Top Take-Aways From The Skoll World Forum 2016

IMG_9764I love going to conferences. Yes, I am one of those people who show up full of anticipation that I will learn something new, meet someone who will become my new best friend, deepen relationships with people I already know, experience something different, and leave fully fueled so that I can continue in my diverse efforts to help make the world a better place. As we all know, some conferences are better than others, but as I depart from my inaugural trip to the SKOLL World Forum in Oxford, England, I checked off all of the above!

In case you have not heard about it, what exactly is this special event? It is a by-invitation gathering that happens only once a year, and it is hosted by the team at the Skoll Foundation. They bring together nearly 1,000 top innovators from more than 60 countries for debate, discussion, and networking, and the conference is designed to accelerate entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s most pressing problems. What’s not to like about that? The theme for this year was fierce compassion as a driver of social progress. It just so happens that both of those words; fierce and compassion, happen to be on my top ten list of words that inspire me, so my expectations for this conference were very high.

To do a full debrief on every session I attended, every speaker I heard, and every new and awesome person I met would fill up a book, and indeed it did, so allow me to share the highlights in an unusual form. Included below are some of my favorite people, powerful words, calls to action, and more, all in chronological order. I hope you like it.

Utah to Oxford. 4810 Miles. Arrive in pouring rain. Surprised? England. Check-in. HI. Hey. HI. Hey. HI. Me? First time. You? My second. My fifth. My tenth. Me too. Walking tour? Sure! 38 colleges, some dating back to the 13th century? Cool. Understatement. Pub night at the Head of the River. Another please. Shining Hope for Communities. Find Me Unafraid. Love Story Jessica + Kennedy. New besties? Check. Sleep? Not really.

Excitement! First session. Higher Ground: Faith and Spirituality as Levers for Change. We cannot retreat to our silos. Dialogue. Fav? Molly MelchingTOSTAN. Include religious leaders in the process to discuss and change negative social norms. Human rights education. Lunch. Global Innovation Fund. New. Grounded in evidence with rigorous measurement. Follow-up. Introductions. Research. First Plenary. Stephan Chambers. For the next few days, you do not have to explain why you do what you do. What we combat does not get tired. Jeff Skoll. Climate Crisis. YES IT’S REAL. Mary Robinson. Paris Agreement. Get FIERCER. The Fierce Urgency of Now. Selina Leem. Marshall Islands. One of the most vulnerable places on earth to climate change. Annie Griffiths. Ripple Effect. If we want women to be valued we must show their value. Indoor pollution #1 killer of women in the developing world and children under the age of five. 4.3 million deaths per year. Hut Lung. Say what? Al Gore. #sofunny. #whoknew. Three questions. 1) Do we really have to change? 2) Can we Change? 3) Will we change? BAD News. Really Bad. Hope. Global wind and solar capacity. This is a moral choice. Pick a side. Let us not forget that the power of people is much stronger than that of people in power. Malek Jandali. Syrian American Composer and Pianist. Breathtaking. Next. The Neuroscience of Fierce Compassion. Can we grow empathy? Is empathy a choice? Academic debate. Way too many ideas and questions. Brain exploding. Finding your story and making it count: A Session with Sundance. Tabitha Jackson. #girlcrush. What makes a good story? Truth. Transcendence. Transformation. I get to work with her. Na na na na na na. Think about how things should fit together. Then fit them together. The world is full of free things that are delightful. Delight. Funders reception. Dinner. Sleep? Not really.

#soexited. Leading Through Adversity. Pat Mitchell. #bestie. Alaa Murabit.Mary Robinson. Mphu Tutu. Halla Tomasdottir. Running for President of Iceland and an absolutely amazing woman. Wish she was running here! What is the source of the power? From where does one derive it? When you specifically wrong you learn a lot, when you are vaguely right you do not. As a leader are you giving space, or taking it? Next. The News We Need. @jesssearch. Brit Doc. #girlcrush. What is news? …what someone does not want to be printed…helps us to understand who we are and what we care about…reveals [email protected] @zoesqwilliams @doctoryasmin @anasglobal!!!!! @anasglobal in a mask, deep investigative journalist in Ghana. Name. Shame. Jail. Justice sold is the most dangerous commodity on earth. On corruption. Google Raceboy. Islamophobia. Pay for quality journalism! Funders lunch. Women and girls table. Most crowded! WOO HOO. Plenary. Sally Osberg President and CEO Skoll Foundation. #girlcrush Do we have an innate desire and capacity for justice? Skoll Awardees. $1.25 mm each. GO HERE to view them all. AMAZING. Separate blog. Reception at the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Technology. Stories of Change Dinner. The Slug and the Lettuce. Beer and networking. Networking and beer. Sleep? Ya right.

