We celebrate women in the month of March and we would like to introduce extraordinary women doing extraordinary things around the country. From successes in male-dominated worlds to breaking ground in the halls of Capitol Hill.
We start right here in our own backyard. Meeting a mother of five who’s making a name for herself while watching her children thrive on the pro-surfing circuit.
Surfer. Entrepreneur. Photographer.
Pick a title and you can bet it describes Tammy Moniz. A woman who makes her living on Waikiki Beach. But is most proud of her title as ‘mom’.
“I have three younger brothers and my mom raised us by herself. So we grew up kind of tight. Me and my brothers took care of each other although they drove me crazy. I was like nobody else could hurt them because I was like the mama bear over them. So I think that’s where I kinda got my mama bear kinda deal,“ said Moniz.
And that’s not a bad deal to have when you’re raising 5 kids–all successful surfer, following in dad Tony’s pro suring footsteps and helping out with the family business, Faith Surf School.
“I was very fortunate. I was thankful Tony wanted me to stay home because that was my dream to have a lot of kids and I was very thankful I got to stay home to raise them and feed them. I just couldn’t imagine having to share them with someone else to raise them,“ says Moniz.
But she’ll be the first one to tell you her dream come true was a nightmare at times.
“I was like I have 5 kids, 5 and under, I think that was a big moment for me realizing how crazy this was. I was buying 3 sizes of diapers at the same time at Costco. You could see my bill was so expensive just to get diapers,“ says Moniz.
And that’s on top of homeschooling them.
“It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t at all. It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life. Other than being married for 30 years,“ she says.
Now that the kids are grown, Tammy has more time for her herself and not always by choice.
“Now I’ll tell the boys when the waves are good, “call me okay?!“ Do you think I get a call? Nope! No phone call. In fact anything I say they call it a lecture. So I’m trying to back off a little bit and I’m trying to back off a little bit and not being a lecturerer and its really hard,“ says Moniz.
What’s not as hard? Her role as grandma.
“I love being a grandma of course, I try to be there as much as I can. Its interesting because people say isn’t it the best being a grandma, a grandparent, wait until you have a grandchild. It is the most beautiful thing,“ she says.
If she’s not babysitting the grandkids or running the business, you’ll probably find her on the beach with camera in hand.
“I’e always enjoyed taking photos when when I was back in high school because to me faces are so beautiful. And the life on people’s faces are so beautiful. I think I enjoy taking people, doing stuff and doing things in the moment. I love instagram because I love photos and I love beauty,“ says Moniz.
In fact, she’s become sort of insta -famous with more than 25,000 followers. Just don’t get the beauty captured in a photo confused with the day to day reality.
“Especially when someone says ‘oh my gosh you have the perfect family, I wanna be like you.’ I’m like I don’t. If you just seen my life yesterday, I don’t know if you want to be like us and that’s the thing. It’s like I always try to spend time to remind people we’re not going to feature our bad stuff on Instagram. Instagram is for the beauty that we share to remind us of the beauty that’s in our life because some times we need that, the reminders. You know because sometimes you see a sunset or sunrise it reminds you there’s a biggerness out there. That we get so focused on the little things and our struggles and trips and sometimes we need to look up and see the beauty.
Seeing the beauty through the mistakes.
“We’re all doing life together whether you’re working or you’re doing a family, its celebrating life and relationships you know. So as a woman we have a lot to give to family, we’re nurturing or more organized or what ever but you know we’re not alone. We need the support of people around us to do love right.
Their pictures line the walls of the “National Women’s Hall of Fame“ in Seneca Falls, New York.
276 authors, astronauts, actresses and athletes, to name a few. Many are world famous, some you may not know. And every year, more women are added to recognize their contributions to the nation and the world. This year, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, actress Jane Fonda and attorney Gloria Allred are among the inductees.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is arguably the most powerful woman in America. She is the first woman voted Speaker of the House – and when democrats reclaimed the majority in the House – she’s the first to return to that position. But, as she told our Colleen Marshall, climbing the political ladder also means she has a chance to reach down and bring other women along.
She is the first, but does not want to be the last. After eight years of being mired in minority politics – Nancy Pelosi is back on top, again holding the speaker’s gavel, and working to put more women in seats of power.
Colleen: Is that a goal for you?
Pelosi: It is not a goal. It’s an imperative. When I first came here there were 23 women in Congress, 12 democrats, 11 republicans, we made a decision on our side to increase that number. We have now 91.
A record number, applauded even by President Trump during the State of the Union. Democrats encouraged all congressional women to wear white to honor women’s suffrage. But women in Pelosi’s party are not thinking or voting with a single mind.
“I always say our diversity is our strength. Diversity in every way, gender, ethnicity, generationally, geographically, yes philosophically. That’s our strength, our diversity. Our unity is our power,“ said Pelosi.
A power Pelosi reclaimed in 2018, admitting the 2016 presidential election was traumatic for women in her party and caused her to shelve a plan to retire from congress.
