Moving Beyond Dialogue: A Call to Action

by Alli Celebron-Brown

Women’s Impact Fund member Jill Dinwiddie was honored in September by Dress for Success with the Paradigm Award. As many of you know, Jill is a champion for women’s empowerment. In her acceptance speech, she challenged the audience of 400+ to get involved, speak out and be the catalyst for change. Thank you, Jill, for sharing this with us and for your unwavering leadership.

Excerpts from Jill’s speech:

“You may remember that no women were chosen for the US Senate committee appointed to design a health care bill that would have had a dramatic impact on women; the bill was ultimately defeated by two women Senators, and then the most recent version was defeated by one women – Susan Collins of Maine. If you ever doubted that your one vote counts, that should convince you. We MUST elect more women, both Democrats and Republicans in Raleigh and in Washington if we ever want to have pay equity, if we ever want to have adequate, affordable child care, if we ever want to have access to affordable reproductive health care for all women and men. I encourage YOU to get involved whether you decide to run for office yourself, to raise money for someone running, or get someone to register to vote…”

“August 25th was the 60th Anniversary of the Little Rock Nine, when nine black students bravely marched in to integrate Little Rock High School. Sixty years later our own Opportunity Task Force Report tells us that the #1 problem facing our community and our nation is RACISM. How are we going to deal with this? We all have a role to play in putting the recommendations of the Report to work in our organizations and work environments. I want my grandchildren to grow into their careers rubbing elbows with people of color who’ve had similar educational opportunities to theirs, who can solve these cultural problems that have built walls around our communities and created barriers to success for so many people of color. We must solve these problems. Speak up! Get into mixed discussion groups with people who don’t look like you, like what WIF started at the recent Social Hour for Social Issues;  Try to develop meaningful relationships with people who don’t share your racial identity; read one of the numerous books that present a cultural perspective different from yours, like Hillbilly Elegy, Small Great Things, Strangers in their Own Land or Waking up White; Invite someone to break bread with you who looks different from you; Take part in one of the numerous racial discussions around town, like at the Levine Museum of the New South or at one of the churches. But don’t do nothing! Don’t say I’m just one person I can’t have an impact. The more we open our mouths and speak out the more we become a chorus. The more we’re a chorus, the more the tune will be forced to change…”

“A friend’s 2014 Blog – ‘You Have to Do the Hard Things’:

The things that no one else is doing.  The things that scare you.

The things that make you wonder how much longer you can hold on.

Those are the things that define you.  Those are the things that make the difference between living a life of mediocrity or outrageous success.

The hard things are the easiest things to avoid; to excuse away; to pretend like they don’t apply to you.

The simple truth about how ordinary people accomplish outrageous feats of success if that they do the hard things that smarter, wealthier, more qualified people don’t have the courage – or desperation – to do.

Do the hard things.  You might be surprised at how amazing you really are.”