Rita Bosworth: Founder & Executive Director, the Sister District Project

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Rita Bosworth is the Founder and Executive Director of the Sister District Project, a grassroots activist organization focused on increasing civic engagement and restoring fairness to democracy. Rita started Sister District a week after the 2016 presidential election. Since then, it has grown to be a nationally recognized organization with 25,000 volunteers across the country who are committed to making sure everyone has fair representation in government. In 2017, Sister District was instrumental in helping the Democrats make gains in the Washington and Virginia state legislatures. Prior to Sister District, Rita was a Federal Public Defender for 12 years. She received her undergraduate degree from U.C. Davis, where she was also varsity captain of the rowing team, and she received her law degree from Stanford. After law school she clerked for the Honorable Henry Kennedy in Washington, D.C. She lives in San Jose, CA, with her husband and two sons.

What do I do best?

I’m strategic. I am always thinking ahead to how every potential fact pattern might play out to make sure I’m charting the best course. And I always keep my eye on the ball—I don’t get distracted by shiny objects. I focus on the goal and then I figure out how to get there.

What makes me the best version of myself?

I am guided by a very strong sense of fairness and equality for all people, regardless of background or social status. This helps me find a clear path forward when there are difficult decisions to make. I find that doing what is right rather than doing what is easy is always the better option, and leading by example inspires others to do the same.

What are my aspirations?

I want to find happiness like everyone else. I want to savor every moment with my children, who are growing up way too fast, I want to spend relaxing weekends with my family and friends, I want to see as much of this amazing planet as I can and learn everything there is to know from its history and all its people. But I will never be truly happy until the injustices that we see in the world are fixed. Sometimes it is overwhelming to see all the pain, suffering, and inequality, particularly when there is so much that could be improved immediately if we could put politics aside. So, I know that part of my life will always be dedicated to helping people and working to solve our problems. The most meaningful contribution we all can make in our lives is to understand that we are global citizens; we are part of an ecosystem larger than ourselves, and that we all must do our part to help people and communities that are suffering.

My Biggest Success?

My biggest success is trusting myself. We have all faced difficult decisions that we know will alter our lives in one direction or another. These moments can be stressful, and it can be hard to know what you really want. When I have a big decision to make, I try to block everything out and understand what my heart is telling me, even if it is contrary to what those around me are telling me. Being my authentic self and trusting myself, which often means going against the grain, makes me who I am and has led me here today.

My Most Challenging Moment?

When I made the decision to leave my comfortable and successful career as a public defender to run the Sister District Project full time, I felt in many ways like I was walking blindfolded off a cliff. I am a fairly risk-averse person, and I never dreamed that I would leave the security of my job to try my hand in the start-up world. I also never considered myself an entrepreneur. And yet, there I was, having created an organization from nothing, almost by accident, and taking the leap to try to make it work. It was, and still is, scary. But it has also shown me that I can rise to the challenge, and that it’s ok to take chances. Sometimes that is what allows us to stretch ourselves beyond what we imagined possible.

My Motto?

One of my favorite sayings (paraphrased) is: “Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

My Favorite People/Role Models?

People who do the right thing even when they could have used their position to enrich themselves, people who dedicate their lives to fighting injustice, and women who are tireless and trailblazing feminists. Some people I admire are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Francis Perkins, Madeline Albright, Ellen Degeneres, Nelson Mandela, Barack Obama, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

My Favorite Places/Destinations?

The California Coast.

My Favorite Products/Objects?

Nice soap, new yoga clothes (they motivate me to work out), my laptop, and sunglasses.

My Current Passions?

I have twin 3-year old boys, so most of the hobbies I had before kids are on hiatus. I love spending time with the boys and experiencing life through their eyes. Sometimes I get really excited over the things we will get to do together as they get older, like read Harry Potter and travel. I’ve also taken up gardening, and my husband and I like to cook new recipes with the vegetables we grow. One day I hope to write a book.