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How She Got There: Amanda Stuermer, Founder of World Muse

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Name: Amanda Stuermer
Age: 46
Job Title and Description: Founder, World Muse. Runs a nonprofit that offers programs that support and inspire women and girls to be catalysts for change. Last year, their programs reached over 3,000 women and girls from Congo to Oregon.
College/Major: English and Art History
Website: www.theworldmuse.org
Twitter Handle: @amanda_stuermer and @WorldMuseTweets

What does your current job entail?

Amanda Stuermer: There is no such thing as a typical day as head muse. I am one part event planner, one part fundraiser, one part global activist [and] one part program facilitator. I work with teen girls in schools, speak about women’s issues at various events, plan an annual retreat and women’s conference and evaluate programs ranging from a sex education program for teen girls in rural Uganda to a Yoga for Eating Disorders program in Southern California.

What is the best part of your job?

AS: I love seeing women and girls realize their potential and start exploring the possibility of their lives. I believe we are each more powerful than we have been led to believe!
 
What was your first entry-level job in your field and how did you get it?

AS: My field is hard to define. Our programs combine mindfulness, creative writing and social activism. My entry into mindfulness was back in Santa Fe when I began studying yoga with Tias Little. My entry into writing was an internship that led to an editorial position at Outside Magazine. My entry into social activism was a volunteer gig as a creative writing teacher at a juvenile detention center.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your industry when you first started out that you know now?

AS: You can’t do it all alone. So many people enter into the social activism world as lone rangers. They have amazing heart and drive and they want to change the world all by themselves. Unfortunately, many of them burn out. I was on that same path. Thankfully, I realized the need for collaboration and community. We can do so much more good together.

Who is one person who changed your professional life for the better?

AS: Cassondra Schindler has been an amazing supporter and collaborator for several years. Her commitment to the mission of World Muse combined with her ability to create strategies that support that mission has made a world of difference for my professional life. It has also made my personal life much better because working with people who support and inspire you makes life better in general.
 
What words of wisdom do you find most valuable?

AS: “Don’t ask the world what it needs you to do; ask yourself what makes you come alive, then go and do that. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.”  That quote from Howard Thurman is my personal mantra. If it doesn’t make you come alive, it isn’t worth your time and effort. Coming alive is what I call living inspired.

What is one mistake you made along the way and what did you learn from it?

AS: I am a passionate person and I have often jumped into projects without fully considering my capacity at the time! Knowing my limits continues to be my struggle. I am always seeking the perfect balance.

What has been the most surreal moment of your career thus far?

AS: I have had so many. I pinch myself quite often. I have had the privilege to work with some amazing social activists from Michael Franti to Dr. Tererai Trent to Zainab Salbi. These are people whose global reach has changed our world. I have also worked with young women who are on the verge of igniting their personal sense of power. That excites me to no end, to see a young woman find her voice and begin using it to empower herself. I wonder which one of them will change our world!

What do you look for when considering hiring someone?

AS: World Muse is all about inspiration. It’s the secret sauce, the pixie dust, the je ne sais quoi. I work with people who have come alive and are living inspired.
 
What advice would you give to a 20-something with similar aspirations?

AS: Follow your heart; it is your best compass. The pay for social activism is generally higher in karma than cash. Be sure you love what you do so that the inner rewards are worth it. 

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