Shadow Cabinet is one writer’s quest to speak with and share the stories of women leading the fight to defend human rights in the United States in 2017.

I’m talking about the rights of immigrants, refugees, people of color, native peoples, the LGBTQ community, and women; reproductive rights; environmental rights; and our constitutional rights in general, including our right to freedom of speech.

While so much incredible reading material is available – and there’s so much good information about concrete action to take in resistance to discrimination, hate and injustice in our country – I still feel overwhelmed, and in need of a different way to connect and learn. So each week in 2017, I hope to speak with a new subject, whether she is working from elected office, a classroom, a soapbox, a nonprofit or her home.

My questions for each leader are few: what is the nature of your work, how can we support you, and/or how can we emulate you in our own lives and communities. Each week, I’ll take her advice in any way I can, whether that means a donation, a phone call, a letter, or some other action.

And why only women? Let’s just say that the silhouette of the would-be president who exited the stage on Nov. 9, 2016 remains ever-present in my field of vision, kind of like when you look away from a bright light and see its shadow everywhere. Now, whenever I see a discussion or board or panel where women are absent or outnumbered, it stands out to me like never before. I have noticed the absence of women leaders in my own mental lists of the standouts and experts in some of the areas now under threat in our country, and I want to remedy that. I need a deeper bench of women leaders, and I think many of us do. I want to be able rattle off a long list of women who should fill the Cabinet seats at the White House, and the women who should be on those secretaries’ speed dials.

Comments, suggestions, contacts? Please contact me at kstan.cr@gmail.com or reach me on Twitter at @shadowcabinet45.