretty good policy going on and we hope to inspire other companies to do the same.”

How do you enjoy your Tito’s?

BB: “Tito's, soda and lime.”

Learn how Vodka for Dog People betters the lives of pets and their families far and wide at vodkafordogpeople.com.

National Park Foundation

Photo of Ruth Prescott Photo via National Park Foundation

Ruth Hernandez Prescott, J.D.

Chief of Staff


What’s one of your proudest achievements?

RP: “Other than my family, I’d have to say my proudest achievement relates to the role I recently played in helping to preserve the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his family through the National Park System. To be part of a project, made possible by private philanthropy, that forever preserves the homes where Dr. King was born and where he raised his family with Coretta Scott King is a point of significant pride for me.”

What was an obstacle you had to overcome in your career?

RP: “My own reservations about whether I was good enough to take that next step. Luckily, I have been fortunate to have wonderful bosses who believed in me and challenged me to believe in myself and my potential.”

How do you define success?

RP: “Success, in my opinion, is feeling like what you do makes a difference in the life of your organization or in the life of a friend, colleague or even a stranger.”

Visit the National Park Foundation’s blog to read about Trailblazing Women and the Parks that Honor Them. Learn more at nationalparks.org.

Jeremiah Program

Photo of Shannon Moody Photo via Jeremiah Program

Shannon Moody

Executive Director, Austin


What would be your advice to your younger self?

SM: “I love the Maya Angelou quote, ‘When people show you who they are, believe them.’ My younger self (and current self) tends to see the best in people, and at times I overlook the red flags that seem so apparent with hindsight. I’ve learned to trust my gut and rely on those that are consistent and supportive and that it is okay to let go of those who bring you down.”

What’s one of your proudest achievements?

SM: “One of my proudest achievements is when we moved our first families onto the Jeremiah Program Austin Campus. When I was hired as Executive Director in 2011, I was tasked with recruiting a Community Board of Trustees, raising $9M to build our campus in East Austin, and hiring staff to support our families. It wasn't always smooth sailing, but with perseverance and hard work, we opened our doors in 2017.

I remember feeling so much pride and excitement at our Ribbon Cutting Ceremony to finally see it all come together. We were honored to hear from a few of our new resident Moms, and listening to their stories and hopes for the future was so inspiring. It was and continues to be an amazing feeling to have made, along with many others, Jeremiah a reality in Austin.”

How do you enjoy your Tito’s?

SM: “I have been known to order a Moscow Mule or two, and we always have plenty of Tito's at our Jeremiah events and fundraisers.”

Jeremiah Program’s two-generation model is helping single mothers and their children succeed in Minneapolis, St. Paul, Austin, Fargo, Boston, New York, and Rochester. Learn more by visiting jeremiahprogram.org.

American Farmland Trust

Photo of Jennifer Filipiak Photo via American Farmland Trust

Jennifer Filipiak

Midwest Director


What’s one of your proudest achievements?

JF: “Participating in the growth of AFT’s Women for the Land program has been a powerful experience in my career thus far. Witnessing the growing list of women farmers and landowners who can advocate for strong conservation policies and programs has been particularly inspiring. The stories of Lesley Riker in Ohio and Joan Smeltzer motivate me to continue this critical work.”

What was your first job? How did you start your career?

JF: “It was Dairy Queen – when I was 14! My career has taken an interesting evolution and I’m very happy where I’ve ended up... I come from a conservation background – I have degrees in ecology and wildlife biology and that’s what I did in my early career.”

Who has been an inspiration or your biggest mentor?

JF: “Advice I would give to myself, or young professionals, is to learn to recognize a good mentor and use them – this has been a key to my success and I could name several people here. But I think I’ll talk about an inspirational figure to me, someone I feel I know well but have never met... Aldo Leopold is a philosopher/biologist, often considered the 'father' and founder of wildlife management and the science of restoring degraded ecosystems (restoration ecology). If you study conservation you learn a lot about Aldo Leopold in school. Leopold was also a philosopher and he once said, 'We abuse land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.' Where I’ve heard this land ethic the most is in talking to the women farmland owners I work with. They always say, 'It’s my job to leave this land better than I found it,' or 'My dad told me that if you take care of the land it will take care of you.' They truly care about the land, think of it as part of their family legacy, and want to know more about how to steward it well. Aldo Leopold’s teachings have more relevance to me now than ever before – he was truly brilliant and forward thinking.”

Learn more about American Farmland Trust’s initiative to support women landowners and farmers at farmland.org/initiatives/womenfortheland.

James Beard Foundation

Photo of Clare Reichenbach Photo via James Beard Foundation

Clare Reichenbach

Chief Executive Officer


How do you define success?

CR: “From a work perspective, there are many different metrics we use to measure the success of the work we are doing to improve the food system, but on a personal level, it’s more about a sense of equanimity and well-being, and the degree to which I'm dedicating my time and energy to issues, work, and people I really care about.”

Who is your biggest inspiration?

CR: “I draw great inspiration from the chef community at large: they are nurturers at heart with great generosity of spirit, and with ‘giving back’ in their DNA. There are so many amazing role models who work beyond the four walls of their restaurants to support their communities, and to make the world a better place through food.”

How do you enjoy your Tito’s?

CR: “Tito's filthy martini on the rocks.”

Check out James Beard Foundation’s Women’s Leadership Programs to learn more about their commitment to advancing women in the culinary industry.

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