BY VICTORIA TRAVERS
Hollaback! has been keenly following the fantastic work being completed by the National Task Force to End Sexual Violence Against Women. We were lucky enough to interview Lisalyn R. Jacobs of Legal Momentum, the organization’s Vice President for Government Relations and an all round kick-ass player in the fight to end violence against women.
Lisalyn R. Jacobs works for Legal Momentum, the nation’s oldest legal defense and education fund committed to advancing the rights of women and girls. Lisalyn is the organization’s Vice President for Government Relations, making her the chief lobbyist and advocate with federal and U.S Congress:
“My work is primarily focused on the issues of violence against women and poverty, but we are involved in a variety of other work from advocacy around women’s economic issues, to judicial nominations.”
This particular role came as a bit of a surprise for the tenacious lawyer. In March 2003 she had originally applied for another job at Legal Momentum, but after officials realized her experience in federal laws concerning the organization’s advocacy projects they offered her another role instead.
Lisalyn grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., attended Goucher and Oberlin colleges and attended Stanford Law School. She remembers that she “wanted to be a lawyer and advocate by the time” she “was in middle school.” But faced the challenged of defining exactly what “kind of advocacy” she “was passionate about as against ending up in corporate America somewhere, which was more in line with the way law schools were training their students.”
She started her career at the National Partnership for Women and Families with the support of Georgetown’s Women’s Law & Public Policy Fellowship. Lisalyn joined the Office of Policy Development of the U.S. Justice Department in 1995 and worked on a number of issues including implementation of the Violence Against Women Act, the welfare reform law, judicial nominations and affirmative action.
Lisalyn first heard about Hollaback! a couple of years ago after her organization assembled a book about “the history of the drive for women’s rights in this country.” Hollaback! was featured in that book. Lisalyn notes that:
“It’s hard to grow up in the U.S. and NOT have experiences with street harassment.”
Lisalyn recalled her own memories of street harassment, telling us:
“I remember not too long after graduating from law school, I got into an argument on the streets of Washington, D.C. with a guy who had either harassed me or the friend I was talking to. At some point during the exchange, I recall telling the guy that he was objectifying me and afterwards, thinking that I had been in school just a little too long!”
The wonderful thing about Lisalyn is that not only is she a fearless change-maker, but she gets us, like Hollaback! she understands that although harassment can seem like a very solitary experience, you do not have to feel alone. Her advice to anyone experiencing harassment or abuse is this:
“Whether you are experiencing the violence or trying to help/figure out how to approach or support the person who is, you don’t have to do it alone. There is help out there for you. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE, and they can direct you to services in your community. You can call your local rape crisis hot-line, or the stalking hot-line. There is a world of folks out there ready and able to help you. Let them. Don’t wait. Get safe!!”
So we salute you Lisalyn for all your hard work, activism and change making!