It’s been over a month since my last post. Maintaining this blog has often been on my mind but I’ve simply not had the time or brainpower to write. However, I have come up with a list of ideas to write about which should help me post more frequently (fingers are crossed people). Since my last post at the end of January, I spent all of February focused on the 2nd World Conference of Women’s Shelters, hosted by the Global Network of Women’s Shelters and the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Thankfully I was able to take some time in early March to recuperate and recharge.
Here I am, ready to work the conference. I look a little bug-eyed in this pic because that’s how I felt, as if someone was about to let the gate open – LOL. A huge part of my role was to communicate with and organize over 220 presenters in the final months leading up to this international conference, which was attended by about 1,500 delegates from 96 countries across the globe. While the conference itself was spectacular – there was an impromptu, recorded visit by former President Bill Clinton (as well as visits by the Crown Princess of Denmark, Valerie Jarrett – Senior Advisor to President Obama, Reese Witherspoon, Congresswoman Donna Edwards), there were primarily three rewarding parts of the conference experience for me.
First, it was amazing to finally meet so many of the advocates that I’d been in touch with for months. Advocates that I’d stayed up late emailing with back and forth, answering questions and trying to provide adequate information despite language and time zone differences. It was great to put a face to a name/email address and to get a chance to hug those who had traveled so far to share their knowledge, passion and expertise with others. It was also great to see that while fashion is different across the world, many of us sported very similar practical, trendy, and eye-catching outfits. We all wanted to look our best but be comfortable and confident in the process. Here are a few pics of friends from Ecuador, Sudan, and Argentina.
Another rewarding part of the experience was seeing the panel that I’d help organize come together. Over the past few years, I’ve increasingly become more interested in disaster response and preparedness as it relates to women and young girls. I helped organize a workshop entitled, Gender Informed Disaster Planning & Response. Each of the presenters were well-informed, engaging speakers and the workshop was a success. I myself learned more about disaster recovery and was happy to participate in bringing these people together. As a result of this partnership and a mutually respectful collaborative process, I look forward to working with this group again.
Lastly, working alongside my colleagues from the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Casa de Esperanza, the National Network to End Domestic Violence and being able to spend time with sister advocates from many other national organizations and countries was priceless. Experiencing shared success amongst colleagues I admire feels so empowering and rejuvenating. It makes the long, hard hours worth it. Most importantly, being a part of the group process continues to teach me valuable lessons about myself as a professional, leader, and as a woman doing work on behalf of women and girls everywhere. I simply pray that I am humble enough to receive the teachings.