Naming Our Logo

Empower Engine’s Owl Logo

Empower Engine’s Owl Logo

Most people get names at the start of their lives, but that was not the case for Empower Engine’s owl logo. The owl is the symbol of Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, and we identify with the stereotype of the wise old owl. Its big eyes fit our focus on data visualization. The primary colors in our logo are blue, because we are proudly partisan, and that color is associated with the Democratic Party in the US. All of those were true when we designed our owl. But for years, our logo was nameless.

Representative Elaine Noble, Gay Pride Rally, Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts, June 13, 1977. Photo by Stan Grossfeld

Representative Elaine Noble, Gay Pride Rally, Boston Common, Boston, Massachusetts, June 13, 1977. Photo by Stan Grossfeld

In 2019, we decided our owl deserved a name. We wanted a name starting with the letter E to match our company’s name. We also wanted to recognize an unsung political hero. Rep. Elaine Noble was the perfect fit, so we’re reintroducing our logo as Elaine the Owl.

Elaine Noble was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1974 and served two terms. She was the first openly gay state-level elected official. The first openly gay elected official in the country, city councilor Kathy Kozachenko, was elected only a few months before her. Harvey Milk was elected during Elaine Noble’s second term.

Elaine Noble did not run for a third term, because redistricting meant that she would have had to run against Barney Frank (who wasn’t yet out). Her pioneering time in office was also very scary from a personal standpoint, so she had good reason to step out of the public eye. During her tenure, a Boston teenager pointed a gun at her, a constituent spit on her, and someone else left feces on her desk. The stress of her political career ended her relationship with the novelist Rita May Brown.

In addition to being a political lesbian pioneer, Elaine Noble actively opposed segregation. In the 1970s, Boston had many protests, some of them violent riots, over forced bussing for school integration. Elaine Noble was the only white legislator to ride the buses with POC students.

A writer for Boston’s gay newspaper told Noble at the time “you should stick to your own kind or we’re going to get someone else to represent us.” “Well, I believe I am sticking to my own kind,” Noble responded, clearly communicating that she’d continue her work for everyone facing discrimination.

Elaine Noble is a great fit for Empower Engine’s diverse team. We’re lead by Julie Goldberg, an out lesbian who grew up a few miles from Noble’s district. Our other team members, Ejike Obineme and Inocencio Chavez, are both people of color who grew up attending integrated public schools in Baltimore and rural Alabama respectively.

For more information on Elaine Noble, we recommend this Medium Piece

There was also a short documentary about her made in the 70s that’s available on Youtube.
Elaine Noble should be more famous than she is. We at Empower Engine want to do what we can about this, so we are naming our logo for her. Please welcome Elaine the Owl to our team.

Julie Goldberg