Locals Are the Kind of 'Everyday Gamechangers' that New Documentary Explores

The women of B.I.G. are transforming their own lives as did the high-profile and unknown women explored in the Aol/PBS project "Makers: Women Who Make America" which airs tonight.

Women helped transform the worlds of politics, business, entertainment, sports and fashion—and they will be headlining a documentary that is to debut Feb. 26 on PBS.

The series—Makers: Women Who Make America—is narrated by award-winning actress Meryl Streep and is scheduled to broadcast at 8 p.m. It is a joint venture between PBS and AOL.

The multi-media project isn't just about history, it's about individual women making their way, making their own opportunities, making their future—that's why the title of the series is in the present tense. 

As the documentary points out, that kind of activity is going on every day all across the country in small communities and small companies.

Maureen Toohey, who started her own local business, Beauty on Location, agrees.

"This is my arena," says Toohey, a member of the northern Westchester chapter of B.I.G., a national organization built of small, local groups creating safe and supportive environments for female entrepreneurs.

There's a cumulative power that occurs when women with a common purpose come together in a supportive environment, to share their ideas, information and resources, says Elena Monaco, a local organizational consultant.

"We are smart. We are part of a community of intelligent and creative women," says Monaco. "Some of us are professionals. Some of us are stay-at-home moms. Many of us have great ideas. Or talents. Maybe our dreams were put on the back burner because it wasn't the right time. Some of us have started our own business and are looking for new ideas. Others are in between jobs, or looking to make a career change. This is simply about establishing momentum—even for those of us who don't know where we're headed at the moment."

Lauralee Donnelly is the head of B.I.G.'s northern Westchester chapter.

"The organization is truly an ever-growing process in which I get to see women evolve into more independent, confident women who gain tools to succeed in their businesses and daily lives," says, Donnelly, who has her own financial consulting company.

Anyone interested can find information on www.believeinspiregrow.com. Here are three of the local chapters, called "pods."

"B.I.G. is where connections are made. Paths crisscross. Brainstorms happen. Dreams re-emerge and we get inspired. This is where uncertainty and intimidation perish. And you flourish," says Monaco.

For some additional inspiration, check out the more than 180 stories of women on the Makers Website and upload your own.

For Makers, AOL and PBS are utilizing all of their collective platforms, including education, digital, community engagement, and broadcast to engage the American public in an on-going conversation about how women have transformed all aspects of American life.

The site is basically a living library of women’s stories that will continue to grow and include the next generation of women who affect society in new and profound ways.

Also, tune in to PBS at 8 p.m. for the world premiere broadcast. See a preview of what's airing tonight here. 


Local Editor Barbara Heims contributed to this report.


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