- Alumnae Spotlight
Paige Bradley '87
Executive Director for Women's Empowerment International
As the Executive Director of Women’s Empowerment International (WE), Paige Bradley ‘87 leads the charitable organization, whose mission is to empower women in poverty with the tools to earn a living, care for their families, and strengthen their communities.
On moving from getting women into politics to getting women out of poverty:
I started my career in Democratic politics- working on political campaigns in California as a staffer and political consultant. My focus and driving passion was always helping more women get elected to higher office and advocating for issues of concern to women and families, such as reproductive health and justice. As a consultant, I had the opportunity to collaborate with various non-profits such as the International Museum of Women, Planned Parenthood, and Children Now, so a transition from political work to advocacy, and later philanthropy, felt natural. The through line of my life’s work has really been trying to elevate women’s voices and empower them, both in the public realm and in our daily lives. Non-profit work is a natural fit because it’s purpose driven, something that for me is essential. I have been fortunate to do work that enables me to live m values and hopefully, in the process, make a small, positive difference.
On her drive to affect change:
I believe deeply in the power of women and girls to change our world for the better. But without the ability to earn and control the most basic decisions of our lives - the conditions that characterize poverty - we are cut off from that power. Poverty is a cycle. Funding women with tools to earn is the best way to break it; when women earn, numerous lives are touched. Each life has value and every determined women deserves dignity and hope, whether she is a grandmother in Uganda, a victim of sex trafficking in Mexico, or an aspiring entrepreneur in California. The chance to help these women and see progress in action is why I do this work.
On a moment that changed her life:
I credit Marlborough - my teachers, coaches and lessons learned - almost entirely for this path I have chosen to pursue in life. (And of course my Mom, whose deeply empathetic heart and volunteerism showed me the value of caring and doing for others.)
I often reflect on sitting in the auditorium at a Marlborough assembly (was it 1985?) and listening to the words of pioneering feminist and author Betty Friedan. What I heard that day, so many years ago, changed the course of my life. In her words of feminist inspiration and equality, I recognized my own voice for the very first time. I have never forgotten it and will always be grateful. It was in Dr. Pearson’s Marlborough classroom that I first became engaged in political discourse. His encouragement and insights led me to pursue a degree in political science. At Marlborough, under the guidance of Coach Tinka Brown, I was also pushed to explore the limits of my physical strength and live my dream of playing volleyball at UCLA.
At Marlborough, we took for granted that women were the ones who ran things. But when I got out into the world, I quickly learned we had work to do. I’ve never let go of that.