2018 Honoree

Poppy Harlow

Anchor, CNN

In your opinion, what qualities make a “Power Woman”?

Listening well. Raising up others. Being persistent. The juggle/multitasking!

With all the different issues one could focus on, how do you balance your efforts in pursuit of gender equality? Is it a global approach or a specific issue that you are passionate about?

Working toward equality for all people–regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status–should be part of what we focus on each day. For me, as a journalist, I am constantly thinking about how we highlight solutions of inequality on all fronts. As a mother of two children, I am also very focused on solutions that can help all parents–whether it is affording child care, maternal health, or parental leave. It is my responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless on all issues of equality.

If you could have someone else’s job for a day, who and what would it be? Why?

A supreme court justice. As the daughter of a litigator, I’ve always been fascinated by our justice system.

Which historical figure do you most identify with?

My father. He passed away when I was fifteen-years-old and, in every way, I am my father’s daughter. He truly loved his work and would sometimes work around the clock, but somehow he always made time for our family and us as kids. He was constantly curious, wanting to know why and how things worked. I find myself channeling my father many times in interviews I do–probing for answers.

In what way do you work for women’s power and equality? What do you think is the number one action we as a society can take (e.g. affirmative action)?

No. I report on politics daily, but I am not personally involved in politics.

Can you tell us a short story in which you encountered a block in the work place and what you did about it?

No, but I can tell you about grasping a great opportunity! I came to CNN as a young, relatively inexperienced journalist. In fact, I had never reported on live TV when CNN hired me in late 2007. A few months after that, the market crashed in 2008 and I was at the NASDAQ. A show producer called and asked if I could jump on air and report on what was happening. It was truly sink or swim, as my boss at the time told me. I had no idea what I was doing, but I knew the market and I knew the content, so I went for it! So much of life is about grabbing those opportunities when they present themselves–even if you don’t feel 100% ready for them.

Have you seen any changes in the political landscape for women over the past few years? If so, what are they?

Yes. More women are running, a lot more women! Maybe congress will be 50/50 men and women by the time my daughter can vote. What a world that would be!

Was there a defining moment or experience in your life that led you to where you are today? What was it?

Absolutely. From a young age, I had my heart set on being a lawyer, just like my father. I went to Columbia University–like my father–and studied extremely hard. I got straight As and thought I was doing it all right. But then, I didn’t get in to any of my top law school choices. I was devastated. I felt like a failure. But, I swear that is the best professional thing that has happened to me. It made me choose a “side door,” or “option B.” That was journalism. I’d been interning at CBS MarketWatch all through college, but never thought journalism would be my career. How lucky I am that law school didn’t work out…and that journalism did!

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

“Why not ask.” My mom gave me that advice–and showed me through her example–when I was a young girl. It is the reason I first asked Warren Buffett for an interview when I was a relatively new, young journalist. He said yes! It is how I have approached my career [and life] ever since.

Who do you most admire? Why?

My husband. His ability to see life in a truly “big picture” way and always prioritize what is most important inspires me. He tells me, “pop the big bubbles–not the little ones.” He is a remarkable father, truly patient, kind, and deeply loving. I am driven to be better because of the man he is.

What is your favorite book (fiction or non-fiction)?

The Tao of Pooh.

What do you most value in your friends?


Which trait do you most deplore in yourself? In others?

Lack of patience. As my mom always said: “Patience is a virtue.” I wish I had more of it.

What do you consider to be the most over rated virtue?

Wealth. Money doesn’t buy happiness.

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