Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Spotify has only spent 10% of a promised pledge to diverse creators, Maven makes an acquisition, and FDNY’s first female chief navigates the ups and downs of her history-making appointment.
– On fire. New York City has still never had a female mayor, but the city of 8.5 million does have women in charge of some of its biggest agencies.
In December 2021, Keechant L. Sewell was named commissioner of the New York Police Department. In April 2022, Jessica Tisch became sanitation commissioner. Then in November, Laura Kavanagh joined them when Mayor Eric Adams named her commissioner of the Fire Department of New York.
Sewell and Kavanagh are both the first women in their respective roles. (Tisch is the first sanitation commissioner to go viral on TikTok when she said in a speech last year that “the rats don’t run this city; we do.”)
Being the first isn’t easy, especially in such male-dominated organizations. The fire workforce is 99% male. (FDNY also includes the EMS workforce, which is not quite as male-dominated.) Kavanagh joined the department as a civilian executive in 2014 but has never worked as a firefighter. She previously worked on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign. At 40, she’s also the youngest commissioner in FDNY’s history.
“Being the only woman can, at times, be—I don’t want to call it intimidating, because I’m not intimidated by it,” Kavanagh says. “But it’s definitely something to get used to. You’re always going to stand out.”
Since stepping into the role of FDNY commissioner on a permanent basis, she’s worked to build a more diverse team. But it hasn’t been easy; last month, four chiefs claiming they were unfairly demoted filed a lawsuit against the department and against Kavanagh. Kavanagh has denied the claim and said she is putting together a new team as is typical for a new commissioner.
The lawsuit took aim at what the chiefs see as Kavanagh’s lack of on-the-ground experience. “We have thousands of people who are extraordinarily talented at responding to fires and medical emergencies,” she said in an interview before the suit was filed. “They don’t need me to do that. I’m here to advocate for policies, for laws, for resources for the department.”
Kavanagh says she won’t back down from new and difficult environments—including those resistant to change. “I’ve always landed in new places where I didn’t fit,” she says. Working alongside other women in leadership positions at male-dominated city organizations has helped during this particular transition; she and Sewell have supported each other through handling line-of-duty deaths in the FDNY and NYPD. “I really lean on those women for guidance, advice, and support,” she says.
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ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
- Across the pond. Maven, the fertility and women's health benefits unicorn founded by Kate Ryder, acquired Naytal, a British digital health company, as it eyes expansion in the U.K. Naytal was founded by Leila Thabet. The companies didn't disclose the value of the acquisition. Fierce Healthcare
- Vice for sale. Vice Media is scrambling for a buyer, considering options including bankruptcy. CEO Nancy Dubuc exited last month; her mission at the company had been, partly, to find a buyer before large dividend payments were owed to TPG beginning in 2020. Insider
- Minimum spend. Spotify announced the $100 million Spotify Creator Equity Fund last year, meant to promote diversity in music and podcasting; the company announced the fund after a controversy over comments made by Joe Rogan on his Spotify podcast. But the fund has spent less than 10% of that money so far. Bloomberg
- Economic predictors. British economist Ann Pettifor predicted the 2008 financial crisis. Now she says that central banks prefer "class war over financial stability." Her new analysis criticizes institutions ranging from Silicon Valley Bank to Credit Suisse and the European Central Bank. Fortune
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: EnterpriseDB promoted Leslie O'Neil to CHRO. SaaS security company DoControl hired Christine Castro as VP of marketing. The Ironman Group promoted Marieka Barnard to CMO. Generate Biomedicines named Beth Grous chief people officer.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
- Climate casualty. A rural Idaho hospital, Bonner General Health, shut down its obstetrics ward, citing a decreased number of deliveries and physician shortages. But the health care facility also mentioned the "legal and political climate;" Idaho now bans nearly all forms of abortion. Washington Post
- Game on. This year's women's basketball NCAA tournament has so far featured more upsets than usual. Often, top-seeded teams are the ones to make it to the Sweet 16. The unpredictability is a good sign for the growth of the women's game. Wall Street Journal
- Tough cookie. Raspberry Rally Girl Scout cookies are this year's new flavor. The cookie is an online exclusive, a sales tactic meant to teach Girl Scouts about e-commerce. But the cookies' lack of in-person availability has turned them into a hot commodity, listed for as much as $200 on resale sites. Los Angeles Times
ON MY RADAR
There's a new crisis in Texas after the abortion ban. It could get much worse Slate
Vermeer's daughter The Atlantic
Being quirky helped comedian Diane Morgan land Cunk on Earth Wall Street Journal
"I don’t want to be limited. I want to spread my wings and fly."
—Gisele Bündchen, in a Vanity Fair cover story
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