A community of optimists hosted by Melinda French Gates

Amanda Hirsch is on a mission to fill the world with women’s stories. She launched her women’s storytelling company Mighty Forces in the wake of the 2016 election, after a career shaping content strategies for nonprofits including the George Lucas Educational Foundation, TED, and NPR. She is the former editorial director of PBS.org, where she helped documentary filmmakers translate their stories to the web. Amanda is also a writer and author with a background in improv comedy, an art form she considers a template for life.

The stories we tell matter—they shape our world and the ways we move within it. Amanda started Mighty Forces fueled by the belief that depicting women and their power in more authentic ways can create a more feminist culture. She believes that we need more women leaders in this world, and to get there, we need more authentic stories about women who are already leading—not just in boardrooms and government but also in every area of life.

Through Mighty Forces, Amanda helps women leaders and organizations that support women to tell their stories in impactful ways. She partners closely with clients to distill the core story of who they are and why they do what they do. She then helps them imagine and create content that tells those stories in compelling ways, and designs strategies for creating an online presence that gets their stories into the world. Her clients include Melinda Gates's Pivotal Ventures and Malala Fund, as well as dozens of individual women leaders across industries and age brackets, from Sundance board chair and TEDWomen host Pat Mitchell to women who are just starting out.

As a writer, Amanda hopes to inspire more women to tell their stories, and to infuse popular culture with stories about women finding the courage to be who they really are. Her original TV pilot script, "Yes, Andrea," was selected as a finalist in the 2020 Sundance Episodic Lab. Amanda is the author of Feeling My Way: Finding Motherhood Without Losing Myself, and her essays and articles have been published in a range of outlets, from Catapult to McSweeney’s. Amanda also blogged for many years about the ways in which stereotypical depictions of “having it all” fail to account for the true diversity of what real women want.

Amanda has taught online storytelling at Harvard's Kennedy School, the National Press Club, the National Film Board of Canada, and other venues. She was also named an audience favorite for a talk she gave with her husband, Jordan, at SXSW, about applying the concepts of improv to being a freelancer.

Amanda lives in Brooklyn, NY with Jordan and their daughter, Ali.


What inspires you to do the work you do?

A mix of anger, vision, and love: Anger at how women and girls are violated and boxed in all over this world; a vision of a world filled with women leaders, and of a world that recognizes and honors leadership beyond the boardroom and government (for example, the kinds of leadership we see every day from mothers and activists); and love — for my daughter, and everyone’s daughters, and the power that is uniquely theirs to express.

Tell us about someone you admire.

I admire Amy Poehler for so many reasons, including the fact that she co-founded Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, a media outlet that invites girls to change the world by being themselves (I wish more grown women believed in authenticity as their source of power). I once had the good fortune to see Amy perform an improv show. I’ve never seen anyone else, in any field, exhibit genius while simultaneously making every single person around them look like a genius, too.

Please share a favorite quote.

“some people when they hear your story. contract. others upon hearing your story. expand. and that is how you know.” Nayyirah Waheed.