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March is Women’s History Month. Throughout the month we’ll be profiling D.C. based women you should know. Amy Morse, the founder of Ideas Club, is heading the project. Today she profiles Hosan Lee. If you’d like to suggest someone for Amy to profile, tweet at her. -ed.

Hosan Lee is Founder and CEO of Table Tribes. This awesome start-up leverages technology to connect people, to exchange ideas and share information face-to-face. Hosan’s work focuses on the practical application of research in social and emotional intelligence development. The goal is to change the way people relate to one another, and the world-at-large, by facilitating more meaningful interpersonal engagement through design and technology, starting with empathy as the targeted outcome.

Empathy levels, as measured by declining social trust and increasing discrimination, have plummeted over recent decades. Hosan is concerned that the inability to relate to one another with basic human respect, is affecting us on every level of society as individuals, families, communities and institutions. She observes fraying community resilience, increasing racial and religious discrimination – across sectors as diverse as technology, medicine, finance, government, higher education and entertainment. But, her research shows that it’s reversible. Empathy is a developable skill and the foundation of all productive relationship building efforts. It’s also the simplest to achieve: all we need to do is make time to actually talk to each other.

She works with media companies and content creators to activate online content into offline conversations, creating outlets for people to go from the comment sections and news feeds into the real world. Hosan’s Radius Project recently convened dozens of perfect strangers in D.C. to discuss “controversial” issues of substantive importance – race, class, religion and politics. Badass.

Woman Who Inspires Her

It’s complicated. She is profoundly inspired by the work of visionary humanists who have a broad understanding of how everything is connected, who bridge the creative and analytical to build solutions to problems with a clear vision to the betterment of the world around them while simultaneously searching for the answers to the universe. She is drawn to knowledge seekers, who are deeply curious of all aspects of life and society, people who break out of the confines of their context and take control of defining their own destiny, and those who make complex abstractions tangible because they spend the time looking for the right questions before focusing on the right answer. Examples include: Elon Musk, Benjamin Franklin, Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Ludwig van Beethoven, Auguste Rodin, Albert Camus, Stephen Colbert, Mark Rothko.

Most of the work that’s inspired her journey happens to be credited to men. But it’s not because she thinks that kickass women don’t exist, quite the contrary. Up until relatively recently, women in most regions of the world weren’t allowed to fulfill their full potential legally, politically, financially, or intellectually. Innovation and advancement comes through being able to share ideas with each other, and women were always historically excluded from the discourse; having to operate in a vacuum automatically put them at a disadvantage. Some women disguised themselves as men physically or with pseudonyms to get around this problem, and others used men as their mouthpiece. For women who managed to be released from domestic responsibilities and childbearing, and could dedicate the time and energy to creating in other disciplines, it was still commonplace for the intellectual property of women to belong to the man in the household or workplace. So while great inventions and works of art, music or literature might have come from the imaginations of women, we may never know their names because they weren’t properly credited. As we increasingly shine a light onto the achievements of women, and raise awareness of the biases and obstacles they face, she believes that girls 50 years from now will have a much easier time answering this question.

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