In the last decades of her life, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, small in stature, even a bit shy, became more than a role model to feminists and people fighting for justice. The Supreme Court Justice became a role model to our nation at a time when we desperately needed positive examples of leadership. The more tumultuous the time, the more we needed her steady presence.

In October 2019, less than a year before she died, she and I were talking in her chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court about why female role models are important to people of all ages, especially young adults. The humanity and bravery of women, she said, had sustained and encouraged her when her spirits needed lifting.

Justice Ginsburg said that in her youth she had longed for more women role models but there was little information available about them. This led to our intergenerational book, RBG’s Brave and Brilliant Women: 33 Jewish Women to Inspire Everyone (Random House), about some of the many amazing women from the past whose stories had inspired her. She wanted to pass the stories of these women onto future generations

Of course, Justice Ginsburg wasn’t only interested in Jewish women as role models. There were other women—and men—she admired as well and in fact, she was passionate about the whole idea of role models. She and I agreed that it is critical to teach young people to identify and select people who have traits they admire and who they can learn from. After all, finding and selecting role models is part of developing emotional intelligence.  

Her death on September 18, 2020 shook the nation. After completing the book, I decided that I wanted to remember her by creating The Role Model Project. It begins with the story of Justice Ginsburg, one of my personal role models: She was an inspirational woman who fought to overcome gender discrimination in her own life to change the laws of the United States to make them fairer for all genders. But the project encompasses role models past and present from all genders, fields and backgrounds. Its intent is to plant seeds of inspiration for youth at a pivotal moment in their growth as they begin to consider their future.

Inspired by the experiences and the legacy of the Justice, The Role Model Project will have several components including a website and virtual and live workshops and programs for children. A special focus will be marginalized children such as those whose parents face economic hardship or are incarcerated or struggling with domestic violence. 

More details will be announced soon.

—Nadine Epstein, Editor-in-Chief & CEO