2014 Honoree

Ashleigh Banfield

Host, CNN’s Legal View with Ashleigh Banfield

“…what I know now is that you can be so much more successful listening than talking.”

Who inspires you the most?

My mother inspires me the most. She was the breadwinner of a family with four children back in the 60s and 70s. That was such an unusual time for women to be working let alone for women to be breadwinners. I figured if she could do it with 4 kids none of us has any excuses.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty years ago?

That you can never lose weight on fad diets! No, seriously… what I know now is that you can be so much more successful by listening rather than talking, which defies logic for a broadcaster, but it makes perfect sense. Good broadcasters are people who have a range of perspective and a full understanding of a broad range of issues. You can only get THAT, by listening.

Fill in the blank: You can never have enough _______.


What City best describes your personality?

New York. It’s loud, it’s complex, it’s bright, it’s sassy, it’s dark, and it almost never shuts down. That’s me!

What gets you through even the toughest days and what are you most grateful for?

My children get me through the toughest days… and it is for them I am most grateful. I’m grateful for my health, I’m grateful for my family, I’m grateful for the opportunities that I have received, discovered, and ferreted out. But when the chips are really down I’m most grateful for my beautiful children.

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most? Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media?

The biggest socio political women’s issue for me is…”Regard.” It’s not something that gets discussed printed or debated. It’s something that just is. How people regard women. It plagues me most days, certainly in my industry where the value of man increases as he ages… and the value of a woman decreases similarly. I am frustrated to the point of nausea when a simple walk down a New York City sidewalk yields dozens, if not hundreds, of images of impossibly beautiful women selling us impossibly expensive things. As arguments go, this is an oldie but a goodie. Things will never change until everyone decides that to do so is a necessity.

Despite separation between Church & State, religion still seems to govern decisions regarding women – abortions, birth control, etc. How do we shift power over women’s bodies to women?

The best way to shift power anywhere, whether it’s women shifting power to women, men shifting power to women, or anyone shifting power anywhere, is to VOTE. Voter turnout in the United States is abysmal when compared worldwide. Freedom and democracy are so precious and so hard fought, but the apathy displayed every election cycle makes it clear what it took to get us here is being forgotten.

What is your best read? Favorite character you would most like to be?

It’s hard to choose a “best read” but one of my most recent “best reads” was Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. And while I would never want to be the true character in that book, Louis Zamperini, I wish I had just one shred of his resilience, courage, and patriotism.

What will it take for women to be viewed as equal to men?

For women to be viewed equal to men, I think first and foremost women might stop competing with one another to the extent that they do. I’ve always been a firm believer that there’s plenty of room at the top. But I’ve been very concerned during my decades long career that women fight each other for coveted space at the top. As JFK once said “a rising tide floats all boats” and I believe this to be true in the battle for equality for women.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

Best decision I’ve made to date was to run TOWARDS the burning World Trade Center instead of in the other direction. As far as the worst decision I’ve ever made, I’m pretty sure I haven’t made it yet.

Social media has exploded. How can women use it to market themselves without seeming narcissistic?

For women to market themselves, they need to believe there’s nothing narcissistic about marketing yourself! There’s no difference in men marketing themselves using social media than women doing so. If a woman fears that marketing herself makes her narcissistic, then she’s in a cycle of a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Write a fortune you’d like for all women to receive in a fortune cookie.

When you reach for the top… don’t forget to extend your hand down to the woman below.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

I’d like the power to freeze my surroundings. Sometimes I wish I could ponder moments -both good and bad- without the calamity of chaos. I’d especially like this super power at home!

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