Several months ago; I received an invitation to attend a workshop about the OpEd Project hosted by the Embrey and Boone Foundations; and Texas Women’s University.
I knew Cecilia Boone for many years; our daughters were classmates in the same school and later on I again crossed paths with her at the Dallas Women’s Foundation. Throughout the years I respected her leadership and down to earth compassion and determination.
I had first heard Lauren Embrey several years ago when she was the key note speaker at MOSAICS Family Services; and I was really inspired by her speech; and by her establishment of the Human Rights Institute at southern Methodist University. All these ladies and their organizations are definitely exceptional leaders who are setting in motion huge forces for systemic change.
Just reading that the OpEd was sponsored by the Boone and Embrey Foundation made me very eager to learn more about it.
Katie Ornstein made the initial presentation. She covered the basics of a successful OpEd; and discussed how impactful it is to share your opinion with thousands of readers; and gaining momentum behind the ideas you are sharing or the causes you are championing.
The attendees in the workshop were academicians and leaders of nonprofit organizations in the Dallas Fort worth metroplex.
When Katie asked each one of us was to share with their neighbor ‘-what do you think you are an expert on and why’; and we needed to answer this in a couple of sentences, Lauren stated ” I have made a strategic decision that our foundation will only fund organizations or efforts that are leading to systemic changes in society!” That statement was very crucial, and made me so happy; I realized that what I have been sensing since Sept 11; that women are coming together from all walks of life, and all careers and all issues; determined to support each other and network each other so that their combined effort will effect change.
During that first meeting; Katie eloquently showed the power of written word when it is shared by millions of readers. She emphasized that sadly; however, not many women write OpEd and get published and therefore their ability to shape public opinion has been extremely limited.
Hearing the various participants present their expertise; and present the different causes and missions they were championing made me realize that within this group we already have a powerhouse of leaders. I felt that their causes were not limited to just here locally in the metroplex; but actually its ramifications would encompass the nation as a whole; if they have the podium to project from; and this is what the OpEd project promised.
Now- after only two convenings in June and September- already that promise is coming true. Already twenty four participants have published OpEds coverings topics as varied as Education, Immigration, Drug Addiction, Child molestation, Domestic violence; Climate Change; Animal rights; Sex Trafficking. These OpEds were published in The Guardian, Huffington Post College: Impact, Religion, Crime; The Dallas Morning News and Aljazeera.
On Monday June 24 2012 –one week after the OpEd first Convening, Katie Pedigo wrote an OpEd in the DMN titled: ‘Trafficking Victims Protection Act deserves passage’. On Thursday, June 28, 2012, Katie Ornstein sent the following email:” Folks, when we talk about writing to change the world, this is exactly what we mean! ”Congratulations! After Monday’s OpEd, the fight against human trafficking took a huge step in becoming a priority for the U.S. Congress. Wednesday, Texas Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison became a co-sponsor of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA)!!!
And hopefully this is only the beginning; I would like to thank the visionary journalists: Katie Orenstein, Rose Aguilar and Chloe Angyal, TWU, The Boone Family Foundation and the Embrey Family Foundation for giving me the opportunity to join.
Hind Jarrah, Ph D is the Executive director of Texas Muslim Women’s Foundation, a non-profit organization established in 2005 to empower, promote, and support women and families. Born in Beirut to Palestinian parents, Dr. Jarrah has been engaged in the promotion of understanding and respect for multicultural diversity for three decades. She has organized and participated in interfaith dialogue presentations and panel discussions in schools, colleges, churches, civic organizations and international societies. The organization is the first of its kind in North Texas to give Muslim women a strong voice and address their needs; TMWF is a multi-faceted organization providing programs in education, interfaith dialogue and outreach, philanthropy and social services.