- This article originally appeared in the February 2024 relationship issue of COMO Magazine.
Ticket sales help promote local maternal health initiatives.
The stage is set for Columbia’s second “That’s What She Said” event featuring ten women from the community taking the stage to share their stories of success, joy, hardship, and overcoming barriers.
“That’s What She Said” Columbia, presented by Stephens College, takes place from 7-9 p.m. Saturday, April 13, at the Missouri Theatre, 203 S. Ninth St.
“This is an evening for the entire community to come together and celebrate the contributions of women here in Columbia,” says show producer and director Allie Teagarden. “And you don’t have to be a woman to attend. All are welcome.”
Last year’s show supported True North, a domestic and sexual violence victim service program. For the 2024 show, twenty-five percent of ticket sales revenue will go to support maternal health initiatives in Columbia, providing financial and educational support to low-income women receiving prenatal and postpartum care at Booth Health and MU Health Care.
“The maternal and infant health crisis in the U.S. is something I’ve been tracking for several years now,” Teagarden says. “Our concern is that health outcomes for those have been on the decline for many years. The U.S. ranks pretty low for infant and maternal health outcomes. In Missouri, the crisis is further exacerbated.”
She cites “significant racial disparities” in maternal care and infant mortality, especially among Black women and infants.
“We have a concrete opportunity to raise funds for these causes that are really significant,” Teagarden adds.
This year’s speakers are Adonica Coleman, Augusta Cooper, Erica Dickson, Ranjana Hans, Elizabeth Herrera, Ellery Miller, Rebecca Miller, Jean Plumley, Stacie Pottinger, and Vicky Riback Wilson. Teagarden says the lineup showcases women with a wide range of life experience, personal stories, professional paths, ethnicity and culture, and age and diverse backgrounds. Each speaker will have seven minutes to share a story from life that may be funny, about overcoming challenges, or “a combination of emotions that all of us go through in life,” she explains. “They are personal, intimate stories.”
Speakers are selected with the goal that each person attending can personally relate with at least one speaker’s story.
“On the other end of the spectrum, folks have a chance to hear a unique perspective, to open their eyes to someone else’s experience, to develop empathy,” Teagarden adds. “I think it just makes our community stronger if we can at least come to a general understanding of others who have different life experiences or viewpoints.”
Teagarden agreed that empathy seems in short supply, especially in post-COVID society. The voices gathered for “That’s What She Said” are crucial for “being able to come together and move forward in a positive way as a community,” she says.
The She Said Project was founded in 2013 by three women in the Champaign-Urbana, Illinois area. “That’s What She Said” performances began there and have since spread to other Midwest cities, inspiring audiences through the stories of women. Teagarden said the founders were brainstorming ways to be sure their daughters were raised in a supportive community, and to combat what they saw as “women’s voices not being empowered in public ways.”
The idea was to gather a group of local women and hand them a microphone, Teagarden says. “They thought it would be a one-time thing.”
For those who are not familiar with the event, she describes it like this: “The show itself is a cross between a TED talk and the ‘Vagina Monologues’.”
For those familiar with the phrase “That’s What She Said” — a favorite but degrading comment of Michael Scott, the awkward boss on the sitcom “The Office” — Teagarden says the event uses that phrase for good.
“There is great power in hearing other peoples’ stories,” she adds, noting an unexpected experience after the 2023 inaugural event in Columbia. Teagarden heard from someone who had attended and “was going through some challenging times, and was just extremely encouraged by attending the show … That real personal impact that speakers have on our audience, even months later, was really moving.”
The speakers for the 2024 event are business owners, part of Columbia’s thriving music scene, and women working in education and advocacy in the non-profit sector.
“These are women that are making an impact in their day to day lives, among professionals, families, their circle of friends — the community at large,” she says.
Teagarden’s backstory includes eleven years in higher education, a career where she expected to be “stuck for the long haul” before facing a culmination of life changes. One of those moments happened gradually, as a “shift” that countless others encountered during COVID.
“It made a lot of folks evaluate what they wanted to be doing,” she explains. “I transitioned out of higher ed and was looking to be more engaged with the community as a whole,” then moved to Columbia in 2019 and was already familiar with “That’s What She Said.”
“The timing was just really perfect,” she says. “Certainly the mission of lifting women’s voices was a really easy sell for me. I’m also the mom of a daughter, so that’s certainly a motivating factor for me in doing this work.”
Getting the business community and local women on board for the event has also been rewarding.
“The business community in Columbia has been incredibly supportive since the beginning to make this a reality, to ensure the show can continue,” Teagarden notes. “I’m proud of the folks who have rallied behind this mission.”
Tickets for the event are $40 and include a complimentary wine, beer, cider, or mocktail along with a sweet treat. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7 p.m.