ADVOCACY

Universal Crossword Women's March
As editor of the Universal Crossword, I created and implemented the only mainstream initiative to publish an entire month of crosswords solely by women—the Universal Crossword Women's March, which began on March 1, 2020.  The idea for a month of puzzles by women to honor Women's History Month was originally suggested to me by constructor Rebecca Falcon, and I was thrilled to make it a reality.  The percentage of submissions I typically receive from women is relatively small, but after many hours of reaching out to individual female constructors, spreading the word on social media and elsewhere, prioritizing my response to women's submissions, and mentoring first-timers, I succeeded in filling every publication slot in March—31 daily 15x15 puzzles and 5 Sunday 21x21 puzzles—with crosswords by female constructors.  This outreach effort was so successful that the Women's March actually extended into the first four days of April for daily 15x15 puzzles and the first Sunday of April for the 21x21 puzzle.  A total of 46 different women were published (since some puzzles were co-constructions), and I am delighted to be continuing to publish work by many of these talented female constructors.

Universal Crossword Equal Representation Project
In January of 2019, I created the Universal Crossword Equal Representation Project (UCERP), the first mainstream initiative designed to increase the representation of women, persons of color, and members of the LGBT+ community.  UCERP paired seven underrepresented would-be constructors with established constructing mentors, guaranteeing publication of the co-constructed puzzles in the Universal Crossword feature.  To increase motivation, I gave each pair a deadline.  The project was well received, with more than 60 new constructors expressing interest in participating, and most of the seven mentees have gone on to publish additional crosswords.