Richards is in her last year as the head of the women’s health organization Planned Parenthood, and she’s brought it back to its movement roots. Throughout her career, in fact, she’s never shied away from defending causes she believes in, regardless of the opposition’s power or aggression. She told us her model has always been her late mother, former Texas governor Ann Richards.
“She spent a lot of years just doing what society expected her,” Richards told us. “She was just to raise kids, be a perfect wife, throw the perfect dinner party, and she did that for several years. And it wasn’t until she had the chance to break out and do what she wanted to do for her — I think she was always regretful that she, you know, missed some time. You know, she let social convention get in the way.
“So her best advice was, ‘This is the only life you have, so do it.’ And whatever it is, never turn down a new opportunity. And, you know, she used to say when I was worried about taking a new job — or to other women who would say, ‘You know, I’m not sure if I’m qualified’ — she said, ‘Look. What’s the worst thing that could happen?” And I think that’s really good advice when you’re thinking about starting a new business or changing jobs. It’s just, ‘what’s the worst thing that can happen,’ because usually, once you can imagine that, it’s not that bad.”