Last day. Private meeting. Molly Melching. TOSTAN. #impact #beautifulperson. Panel. Challenging Global Wealth and Inquality. Fav? Darren Walker, President Ford Foundation. #guycrush. New face? Nick Hanauer. Middle-up economics versus trickle down economics. What are the drivers of inequality? Persistent prejudice and negative cultural narratives… corruption…rigged rules…aspirational deficits…immoral capitalism…We need more rich white guys talking about inquality. Is revolution inevitable? Closing Plenary. Alexander Betts. Director. Refugee Center. Oxford. Research on Myths around Refugees. Need a paradigm shift. Man does not live on food and water alone. But on hope. Know the facts. Change the narrative. Create a just scheme to distribute refugees. #respect. #humanrights. Tabitha Jackson. Again! #awesome. Sonita. Sundance premiered documentary film. Yes I was there. Her story. Afghanistan. Iran. Girl rapper. WATCH THIS NOW. Seriously. WATCH. Activist. Must see. When you don’t have papers you don’t exist. I was not mad at my mom. I was mad at society. On social norms around child marriage. Official close. Stephan Chambers. The will to act is itself a renewable resource. Be clear that what you do is important. Last Thing. Henry James. Only three things are important in life. The First is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third? To be kind.

After the conference was officially over, I hung around for six more hours chatting with the other “slow to departers”. I had the pleasure of meeting up with Heather Mason, Founder and CEO of the Caspian Agency, who was responsible for executing this multi-day event. To say she is a conference planning rockstar would indeed be an understatement.

As I type now I am sitting at the Heathrow airport about to board my flight back home. Will I be back next year? Darn right I will! Congrats to the SKOLL team for a job incredibly well done, and for ALL the work they do in support of social entrepreneurs everywhere. Truly incredible! And if you are looking for incredible organizations to support, spend some time on the SKOLL website to read about their many awardees. I think you will be hard-pressed to find a better list of amazing non-profits that are worthy of our support.

Take a cruise through the TWEETS to get other amazing take-aways from SKOLL Forum 2016 using hashtag #skollwf . Follow @skollfoundation on Twitter for year-round conversations and news.

PS – definition of girl crush: feelings of admiration and adoration that a girl (woman) has for another girl (woman).  A nonsexual attraction, usually based on veneration at some level.

Photo with Pat Mitchell and Halla Tomasdottir, who is currently running for the President of Iceland.

Women, Arts and Social Change

IMG_2349[1]What percentage of art currently on display in US museums was made by women? According to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, it is 5%.   Even worse, less than 3% of the artists in the Modern Art section of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art are women, but 83% of the nudes are female. So hmm… it is 27 times more likely that a woman is featured nude in a painting, then to have been the featured artist.  Not good.

The statistics on women in art are staggeringly poor, yet not widely publicized. Even though I am known as ‘fact girl’, these were ones I had not heard until  I had the pleasure of hearing Susan Fisher Sterling, Director of the National Museum of Women in the Arts (NMWA), speak at an art talk in Park City this week. I also learned that this museum is the only major museum in the WORLD solely dedicated to recognizing women’s creative achievements in the arts.

The National Museum of Women in the Arts has been working to bring awareness to the lack of women represented on museum walls and in collectors portfolios since 1981, when the museum was founded by Wilhelmina Cole Holladay and Wallace F. Holladay. In addition to advocating for women in the arts, the museum has worked to collect, preserve and display over 4,500 art works created by women. The Museum, which is located in downtown Washington DC, has 5 floors and over 80,000 square feet 100% dedicated to work by women. NMWA spotlights remarkable women artists of the past, while also promoting the best women artists working today.

