Our award-winning podcast series, “100 Years of Power.” (Photo credit: Wikipedia and Mobilus In Mobili, Flickr)

It’s been hard to find the good things to cling to this year, we know. 

Below is our round-up of stories — all picked by The Story Exchange staff — that we hope provided some inspiration and useful information amid a grueling election cycle and a global pandemic.

As we do at the end of each year, we wish you tidings of comfort and joy, health and happiness, and peace and prosperity in the New Year. But this year, we’ll add one more sentiment: May your 2021 be better than your 2020. 

1. 100 Years of Power (Special Mention: Part 3)

Amidst such a tough and tumultuous election cycle (to say the least), it was cathartic to work on “100 Years of Power,” our award-winning podcast series marking the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Thanks to all the brilliant women who offered their voices and knowledge, we hope listeners were able to gain new insight into the complicated history of women’s rights in the U.S.

2. “Meet the Fashion ‘Trash Nerd’ Who’s Won Money and Love from Vogue

Let’s face it — this year belongs in the trash. But you know what doesn’t? All the fabric scraps and yards of textile waste discarded by the fashion industry each year. That’s why we enjoyed profiling Jessica Schreiber of New York City, a former Department of Sanitation employee who left to launch her own fashion recycling startup, Fabscrap. In the story and accompanying video, Schreiber also exemplifies the resilience female entrepreneurs have shown in the face of a global pandemic.

3. Our “Her Perspective” Series on Black Women Entrepreneurs

This group of founders faces numerous hurdles when it comes to funding and marketing their businesses, yet they still continue to aspire and inspire. In a year where Black women are quietly flexing power — think of how many voted or helped others vote for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, for example — the series is a reminder that much work remains in knocking down barriers for this critical bloc of our economy and society.

4. “Confirmed: Introverts Will Miss This Time

This was written when lockdowns and quarantines were still fairly new, but we think the gist of this story — that introverts can excel in a socially distanced world — still holds. 

5. “Is Love Pandemic-Proof? These Matchmakers Say Yes

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love…” And these entrepreneurs are here to assist. We loved this smart piece about matchmakers who are helping folks continue to make romantic connections amid the pandemic. And like every other type of venture, the owners of these businesses had to get creative to stay afloat — it was fascinating to see how they’re pulling it off.

6. “She’s Making Seasonal Farm-to-Table Sauces, One Bottle At a Time

We figured, why not plug a 1,000+ Stories profile? After all, scores of women share their startup tales with us. Among them was Sarah Marshall of Marshall’s Haute Sauce. We loved the story behind her venture — and the sauces look pretty damn good to boot.

7. Our Series on Down-Ballot Women Candidates

In a history-making year for women in the upper echelon of federal government, it was also heartening to see how many diverse, interesting women are running at every level of government. Our five-part series featured female candidates who might not get the most media attention, but who have the chance to make big differences in many people’s lives all the same.

8. “Her Startup Aims to Make Water Safer and Cleaner

Not all of us knew much about water supply or analytics before we profiled Meena Sankaran. It might not seem like the sexiest, most exciting job in the world, but it was fascinating for us to see how she develops her machinery and is working toward her goal of making clean water more easily available to everyone.

9. “Amid Pandemic Hunger Crisis, Entrepreneurial Women Work to Combat Food Insecurity

The Story Exchange has, for a long time, focused on women entrepreneurs who are doing good on the ground. This recent, well-written piece is a continuation of that aim. It dives into the grassroots efforts undertaken by enterprising women to combat food insecurity — already a widespread problem in the United States that was significantly worsened by the pandemic.

10. Podcast: “Changing Immigrant’s Lives Through Food

Another food-centric staff-favorite was this podcast episode about Paty Funegra and her journey to start La Cocina VA, an organization that helps Latino immigrants find jobs in the food industry by teaching them food and language skills. Funegra, who lives in Washington, D.C., had a successful career in international development yet felt disconnected from the lives of Latinos living in her city. Hers is an inspiring story about making a difference on a personal, local level.

11. USPS Woes Put Women Entrepreneurs on Shaky Ground

This selection was less about the article itself — though it’s a solid offering — and more about what it represents. Throughout 2020, The Story Exchange team has endeavored to find creative, thoughtful ways to keep its coverage fresh, timely and relevant to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. And, it has done so while keeping its core audience — women business owners — at the heart of its work.