“I did really believe that if Hillary Clinton had won for president and there would be a woman at the very head of the table the Affordable Care Act would be protected, our initiatives for children – Hillary Clinton so committed – that I could go home and work in the community and not necessarily in Congress. But that didn’t happen and so here I am still.“
First elected to Congress in 1987, Pelosi – remarkably – describes herself as naturally shy. A mother of five, she says she was driven to public service by a desire to advance policies supportive of children.
“I always say to people, put a gold star next to your experience as a mom. Some people say oh well I have this space where I was just a mom. I always say don’t ever say I was just a mom or just a housewife that’s a balance of diplomacy, interpersonal relationships, quartermastering, care, feeding, driving all the other things and also just keeping the peace letting everyone reach their fulfillment not at the expense of anyone else.“
Colleen: Back in the 80s there was a saying that I remember that women have to work twice as hard to get half as far. There was this feeling that there were a limited number of seats at the table for women. Was that daunting for you or was that the challenge that was inspirational for you?
Pelosi: Well first of all, there were no seats at the table for women in terms of a leadership table. Twice as hard for half as much recognition probably was true then and I don’t want it to be true now. So I say to women just know your power, be confident in what you bring to the table, there’s nobody like you. The authenticity of you is your strength and the country needs you.“
In Washington DC, Colleen Marshall
Next we head to Austin, Texas, a city that’s recognizing the unique strengths that only women can bring to its police department. Jacqulyn Powell looks at how a couple of the department’s female role-models are leading the way.
Lieutenant Katrina Pruitt and officer Katrina Ratcliff.
Same love for police work.
At very different stages of their careers.
Officer Ratcliff has been with the Austin Police Department for two years.
Ratcliff: My interests are definitely in shooting and driving. That’s like two of my favorite skills.
She’s already training to become a trainer. And help women hone these skills. She’ll need four years of patrol experience – before she can specialize at the training academy. So, in the meantime– she’s keeping herself occupied.
Ratcliff: Being on American Ninja Warrior, it’s gained me a lot of visibility.
That’s right she’s applied and been chosen for the popular show – not once, but twice. Both times with a special goal motivating her.
Ratcliff: Rather than hiding that we’re a police officer for our safety, to be vocal about it, to show people that I am just a normal human and I do have a heart behind the badge.
A heart for helping people…That Lieutenant Pruitt says she’s always had, too. Over the years – she’s covered just about every area of expertise you can imagine. And with all that experience — she became the first ever female to oversee APD’s Swat Team.
Pruitt: They’re 90 to nothing all the time, and trying to keep up is interesting sometimes.
Pruitt could have retired five years ago. But she wants to make one change before that happens.
Pruitt: We’ve never had a female that was an actual swat operator.
The things that officers say set women apart also make them valuable on special teams.
Ratcliff: Not only can we deescalate things, we can figure out different ways to problem solve, we have a different nature to handle things.
In Austin, Jacqulyn Powell.
Back to you.
If female police officers are rare female police chiefs are moreso. Among the one-hundred largest cities in the U.S. about a dozen have female chiefs. And that includes Honolulu.
Chief Susan Ballard earned the number one badge in November 2017. She’s been with the department since 1985.
She’s the epitome of what one person can do to change the lives of many. Candy Suiso followed her truth, her passion. And in doing so, has been inspiring and allowing younger generations to discover and follow their own.
In a nutshell Candy Suiso, Wai’anae High School Searider ’73 grad.
26 years later.
Paul Lemahieu, 1999 schools superintendent: “We are here to recognize one of the best educators in all of our country.“
National Milken Award winner at Wai’anae High School.
And 20 years after this.
Candy Suiso, Searider Productions Co-Founder: “So we went from 2 classrooms then 4 classrooms then we came to this building.“
Watching the garden she planted called Searider Productions, grow.
But it wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t planned.
Candy Suiso: “After I got certified as a teacher I really wanted to come back to Waianae High School. Being a graduate and growing up here and living here. I knew that this is where I wanted to teach.“
But the school told this Social Studies teacher she’d also have to teach Spanish.
Candy Suiso: “But I remember taking that position and I stayed one chapter ahead of the kids. Because back in the late 80’s there were very few spanish speaking in Hawaii let alone in Waianae. So I just stayed one chapter ahead of all of the kids and winged it. We sang a lot of songs, we cooked a lot of food, we danced, we made pinatas.“
And then a brilliant idea that changed everything.
Candy Suiso: “ I used a VHS camera in the classroom as a tool. I just said lets try that, plugged it in the wall and I would have the kids introduce each other. I realized that the video camera was a hook to make learning fun and to make learning relavent. So 7 years into teaching I went to the principal I said I need to take a sabbatical, I can’t teach them anymore than I know now, I need to go back to school unless you let me run a video production program. I wanted to get funding to do that because I knew that our kids would kick butt if they could do it in english, what they were doing in spanish.“
The principal introduced her to Norman Chock, a teacher hired to run a radio station on campus and the two came up with a plan.