My dear friend, and fellow Park City local, Susan Swartz, had her first major solo exhibit at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in 2011. It was called  Seasons of the Soul  and since that time her work has become international recognized.  She is but one example of amazing women artists whose careers have been enhanced and supported but this awesome institution. Another amazing woman to have a show at the museum is Carrie Mae Weemes. She is preeminent  photographer that I just happen to have in my collection. If you have not heard of her, please check out her web-site. One thing Susan Fisher asked in her remarks were “how many famous women artists can you name?” Think about it. The answers are likely a lot fewer in number than  for male artists, and that needs to change.  Thanks to this museum, it likely well.

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In 2014  NMWA launched a bold new programmatic initiative called Women, Arts and Social Change. Through a series of public programs, the initiative will highlight the power of women and the arts as a catalyst for solutions to society’s most pressing issues, particularly those affecting women and girls. I am really excited to see where this new initiative will take the museum and how it will continue to engage new and younger audiences about the importance of women in the arts. This aligns beautifully to the work I am doing with Women Moving Millions to promote documentary film as a tool for social next. Next week I will be in New York for a full day workshop, and I will travel to Dallas for a similar event on May 7th.

I invite you to suport NMWA  and please visit their website at http://nmwa.org/

 

Photo above – Robin Marrouche, Director of the Kimball Art Center in Park City, Susan Fisher Sterling, and yours truly.

 

Malala – Why You Are Never Too Young To Take A Stand

Malala Yousafzai from Women Moving Millions on Vimeo.

Originally posted on LinkedIn Influencers on October 14, 2014.

Last month, Women Moving Millions (WMM) held our annual summit in New York City. It was two action packed days of speakers, panels, discussions, and debate, all revolving around The Story of Power, which was this year’s theme. We were fortunate to have so many incredible speakers and guests in attendance, such as Pat Mitchell, Gloria Feldt, Demi Moore, Her Royal Highness the Crown Princess of Norway Mette-Marit. Michel Kimmel, Barbara Annis and Abigail Disney, but in particular, we were honoured to have Malala Yousafzai be a part of our event. Malala, as many people know, is an extraordinary teenager from Pakistan. She first made headlines around the world in October of 2012 when Taliban gunmen boarded her school bus and shot her in the head at the age of 15. She was targeted because of her advocacy for the right of children, and in particular young girls, to go to school, and the world at large was appalled by the horrific attempt on her life. Miraculously, Malala survived the attack, and in the two years since, she has spoken out for the educational rights of children around the world, set up the Malala Fund to help spur education initiatives, inspired a petition calling for every child in the world to be in school by 2015, released a book titled I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and in July of 2013, she addressed the United Nations on her 16th birthday and called for universal worldwide access to education. Like I said, she is extraordinary.

Last week, in recognition of her efforts to support the educational rights of children, despite the dangers this advocacy poses, the Nobel Committee awarded Malala the Nobel Peace Prize jointly with children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi of India. At 17, she is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient in history, and only the second recipient from Pakistan, after Abdus Salam won in 1979 for Physics, and I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award. While it took incredible courage and bravery to speak out for girls’ education prior to the attack on her life, it is what she has done in the aftermath that most amazes me. Malala has taken the spotlight that has been thrust upon her and used it to advocate for the right of children to go to school around the world. She was given a platform to speak from, and she has made sure that her voice is being heard, all while remaining incredibly poised, articulate, and self-assured, and when she speaks, she speaks with a wisdom that is way beyond her years.

When I think of Malala and all that she has accomplished, I can’t help but think of what an incredible role model she is for young people around the world. Her story is proof that no matter what your age, you are never too young to take a stand and speak out for what you believe in, and it is my hope that when children and teenagers read about Malala’s journey to where she is today, they will realize that it is never too early to make a difference in this world. It is this inspiration, along with her numerous other accomplishments, that will be Malala’s legacy for decades to come.

With all of the honors, awards, and accolades, not to mention the numerous speaking engagements, appearances, and speeches, it is worth noting that Malala has remained a remarkably grounded teenager through it all, and despite her fame, she is certainly not neglecting her studies. In fact, Malala was not with us in person for the summit last month because she was back at school in England. Instead, she addressed us through a pre-recorded message that can be seen here ( and above) and Shiza Shahid, Executive Director of The Malala Fund addressed the group in person (pictured above). Additionally, it was reported that when news broke last week that Malala had won the Nobel Peace Prize, she had to be pulled from a Chemistry class to be given the good news. Something tells me that after securing a place in history, Malala went right back to her class and to the education that every child in the world deserves. If Malala has anything to say about it, that day will arrive sooner rather than later.