In one of my newsletters in the first year of Covid, I quoted Arundhati Roy’s essay in which she compares the pandemic to a portal through which we, as a global community, must pass through, and choose whether to carry the baggage from the pre-Covid era—smoky skies, dead rivers and dead ideas—or to leave behind the debates about how we got to this place, encouraging us instead to begin a post-Covid era with new ideas and new behaviors, based on the transformational learnings from a global reckoning with an invisible microbe that disrupted everything that was “normal” before. 

As I assess those learnings in my own life, I have had some reckonings with what I value and will carry forward. In the spirit of New Year’s Resolutions, I share them with you with gratitude for your follow-ship. 

1. The Best Antidote to Aging Is Activism. 

Getting arrested at #FireDrillFridays with my granddaughter on Dec. 20, 2019 inside the Hart Senate Office Building.

I’m certainly not the first to acknowledge this—my good friend, Jane Fonda, at 84, always an activist, is my prime example of a “primetime” spirit and strength that comes from a life of activism!  

For me, every commitment to a worthy cause—be it signing up to be a climate justice warrior or strategizing evacuations for Afghan journalists and women leaders following the Taliban return to power or just showing up where I can add value to a forum or a movement—these are the sources of my deepest joy. I believe that staying active and engaged contributes to what my grandchildren call “Gigi energy” and what I know is a part of an ageless spirit. 

2. Travel Is My Most Important Teacher. 

Roar Africa Women’s Learning Journey 2019

Growing up as I did in a small town in south Georgia, going anywhere for any purpose outside those limitations was my deepest desire and resulted in my greatest learning experiences. From my earliest travel adventures, chaperoning my college students to Europe in order to afford going there or more recently, curating women’s trips with my friend Deborah Calmeyer and RoarAfrica.comeach and every adventure to someplace new, each encounter with new cultures and communities, opens my mind as well as my heart. Even during this pandemic, I traveled to Kenya five times and each time had a learning journey that could not be duplicated in any other way for me or for my traveling companions.

Travel, especially for me and my husband, to the African continent where we re-wild in the wild, learn and re-learn—while certainly more challenging in the Covid era—remains a priority for me. 

3. Celebrating, Elevating and Connecting Women Is My Most Important Work.

In partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and with support from The Skoll Foundation, The Carter Center, the Council of Women World Leaders and Apolitical, we convened the Inaugural Global Women Leaders Summit at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center in Italy in 2017.

I am clearly a pro-women woman—believing as I do, that women who connect around common experiences and values, who support each other, mentor and advocate for each other, can redefine power by how we use it and share it. I believe this is our biggest lever for change, and a shift in the balance of power in all leadership positions is the work that is needed now more than ever. 

My life on the other side of the pandemic portal won’t look that different from this side, except for the clarity of my choices and the deep gratitude I feel for having choices, and the privilege that comes with good health, a loving and supportive personal partnership and a loving, supportive family, and a large global community of friends.

I begin every day with a prayer of gratitude for these blessings, and I begin this New Year, walking briskly and somewhat impatiently (the pandemic has improved my natural impatience but not banished it!) toward the other side of the pandemic portal where I believe we have the opportunity to leave behind the heavy baggage of doubts and fears that have populated this reckoning, and embrace the hope and joy that can come from activism, from travel—even to the other side of your town—and from being engaged in forward-focused work.

Happy New Year!

– Pat

PS – All of this activity keeps me at 78 (soon to be 79!) years young and makes me more dangerous than ever! (For that full story, you might want to read Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World!) It also keeps me interviewing other dangerous women about their journeys to becoming dangerous in my FINTECH.TV series, Dangerous Women, Leading Onward. These women continue to inspire, instruct and propel me forward. 


  • Pat Mitchell is a lifelong advocate for women and girls. At every step of her career, Mitchell has broken new ground for women, leveraging the power of media as a journalist, an Emmy award-winning and Oscar-nominated producer to tell women’s stories and increase the representation of women onscreen and off. Transitioning to an executive role, she became the president of CNN Productions, and the first woman president and CEO of PBS and the Paley Center for Media. Today, her commitment to connect and strengthen a global community of women leaders continues as a conference curator, advisor and mentor. In partnership with TED, Mitchell launched TEDWomen in 2010 and is its editorial director, curator and host. She is also a speaker and curator for the annual Women Working for the World forum in Bogota, Colombia, the Her Village conference in Beijing, and the Women of the World (WOW) festival in London. In 2017, she launched the Transformational Change Leadership Initiative with the Rockefeller Foundation focused on women leaders in government and civil society. In 2014, the Women’s Media Center honored Mitchell with its first-annual Lifetime Achievement Award, now named in her honor to commend other women whose media careers advance the representation of women. Recognized by Hollywood Reporter as one of the most powerful women in media, Fast Company’s “League of Extraordinary Women” and Huffington Post’s list of “Powerful Women Over 50,” Mitchell also received the Sandra Day O'Connor Award for Leadership. She is a contributor to Enlightened Power: How Women Are Transforming the Practice of Leadership, and wrote the introduction to the recently published book and museum exhibition, 130 Women of Impact in 30 Countries. In 2016, she served as a congressional appointment to The American Museum of Women’s History Advisory Council. She is writing a memoir, Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing a Life of Power and Purpose, that will be published in 2019. Mitchell is active with many nonprofit organizations, serving as the chair of the boards of the Sundance Institute and the Women’s Media Center. She is a founding member of the VDAY movement and on the boards of the Skoll Foundation and the Acumen Fund. She is also an advisor to Participant Media and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. Mitchell is a magna cum laude graduate of the University of Georgia and holds a master's degree in English literature and several honorary doctorate degrees. She and her husband, Scott Seydel, live in Atlanta and have six children and 13 grandchildren.