Candy Suiso: “We took it the next day to the principal, he looked through it, he went ah, okay give me a budget, I remember that so we looked at each other and said okay.“
They received $45,000 and in September 1993, launched Searider Productions.
Candy Suiso: “Two class rooms no air conditioning, 85 students, two teachers 6 cameras and one edit bay and that was the start.“
Candy Suiso: “ Hot and sweaty and they were packed in and they’d have to wait their turn to edit or share the cameras but they never complained and I remember, I remember that motivated me because I thought they were just thankful to have what they have.“
John Allen, Searider Productions Alumnus: “When it started with her it was like literally like okay lets do this, let’s have fun doing this stuff, and you guys can do it, I believe in you, I trust you with this equipment. This thousands of dollars worth of equipment. She’ll always admit that she never had the technical skills but what she had in terms of like empowering people to believe that they could, that’s something that shaped who I am today.“
Within a few years, the community took notice, started donating equipment, resources and funding.
Candy Suiso: “ Well Norman Chock was just incredible technical wise he started to win us national awards, he knew how to, he taught kids how to edit and I was just the, you know once a cheerleader always a cheerleader I guess. You guys have to do this, you got to make it fun and here’s the ideas.“
This is Ikaika Sugui in a video he created.
Ikaika Sugui, Searider Productions Alumnus: “Searider productions was actually very important. I think it was a great way to keep myself and a lot of my classmates in school and involved. For me it was a strong impact because it actually helped me to go full circle and come back here as a teacher.“
The boy who said he never wanted to go to college, became this man who earned his masters in education last may, he says because of his experience and support here at Searider Productions. Sugui now teaches graphic design here. One of his students created this trail mix packaging, using a 3-d printer.
John Allen became a professional videographer,
John Allen: “There was a stigma, when I said I was from Wai’anae there was a step back, people would step back and say oh, what are you doing here? And that actually happened a couple of times and from that point on I wanted to dedicate myself to figuring out how to change that mentality.“
So he went back to school and got his teaching degree two years ago.
John Allen: “ To help see this dream of hers come true because it’s insane how far we’ve come since the first days when I was in this class.“
In addition to Allen and Sugui, 4 more full-time teachers now, including an early college coordinator More than 300 students learning 3-d animation, web design, journalism, of course video production.
Candy Suiso: “ We also have what we call edu prizes, so a lot of the money we make from our graphic arts, t-shirt sales, our videos and our photography comes right back to our program. We’re now running, it all goes into Seariders Productions Foundation.“
John Allen: “Where we are now, where people look at us and the way people react when we say we’re from Searider Productions at Wai’anae High School the mentality is changed outside the community which is amazing to me.“
Suiso hasn’t taught since 2002.
Candy Suiso: “ I really miss it because I don’t have the relationship but I see the touch that the teachers now on staff have and I’m glad that the baton has been passed.“
You’d think that means more time for her family business, Makaha Mangoes–70 trees, more than a dozen varieties. But what that does is provide her balance, as she still works hard with searider productions, as program director Looking for funding, managing funding, promoting the program. And the fruits of her labor are sprouting here too. The state legislature has provided ten-and-a-half-million dollars for a new, bigger, better home on campus. An entire Searider Pproductions complex. The program always growing and changing with technology, always cutting edge and always with what money can’t buy.
Ikaika Sugui: “People like Mrs. Suiso and the former advisors, they set the bar really high .“
John Allen: “It’s not about the videos, it’s not about the graphic designs, it’s more about the values and the sense of belonging that we kind of created here and that idea of giving back to wherever you are.“
Candy Suiso: “That’s what inspires me to continue, that’s what inspires me to do what I do. You know I’m at the age when I can retire but I’m not ready to retire. There’s so much more work to do. The work isn’t done.“
John Allen: “She’ll probably kill us if we ever name the building after her. Don’t tell her I said that cause she’ll probably kill us She’s already made it very adamant–don’t name the building after me. But uh we’ll find a way to get around that at some point.“
Candy Suiso: “No, it will be the Searider Productions, no one does anything alone.“
We have one more fabulous female to tell you about. And if we had to guess, there’s still much more to come from this one.
Meet Katie Stagliano of South Carolina. She’s 19 years old and already a busy entrepreneur on a mission to feed America. At age nine she realized how many people struggle to put food on the table. Right now it’s one in eight Americans. So she got to work in her garden. And started donating her fruits and veggies. And from that–her non-profit ‘Katie’s Krops‘ was born. It now has 100 gardens growing in 31 states across the country.
Katie Stagliano, Founder, Katie’s Krops: “And all of these gardens are run by youth between the ages of 9 and 16 at schools, in their backyard, community centers, churches, libraries. And it’s so important for kids to learn about gardening at an early age or how to be able to feed themselves, feed their neighbors.“
Last year, Katie’s Krops donated more than 40 thousand pounds of fresh produce to people in need.
We hope these stories have inspired and encouraged you to follow your dreams. No matter the challenges.