The Advocate profiled “Five Fierce Females” in 2019. Two of them provided advice on how they’ve coped with the coronavirus pandemic and what they would tell their younger selves when they graduated from high school. 

Photography by Danny Fulgencio

EVE WILEY found out that a fertility doctor inseminated her mother with his own sperm rather than the sperm of the donor her mother selected. She thought the act should be a crime, so she set about visiting Austin every week to press for legislation that makes it a sexual assault offense if a health care provider implants human sperm, eggs or embryos from an unauthorized donor. 

What are you doing now? 

I’m still working on fertility fraud legislation in other states. Before COVID-19, Colorado, Florida, Ohio, Nebraska and Pennsylvania were in various stages of passing a fertility fraud bill before sessions were placed on hold. I’m also spending a lot of time connecting with people who reach out to me with their NPE (Not Parent Expected) results stories and helping them find a biological parent or cope with their new genetic identity.

How are you coping during the pandemic? 

The past two years have been full of life-changing events. We lost our home in a tornado, had a baby in the middle of a pandemic and adjusted to a new normal. To cope, I’ve been practicing a lot of patience and grace with myself and my family. We have done a lot of managing of expectations, not giving into the pressure of getting everything done all of the time, slowing down and centering our days around enjoying one another. We have talked a lot to our small children about how this is a hard thing, and we have done hard things before.

If you could go back in time to your high school graduation, what advice would you have for yourself?

You’re not a failure if you don’t know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Be patient with yourself, and get experience to figure things out. Always be coachable, and always keep learning.

SHONN EVANS BROWN is vice president and deputy council for litigation, regulatory and preventive law at Kimberly-Clark. Her husband is a lawyer, and she is the mother of a boy and two girls. 

What’s your schedule these days?

On a typical day, I wake up with exactly 30 minutes to spare before my first virtual call. I usually start between 7 and 8 a.m. each day. By 8 a.m. I start yelling through the house with the phone on mute to ensure that our children are awake and ready for their distance learning programs. Some require multiple wakeups. If there was a camera in my house observing how I shift between professional person and screaming mom, it might make for good reality TV. I am usually on calls back to back until around 6 or 7 p.m. I do take some time to walk up and down my street — sometimes on calls.

How do you deal with stress?

When I can break free, I go for a run. Then there’s family time, dinner and binge television. Things I have given up: makeup, clothes that have buttons and zippers and high heels. I miss my shoes.

How are you coping during the pandemic? Running. I try to get outside each day, even if it’s for a walk. Television. I’m also uncharacteristically allowing myself to binge watch many shows to decompress. Walking the dogs.

Cooking. I have taken great pleasure in learning some new recipes and being creative with leftovers. Staying connected. I have connected with so many friends via virtual meetings.

If you could go back in time to your high school graduation, what advice would you give yourself?

Have more fun. I was so focused on the next goal that I moved at a rapid pace with tunnel vision. Don’t focus so much on the destination, but enjoy the journey. Push yourself out of your comfort zone to accelerate your growth in mind and spirit.

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