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September 29, 2022

Ms. Welcomes Stephanie Rameau

by Ms. Foundation

Stephanie Rameau joins the Ms. Foundation as a Program Officer in the Office of the President.

What brought you to the Ms. Foundation? 

The strategic way President and CEO Teresa Younger is urging the philanthropic sector to invest in and prioritize women and girls of color brought me to the Ms. Foundation for Women. Years ago, I coordinated a Woman of Color Strategy Dinner that Teresa attended. I managed the event and got to learn about these brilliant women by coordinating with their teams, pulling their bios, and researching their career trajectories. One of the many gifts of that role was the opportunity to cultivate a mental Rolodex of badass women of color women in the reproductive justice world. Teresa’s work at Ms. has been at the top of that list ever since. It’s incredible to have seen how she has led the Ms. Foundation over the past eight years and to support her leadership.

What gets you out of bed every morning?

Lately, it’s been Beyoncé’s album Renaissance. I’ll say, “I’ll just listen to “America Has a Problem,” and then I find myself at “Alien Superstar” and dramatically whispering “UNIQUE!” The concepts of rebirth and renewal inspire me. The promise of being able to create a new experience each day gets me out of bed. We live in a constant stream of assaults, indignities, and disrespect; how do we sustain ourselves given these circumstances? How do we look after our physical and mental well-being? Create joyful moments? How do we create a world for young girls coming after us that is better? This country owes Black and brown women so much. If you do the research, every social movement in U.S. history owes its success to the work of women of color activists. The structural inequalities we face each day have been constructed for decades so investments in undoing the harms they have caused must also be coordinated and long-term. 

What is your most significant achievement to date – personal or professional?

My most significant achievements to date have been the relationships I have built and nurtured. So much about these past few years has been a challenge, between state violence, multiple public health emergencies, a potential recession, and attacks on our bodies. Pandemic life in NYC has been unlike anything I have experienced, and there is no going back to “normal,” but those relationships have made it bearable.

Which badass feminist/woman inspires you? 

The writer and cultural critic Roxane Gay inspires me. Her work has been influential to me because she writes so frankly and unapologetically about feminism and the deep inequities in our society. When transitioning into this new role, a colleague and friend of mine gifted me a copy of The Selected Work of Audre Lorde, edited by Gay. In 2018, I had a chance to hear Gay speak at a New York Public Library event in conversation with poet and activist Aja Monet to discuss Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, an essay collection on assault. I also saw her discuss her memoir Hunger in conversation with Tayari Jones, the author of American Marriage at the 92nd Street Y. I could listen to Roxane speak forever; she’s one of my favorite authors on gender and race.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

To younger Stephanie, I would say it is not only okay but crucial that you bet on yourself. The hobby you want to take up, the project you want to start, the graduate program you want to apply to, the cohort application you bookmarked…pursue those opportunities early and often. You don’t have to have all the pieces together before you start. Be deliberate about your steps, but also believe in yourself enough to do it scared! That is what I would say to her.