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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 Nelle Pierson. -ed.

Nelle founded the rad group Women & Bicycles. As Outreach Coordinator for the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), our region’s bike advocacy and education non-profit, she spends her days running programs that inspire more people to bike for fun, utility, and freedom in the D.C. region. She loves her job!  Her work encourages empowerment to the community, in part because there is power in numbers. She believes that the region needs more confident, comfortable, and respectful bicyclists. When she’s not organizing campaigns or biking around town, Nelle’s probably over-caffeinated in a cafe doodling, or eating Nutella out of a jar in a park.

Impact on Her Community

She launched WABA’s Women & Bicycles: a nearly 4,000 person mentoring community encouraging more women to bike for transportation, and was recently named Bike Advocate Of The Year.

A Woman from History Who Inspires Her

Catharine MacKinnon (born in 1946) is a living lawyer, theorist, author, rad radical feminist and general hardworking badass. She has been willing to call out major problem spots in social norms and brave criticism. Her work led to the adoption of sexual harassment law in the US. As a law student in the 1970s, MacKinnon participated in “consciousness raising groups” to better understand challenges for women in the workforce. At the time, women were not legally protected from harassment at work. In 1979 MacKinnon published the book Sexual Harassment of Working Women. Lawyers subsequently cited MacKinnon’s work, leading to a 1986 Supreme Court ruling, which adopted her argument that sexual harassment was a form of discrimination. She has continued her work to recognize the human rights of women internationally, specifically on the use of rape in war crimes and genocide.

Ways to Get Involved

D.C.’s bike community has grown exponentially in recent years. The city now offers 69 miles of bike lanes, enabling more access to DC’s neighborhoods and commuting alternatives. The DC Department of Transportation offers an official “Bike Program” with detailed resources including the DC Bicycle Master Plan. The Capital Bike Share Program is one of the most successful in the country and is actively tracking unique data.

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