Women’s Foundation inspires locals
“When you embolden women to change their families, they change their town, their state. When you change the state, it changes the country. When you change the country, it changes the world.”
Thus was the message from Swanee Hunt, who spoke recently at the annual Women’s Foundation of Colorado’s event – “Gender Matters” – at the Vilar Center.
Hunt is the director of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. She spent four years as the American ambassador to Austria, and has traveled the world – particularly where women’s rights are in danger – as an advocate and advisor.
“Don’t be fooled by her dimples and curly hair,” said longtime friend Michelle Hovey. “She looks like Shirley Temple all grown up!”
The petite, spunky Hunt wields a mighty powerful punch, the audience learned, as Hunt wove tales from her experience in Austria, Rwanda, Bosnia and Washington, D.C.
“Colorado is one of only six states that has more than 30 percent women in the Senate,” she said.
But the balance is not spread throughout the world, even in areas of American influence, she said. When the new transitional government was formed in Iraq, a meager 17 percent of the fifty-person contingency was women.
“It makes a difference if women are there,” she said, adding the women are the ones in the neighborhoods, feeding their families in the war-torn country.
The event was organized by locals Robin Deighan and Deb Deverell. The Women’s Foundation also has a voice in the Vail Valley – Kathleen Eck and Kelly Ladyga are trustees for the Foundation, and Lucinda Daly and Ann Newman serve as honorary trustees.
Shelley Thompson, corporate relations and events manager for the Women’s Foundation of Colorado reaffirmed the Foundation’s presence in Vail. “The audience is sophisticated and appreciates information about international affairs,” she said. “It’s a natural fit for the foundation to be in the Vail Valley.”
The Women’s Foundation of Colorado was founded on the belief that women’s success is essential to the success of the community. The foundation, therefore, aggressively promotes the economic progress of women and girls throughout Colorado.
Since 1987, the foundation has invested more than $7.5 million and worked with more than 170 agencies in 70 communities to remove barriers and increase economic opportunities for women and girls.
Locally, the foundation funded the Status Project, which invited community leaders to discuss the challenges some local woman face in achieving economic self-sufficiency.
The foundation is also working with community leaders to help elementary school-age girls set goals and make healthy choices, in part by starting a multi-cultural mentoring program and parent support groups.
The foundation has also helped fund the “Wild Mountain Science Girls” through Red Cliff’s Gore Range Natural Science School as well as “Voices Carry” through Meet the Wilderness, another organization that tries to get students involved in the outdoors.
Local sponsors of the Hunt’s talk included the Beaver Creek Resort Company, American National Bank, RTP Internet Solutions, Alpine Bank, the Vail Daily, Wells Fargo and RockResorts.
Women’s Foundation of Colorado
On the Web: http://www.wfco.org