Meet Jane Honikman: Nonprofit Visionary and MentorOctober 12, 2011
Community is reinforced daily as a driving force for change. The significance of community and a network of women is the foundation of AAUW’s mission to advance equity for women and girls. Jane Honikman —a nonprofit founder, ambassador, and daughter of an AAUW member — says community was the launching point for her career because of her experiences as a mentor, activist, AAUW member, and mother. Her inspiration in the field of maternal mental health arose from her own poignant story of postnatal trauma, which she has detailed in personal journal articles on her website, where she pledged to support other women who were going through trauma after childbirth.
As a member of AAUW, Honikman found an inner circle of women with whom she could share the joys and difficulties of motherhood. In this community, she took the first steps at fulfilling her vow by launching a community-based parent support program called Postpartum Education for Parents. The group was funded in part by a grant from the AAUW Goleta Valley (CA) Branch in 1977. Honikman describes PEP as “an idea born from our own experiences and needs.”
But her story of activism and courage goes beyond PEP. She also founded Postpartum Support International with the support of a 1981–82 Community Action Grant from AAUW. PSI aims to promote awareness, prevention, and treatment of mental health issues globally. Today, Honikman serves as an ambassador for PSI, connecting to other nonprofits, traveling, speaking, and inspiring others. In PSI, you can see the skeleton of the network she had with AAUW, a concept that she expanded into an organization that has members all over the world, with volunteers in more than 36 countries and in every one of the United States.
Through her work as an activist and ambassador, Honikman has kept her value of community, which she attributes to her membership in AAUW. It was through communities that she found a mentor. She found inspiration, support, and courage in him. He dared to go against traditional medical review and insist that there was a field for women of childbearing age in the study of mental illness. Honikman herself is now dedicated to mentorship and is a self-proclaimed “yenta as a mentor,” connecting people across the country. She even says that before Facebook, there was Jane. She describes mentorship as another form of motherhood — she found that her roles were one in the same.
Today, Honikman strives to expand the community she has created. Her goal is to connect PSI to other nonprofit organizations, ranging from the International Childbirth Education Association to CARE. She is an active member in CARE, serving as the voice of maternal mental health in their advocacy. You’ll find deep inspiration in any discussion with Honikman or exploration of her website. She advises us to “get involved in a field that can change the future of mankind, humankind, womenkind.”
This post was written by AAUW Fellowships and Grants Intern Elyssa Shildneck.