Megan Rapinoe’s reign is drawing to a close. But the global soccer star’s influence and activism is sure to continue to be felt on and off the pitch.
After 11 seasons with Seattle’s OL Reign — and a decorated international career that includes two Olympic medals and two World Cup titles — Rapinoe is playing her final regular season home match on Friday night at Lumen Field.
It’s been a weeklong celebration in Seattle in Rapinoe’s honor, and the party will continue at the stadium where a record 28,000+ fans are expected to take in numerous activities and tributes tied to the “Forever Rapinoe” celebration.
Beyond her prolific goal-scoring career, Rapinoe is celebrated for her outspoken commitment to social justice causes including issues related to race, the LGBTQ community, equal pay for women and more.
With that legacy in mind, we reached out to a number of leaders from Seattle’s tech community, to ask how Rapinoe has inspired them and what lessons they draw from her to apply to their own lives and careers.
Keep reading for their answers. And take note that the GeekWire website is paying tribute to Rapinoe, too, with a color swap on this eventful day.
Laura Clise is founder and CEO of Intentionalist, a Seattle-based startup that promotes small companies.
“Being a true ally isn’t about using your platform when it’s easy — it’s about using your platform and privilege when it’s hard — when there’s the very real possibility that doing so might come at a cost. I remember the days, weeks, and months that followed Megan’s decision to kneel in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. Her resolve was rooted in principle — in the belief that it’s important to try to do what is right, and that it’s our responsibility to take action in the face of injustice.
“Megan has long inspired me because she shows up, walks the talk, passes the mic, and is willing to fight for what is right. I feel incredibly fortunate to have known and had the opportunity to collaborate with her earlier in her career, and know that her impact will only grow as she eventually embarks on her next chapter.”
- Read more on the Intentionalist blog: 15 diverse small businesses that embody Megan Rapinoe’s social justice activism
Lauren Sato is entrepreneur-in-residence at Seattle hardware startup studio Conduit Venture Labs.
“The way that Megan has led from her values without compromise or apology on and off the field has resonated deeply with me. As a woman in leadership we are often held to an impossibly high standard and that can wear on the best of us. Watching Megan persist over the years across so many moments (her solidarity with Colin Kapernick) and challenges (the USWNT fight for equal pay) has genuinely kept me going.
“A lot of people are saying that women’s sports are having a moment. I hope they’re wrong. I hope this is so much more than a moment. Megan played a huge role in bringing the power of women’s sports to the world, and we are fortunate that she calls Seattle home. I’m sure whatever she chooses to do next will continue her impact on our city and humanity. I personally look forward to continuing to cheer her on as she moves into this next chapter.”
Heather Redman is co-founder and managing partner at Seattle venture capital firm Flying Fish.
“She’s a great role model in so many ways, but I’d have to say that her work on pay equity and creating opportunity deep into women’s soccer internationally is really a standout. I think she’s been very effective at building a power base and brand from which to speak and drive action on a number of fronts including this one. There are some key lessons there. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Chrissy Vaughn is senior director of public relations for Smartsheet, a Bellevue, Wash.-based work management software company.
“As a leader, I strive to be a team player and a team builder who’s not afraid to challenge the status quo. On the days when that becomes challenging — because, let’s face it, we’ve made progress, but being a woman in tech means my voice hasn’t always been heard — it’s inspiring to see public figures like Rapinoe. She has an unabashed and seemingly fearless confidence to be her authentic self, speak her mind and use her voice to advocate for equity off the field, all while excelling to the highest levels of her profession on the field.
“Rapinoe and the USWNT have also been trailblazers in knowing their own worth and tenaciously advocating to be compensated for it. Being one of the 58,000 fans chanting “Equal pay! Equal pay!” in the Parc Olympique Lyonnais stadium after the U.S. women won the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup final was a watershed moment for me in connecting the team’s fight for equity to my own career and to the women I mentor.
“My hope is that the young girls and boys who see Rapinoe and her incredible legacy being celebrated this week will see that women deserve the spotlight, deserve the support, deserve the compensation and most of all deserve to be heard — on and off the pitch.”
Lorraine Bardeen is a corporate vice president and CTO with Microsoft’s Commercial Solutions Area group.
“I’ve honestly drawn multiple lessons from Megan’s role modeling that I’ve been able to directly apply as a tech leader. A few of them:
“Megan is clear that as her role (and fame) grew, she consciously chose to take on more responsibility to be a voice for people with less privilege. This role modeling that the more privilege you have, the more accountability you have to put yourself out there as a voice for positive, inclusive change truly resonates for me. As I’ve moved into leadership positions, I’ve made the same conscious choice to be ‘out’ as a voice for the LGBTQIA+ community, for people of color, and for other underrepresented groups in my industry.
“Megan balances confidence that she can do something extraordinary with humility and grace with herself when she doesn’t perform as she had hoped. In the fast-moving world of technology, we have failures sometimes – products that didn’t resonate as we had hoped with our customers, for instance. I can only do my job well as a leader if I inspire people to aspire to the extraordinary but also model how to handle disappointment and failure with positivity and renewed energy for the next ‘game.’
“As a leader, the spotlight can go directly to me to have answers or to provide direction. Megan does an excellent job of balancing being a leading voice, but doing so very much in sync with her full team. I am similarly intentional in leading together with my team, with striving for as decentralized and empowered decision making as possible, and only stepping into the spotlight when it truly brings outsized value to the full team.”
Kieran Snyder is co-founder and CEO of Seattle-based augmented writing platform Textio.
“[Rapinoe] has been willing to speak out about the disparate treatment between men’s and women’s sports in a way that has been motivating for an entire generation. She is not afraid of cultivating dissent in a way I find quite inspiring. Her impact goes way beyond professional soccer.”