Highlight Reel from MO: Real Missourians, Real Stories | Dana Sandweiss

How did you begin political/social work; what was the first experience?

I grew up with parents who were advocates. I am drawn to people who inspire and make change. As I became more educated, I found myself wanting to have more knowledge so I earned a law degree to learn more about our political system but at that point, I still had no specific goals in mind. Years after graduating from law school, I joined the Planned Parenthood board where I was empowered by other board members and staff who were dissecting and solving problems. I remember thinking, “Wow, you can just change that?” And that is really when I started to put it all together. These people were not only talking about the issues, not only coming up with solutions, but they were also acting and implementing positive change. This is when I realized that I too could help.  

What is something you want to win; that will make MO a better place?

I want to make sure that there is affordable access to reproductive healthcare for every person in Missouri. I want voting to be easier and more accessible. I would like to see a Missouri Governor Nicole Galloway, a Missouri Secretary of State Yinka Faleti and a State Senator Deb Lavender.  But mostly, I want to win the trust and confidence of Missourians so that they will continue to be active and believe that you can have an impact by participating in our democracy. 

What are you working on right now?

I serve on boards and help raise awareness for the important work of Planned Parenthood, ACLU-MO, Progress Women, Access MO and It Starts Today Missouri.  I also help raise awareness about political candidates and organizations throughout the state that are aligned with my values.   

What inspires you in your work lately?

People. People always inspire me. I am in awe of the strengths of others.

What’s the most important thing you want MO ex-pats to know about MO?

From the outside, progressives may think Missouri looks like a hopeless cause, but that perception is very far from the truth.  On the ground, the state is filled with positive energy, brilliant passionate people and strategic coalitions all working together to increase protections for civil liberties and restore a more progressive platform to Missouri politics.  Progressive state-wide ballot initiative wins in 2018 demonstrate that a major of Missourians want these changes as well. We have lots of strong candidates on the 2020 ballot in Missouri and if we invest in the candidates and allow them to spread their messages throughout the state, we have the ingredients for big changes.   

What’s been your proudest moment in your work for social/political change?

My work has so many rewarding moments but it has been particularly rewarding watching Planned Parenthood’s Women’s Leadership Circle grow from its inception in 2012 to over 600 current members.

Tell us about someone who has helped and or inspired you in becoming a leader in this work?

So many people along my path have inspired me but three women come to mind that inspired me early on . . . Geetha Sant, Shanti Parikh and Linda Raclin.  All three are brilliant, strategic, daring, strong and welcoming women that have inspired me and continue to inspire me at every step along my journey. 

What is the most important thing we can do in 2020 to make MO better?

Continue to push for positive social change while engaging with and educating new people.