✨ Happy Monday! For today's #MentorMonday, we're featuring the incredible Gina Ender (@ginaender)! Read how Gina uses her mighty strong spark of writing and reporting to inform, uplift, and amplify the stories of her neighbors and those outside her community. ✨
What would you define as your spark; that thing that makes you feel most alive, your passion, dream or purpose?
My spark is using my voice as a writer to equip and empower communities with timely and truthful information and stories. When we know what’s happening in our neighborhoods, we get a better understanding and appreciation for who our neighbors are and why their experiences matter. Whether I’m writing a speech for 10 people or 10 million people, my mission is to inform and uplift my audience. I love to spotlight inspiring residents in newsletters and on social media who are making our community better by using their talents and passions. When I learn about the people around me, I’m able to honor what they’ve overcome, empathize with their perspective, and amplify their story with dignity.
How did you find your spark?
In second grade, I spent a lot of time obsessing about words. Every day, my teacher gave us a writing prompt, and I was always filling up the page long after everyone else put their pencil down because I wanted to answer thoroughly and thoughtfully. This was also the height of my devotion to the American Girl franchise. The books featured fictional girls my age who came from across the world and had a unique story to tell, and the magazines always included a Q & A section where real girls could write in to ask for advice. In my writing and my reading, I was drawn to dialogue. For me, the best part of writing is the conversation. It’s not stagnant on the page, but illustrates a true human connection that is a result of someone posing a sincere question and another bravely answering.
How do you nurture your spark?
A good storyteller is a committed consumer of other people’s stories. I nurture my spark by saturating myself in stories told in other mediums and styles. As someone who writes about serious news most days, I’m refreshed by types of media that are completely unrelated to my daily work. I especially enjoy interview-driven podcasts because they take on a different tone and technique than the way I craft my stories. This expands my toolbox, inspires how I pose questions, and enables me to have fun by changing up my usual approach.
What is one piece of advice you'd give to young girls and/or moms raising daughters?
I spent too much time when I was growing up wishing I was more like everyone else. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized the parts of me that are different or seem complicated are what make me good at my job, make me a better friend, and make my story worth sharing. The parts of you that don’t seem neat and tidy really make you interesting, relatable, and valuable. It’s important not to resent or hide our own stories but to celebrate and share them!
Our theme for July is creative confidence! How do you incorporate creative confidence with your spark?
I love asking questions and challenging the status quo. There have been many moments when I dream up a new way of doing an assignment at work and am met by a hesitant boss who says, “but that’s not the way we’ve always done it!” After mustering the bravery to try out my idea, I’m always proud of myself for choosing innovation over comfort. The people who were initially unsure if we should branch out are usually excited by the outcome!
Gina prepping the stage for L.A. county supervisor Kathryn Barger's annual State of the County address in Santa Clarita, CA. Kathryn gave a speech written by Gina!
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