The Most Powerful Moms Of 2010 Our parenting segment often discusses the challenges that many mothers face in raising families. Helen Jonsen, editor of, tells Michel Martin about the website's list of Most Powerful Moms of 2010. The list recognizes women who've made tremendous contributions at home, in their communities and their careers.
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The Most Powerful Moms Of 2010

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The Most Powerful Moms Of 2010

The Most Powerful Moms Of 2010

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In a few minutes we'll have our regular moms conversation, but first, we're going to take a moment to recognize women who have made tremendous contributions at home, in their communities and their careers. They are the women honored in's list of the most powerful moms of 2010.

We wanted to learn more about some of these women and pick up a thing or two on balancing work and family life, so we've called upon Helen Jonsen. She's the editor of, and the director of digital media for Working Mother Media; and she's with us now from our bureau in New York.

Welcome. Happy holidays to you.

Ms. HELEN JONSEN (Editor, Hi, Michel. Happy New Year to you.

MARTIN: How did you put this list together?

Ms. JONSEN: We have looked, all year, at the most powerful moms in a number of different categories and industries. So when it came to the end of the year, we looked at all of those and said, okay, who on each of our lists is the most powerful of all on that list.

And we look at power a little differently, maybe, than a Forbes or a Fortune. It's not a dollar amount. It's more of the influence, the interest, and the involvement of these women; and on top of it, they have to be moms with at least one child 18 or younger.

MARTIN: Let's talk about the woman named as the most powerful mom of 2010, Sheryl Sandberg. She is the chief operating officer of Facebook.

Ms. JONSEN: That's right.

MARTIN: And here's a clip of her talking about leadership to students at Stanford University.

(Soundbite of Speech of Sheryl Sandberg)

Ms. SHERYL SANDBERG (Chief Operating Officer, Facebook): You can lead all day long, but if you're leading people to, you know, make soap, that's important. But does it have that I want to follow this, I want to, you know, serve this mission 'til the end of - I want to stay up all night and work all day just for that mission? It's having a great vision, that I think, becomes the basis of real leadership.

MARTIN: Why did Sheryl Sandberg top this list? And then I want to ask you a question about what she just said. But tell me why she made the top of the most powerful list.

Ms. JONSEN: Right. I think certainly Facebook is leading the way in a whole new realm of communications. With the size of Facebook and its reach, globally, Sheryl Sandberg has enormous power. And it's also a very unique relationship. She's working with Mark Zuckerberg who is the CEO, and because of all that reach, and also her discussions of work-life balance, her family at home, we found her the most powerful mom of 2010.

MARTIN: You know, I want to ask you about that whole work-life balance question, because her comment there does not sound like a work-life balance comment. You know, stay up all night, work all day to serve that mission - so I just have to ask, is this really lifting up a different vision of leadership?

Ms. JONSEN: I think that's a limited statement. I heard the rest of that same discussion at Stanford, and she spoke very directly - it was to a group of MBA students - and really talked about making life choices. It's sort of the feeling of you can have it all, but maybe not all at once. And choosing the right partner - in her case, a long-term partnership with her husband - making choices for how they have time for their family and what they do with their family.

And she talks, very well, of leading and setting a role model and example for her children, as well.

MARTIN: So she's walking the walk. So there's more to it, I guess, is what you're saying.

Ms. JONSEN: More to everyone, yeah.

MARTIN: Okay. You also spotlight a mom from the world of sport, Kim Clijsters, a world tennis champion who left the game to start a family in 2005. Then she came back and won her second U.S. Open in 2009, and went onto win a third in 2010. So what do you think Kim Clijster's example may tell us about what's possible?

Ms. JONSEN: I think what it tells us is that you don't stop. I mean, a generation ago, a woman who became pregnant was not allowed to teach in many classrooms because of her pregnancy bump. So we've really, really come a very long way. And I think if athletes can get their bodies back, and they're happy to be on the road and competing, and they have a good support system, it works.

MARTIN: And I think obviously there are some choices on the list that everybody will know, like First Lady Michele Obama, certainly somebody many people will recognize.

But here's a choice that I think was very interesting, Brigadier General Michelle Johnson. Now, she's the first woman to serve as a cadet wing commander at the United States Air Force Academy, and she's the director of strategy policy programs and logistics in the Air Force.

I was intrigued by this, because, as I think many people may remember, the Air Force Academy, for a time, had gone through a very terrible period of, you know, intense sexual harassment of women. And so I'd like to ask what do you think her selection demonstrates, and the selection for her in this position, demonstrates?

Ms. JONSEN: I think what it says is she got through the Academy maybe during some of that time, but she's become a role model for other women in the Air Force who know that they have an opportunity to reach the top. And because there are women at the top, there is much more opportunity for women in the services now, and certainly a lot more support for working mothers in the services.

And that's been a real change, because, again, going back a generation, if you became pregnant, you were no longer welcome in the military. And yet, there are women now, in the military, with families, whose children are older now, up into their 20's. And these were the groundbreakers.

Michelle Johnson is a little bit younger. She comes in just behind the groundbreakers. She has twin sons who are ten, and she credits a better work-life balance by her husband, who was also a pilot who is now retired and working as a stay-at-home dad.

MARTIN: Wow, see twin mom. See, you got me there. I didn't know that. All right. Finally, do you think that is some through line here. You've been thinking about this a lot and looking at these resumes and talking to these women all year long, did you find any common trait?

Ms. JONSEN: I think not so much a trait, but a need. And the need is usually a passion or an interest, either to excel at what they do, or to do it well for other people. And most also have an interest of being really good at what they do so other women will come up behind them, and I think that's a very exciting piece of all this.

MARTIN: Well, we'll see what happens next year. Helen Jonsen is editor of, and the director of digital media for Working Mother Media. She was kind enough to join us from our bureau in snowy, New York.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Ms. JONSEN: You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Michel, and happy New Year everyone.

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