A yearlong nationwide initiative to bring civic leadership and advocacy training to thousands of underserved women kicked off last weekend at The Family Place in Dallas.
The Gretchen Carlson Leadership Initiative is a partnership of All in Together Campaign, a nonpartisan women’s organization committed to providing innovative solutions to advance women’s political, civic, and professional leadership in the U.S., and Carlson’s Gift of Courage Fund.
From Dallas, programming will take place throughout the next year in cities across the nation including Jackson, Mississippi and Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Carlson spoke Nov. 4 during the launch in Dallas, along with Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, Lauren Leader-Chivée, co-founder and CEO of All in Together, Paige Flink, CEO of The Family Place, Tiffany McDaniel, chief program officer of The Family Place, and Tonya Williams, senior adviser at All in Together.
About 35 women attended the kickoff at The Family Place, which provides a safe housing, counseling, and skills training for victims of domestic violence.
“We’re serving underserved women who have felt that they did not have a voice on so many issues: domestic violence, sexual harassment, and anything else,” Carlson said at the event. “What I’ve found out is that when you see yourself in those situations, you feel like you don’t have a voice on those issues… and I like to let women know that your voice matters.”
Carlson ended her talk with her favorite quote: “One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world.”
A former Miss America and Fox News anchor and host, Carlson brought attention to sexual harassment in the workplace in 2016 when she sued then Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes for sexual harassment. Several other women came forward after Carlson’s suit was filed alleging sexual harassment at the network and Ailes subsequently was forced to resign his job.
Carlson received a $20 million settlement in the lawsuit and has turned her attention and resources to becoming a vocal advocate for women’s issues nationwide.
“One woman can make a difference, but together we can rock the world.”
GCLI will focus on empowering women who have experienced gender-based discrimination, harassment, or violence in their lives. The Gift of Courage Fund provides grant money for GCLI programming, including political advocacy workshops, nonpartisan discussion groups, and education sessions on governmental policies.
LEADER-CHIVEE: ‘STOP SELLING OURSELVES SHORT’
Leader-Chivée led the Dallas workshop, educating attendees on political advocacy, relevant government policies, and effective civic participation.
“We [as women] have got to stop selling ourselves short in terms of what we know and our ability to have a voice and influence in our country — even if we’re not an expert in everything,” she told attendees.
The workshop also featured a panel discussion featuring Flink, Hall, Johnson, and Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez.
They shared stories of how they have persevered and overcome personal challenges to achieve the success they have attained professionally.
“There were many times that I wanted to quit,” Valdez said of her rise to sheriff from her law enforcement beginning as a young officer in the 1970s.
“I love being able to provide service to the community and to help those who can’t, under normal circumstances, help themselves.”
But Valdez said she fought her way through a male-dominated field, and she encouraged the women in attendance to try to influence political change.
“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu,” she told attendees.
Hall, who was named Dallas Police Chief in July, told attendees about her passion for law enforcement.
“I love law enforcement,” she said. “I love being able to provide service to the community and to help those who can’t, under normal circumstances, help themselves.”
Johnson urged attendees never to give up.
“You can’t rest on what you see,” she said. “Just because things look bad [and] just because things look like they’re not going to work out for you, you can’t accept it. You have to decide that even with what I see, my circumstance will not take me to where I know I’m going.”
Johnson told the women to believe in themselves.
“You have to believe in where you’re going,” she said. “You have to persevere and don’t take ‘no’ for an answer.”
Flink said The Family Place was honored to serve as an inaugural location for the initiative.
“The clients and volunteers of The Family Place are now energized and motivated to take a bigger role in making their voices heard,” Flink said. “We’ve named our group #Fierce Females and hope to be a catalyst for change in our community.”
Feature montage: Dallas Innovates. Logo and photos, All In Together; Hands, Rawpixel via iStockphoto.
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