Inspire

Join the conversation with Shonda Rhimes

Shondaland.com represents everything Shonda Rhimes stands for—providing a home for complex and honest conversations around the human experience.

Diversity and equality have always been both natural and intentional themes throughout Shonda Rhimes’ vast body of work. With hit shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal,  she’s created platforms for inclusion, creating characters that represent diversity and reminding people from all walks of life—especially women—that their stories deserve to be told. Her latest project, Shondaland.com, adds to this narrative.

Launched in September 2017, Shondaland.com is an online space showcasing and celebrating women and their work. With an entire website dedicated to the conversations that matter to women today, Shonda continues to use her world-renowned superpowers for good, and it’s this same devotion to inclusion that inspired our latest collaboration.

Shared passion, vision, and goals were evident from the beginning and continue to carry through in Microsoft’s partnership with this new digital venture. More specifically, we’re focusing on celebrating women, the role of technology in today’s workplace, sharing stories, and creating moments of inspiration. It recently came to life with a set of panel discussions where successful and inspiring women were invited to share their experiences.

Portrait of Shonda Rhimes
Shonda and Valerie talk between takes

“I look at everybody as if they have an opportunity to teach me something. Because they do.“

– Shonda Rhimes

Language of Leadership

The first panel discussion, Language of Leadership, sparked lively, transparent, and relevant conversation as four leaders in politics, engineering, and the arts shared stories. Watch Shonda lead a conversation about leadership with Valerie Jarett, Mieko Kusano, and Chloe Arnold, discovering similarities and differences in their experiences. The main themes: be true to yourself, speak up, listen, learn, stay passionate, and be courageous.

Meet our panelists

We invited a diverse group of women—leaders in entertainment, government, media, and the arts—together to share their perspectives on leadership and how they’ve made important decisions in their careers.

Mieko Kusano - Senior Director Experience Strategy at Sonos, Inc.

“Listen to your inner voice and don’t let other people dictate your path.”
– Mieko Kusano

Mieko Kusano is Senior Director of Experience Strategy at Sonos, Inc. She’s an innovator by trade and was named one of “The 100 most creative people in business” by Fast Company in 2010. She once asked the question, “Why a Game Boy but no Game Girl?” and has since spent her career creating inclusive experiences for all people while celebrating our differences.

Chloe Arnold - co-founder of the DC Tap Festival

“The most empowering thing I had to learn was: stop thinking about what other people are thinking. Forge ahead, regardless.”
– Chloe Arnold

Chloe Arnold is the creative powerhouse behind the DC Tap Festival and viral tap sensations Syncopated Ladies. With over 50 million YouTube views (even Beyoncé’s a fan), she’s been instrumental in bringing tap to the masses, giving a stage to a diverse selection of strong female dancers and challenging the traditionally male-dominated tap industry.

Valerie Jarrett - Senior Advisor to Obama Foundation, Advocate

“Diversity is a strength. As leaders, we make better decisions if we’re surrounded by people who don’t just mimic everything we think.”
– Valerie Jarrett

Valerie Jarrett is a truly fierce, passionate, elegant, and relatable businessperson—as well as the longest serving Senior Advisor to former President Barack Obama. Listen, learn, and get inspired as she shares her experiences on being a working mother in public office, advocating for equality and opportunity for all Americans, and working to economically and politically empower women in the U.S. and around the world.

Check back on July 9 when we introduce you to the panelists and release footage of our Breaking New Ground panel. To discover more inspirational stories like the ones you’ve seen here, visit www.shondaland.com

Building a culture from the ground up

Learn what leaders like Shonda, Valerie, Mieko, and Chloe look for when they're assembling teams to help achieve a vision.

Finding a common thread

Director Lesley Chilcott, known for her work on films including An Inconvenient Truth and CodeStars, captured the panel discussions starting with Language of Leadership. She was particularly curious to explore if there was a common characteristic that Shonda, Mieko, Chloe, and Valerie shared.

“What I noticed is at some point, each of these amazing ladies just did what they wanted or knew to be right.”
-Lesley Chilcott

Lesley Chilcott
Behind the scenes at Shondaland