A Note about the Relaunch of this Website

June 2019 – It’s been 22 months since Kent and I intentionally upended our lives and moved to DC. After 20 years as a tenured professor at a university in rural PA, I am now an executive director of a nonprofit. It’s been a wild ride, by choice, presenting us with new challenges, joys, and ways of being in the world. House to apartment. Rural to urban. Prof to ED. Conservative to Progressive communities. Car to Metro. It’s been a great lesson in letting go and embracing change. An advantage of living here is the opportunity for programs focused on professional development and personal growth. In service to those goals, I’ve relaunched my website and returned to blogging as a tool for exploring and articulating a model of feminist leadership at the intersection of feminist values, mindfulness, allyship, and some wild women wisdom. All of these pieces fit together. Writing will help me figure out how. Want to follow along and join in the conversation?

Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute 28-day challenge: Day 1 (Got Superpowers?)

Mindfulness and meditation are superpowers.” That definitely got my attention at the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute training last week. It also inspired me to resurrect this website and blog about the SITLI 28-day challenge as a means for holding me accountable and developing a mindfulness practice. The goal? To become a mindful badass. And a compassionate leader in service to social justice.

Day 1 of the challenge was simple, to complete one full cycle of breath and consider how it felt and how it impacts the state of mind. I’m combining this with instructions found in the book, The Mindful Day by Laurie Cameron. While I struggle not to judge meditation as a bunch of woo-woo weirdness, the SITLI training presented empirical research to back up the benefits. In addition, the practices we engaged in over the two days were actually quite centering. At this stage, as a beginner, it’s really just about sticking with it.

Today I am particularly drawn to Laurie’s suggestion for invoking loving kindness. She suggests spending five minutes bringing to mind individuals or groups of people and “Then offer good wishes to each person by repeating the phrase: May you be healthy, may you be safe, may you be well, may you be happy.”

Imagine the power of this when we include people we are different from and afraid of, or at odds with, or we don’t like. As another SIYLI workshop participant expressed to me, “This is hard work!” Yes. Indeed. Breathe.

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#BringTheFire: Calling out Toxic Masculinity for a DC Free from Domestic Violence

It was an honor to speak at the DC Coalition against Domestic Violence Rally on the eve of International Women’s Day 2019 alongside kickass leaders like Alicia Sanchez Gill and Karma Cottman. This was a true bucket list moment! Here is my speech.

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Hello, beautiful people!! How’s everybody doing? I don’t think Mayor Bowser and the DC Council can hear you. Let’s make some noise!

Thank you, to the DC Coalition for bringing us here today, and thanks to all of you for stepping up on behalf of survivors of domestic violence. You had a choice about where to be today and you chose to be here.

Let’s show our appreciation for each other, shall we? Would you please turn to someone you don’t know, right now, shake their hand, and say, “Thank you for being here.”  

It’s such an honor for me to represent DV LEAP and join this remarkable group of women leaders, to speak at Freedom Plaza, a space dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. So many historic marches and protests have kicked off from this location.  

We all stand here on the shoulders of the social justice giants who came to this plaza before us, always speaking truth to power. Now we carry that torch. We must bring the fire.What are we gonna do?Bring the fire! Mayor Bowser, we are turning up the heat!  

Tomorrow is International Women’s Day, in the 21st century. The 21st century. Yet, violence against women around the world remains a major public health problem – and a violation of basic human rights.

I have witnessed these atrocities first-hand in the US and in my own research on sexualized violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as part of my work with Dr. Denis Mukwege, the 2018 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. Together we co-founded Panzi Foundation USA in support of Panzi hospital, where Dr. Mukwege and his staff treat thousands of women for their injuries due to rape. Please remember them on this International Women’s Day and keep them on your conscience and in your heart.

Global estimates indicate that 1 in 3 or 35% of women worldwide, have experienced either physical and/or sexualized violence in their lifetime. In DC, that statistic is 39%. What are we gonna do? Bring the fire!

When we bring the fire, we shine a much needed light on the source of this violence: toxic masculinity. This destructive construction of manhood is characterized by oppressive, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, and transphobic beliefs and actions.

As Amanda Marcotte wrote for Salon, “It’s a manhood that views women and LGBT people as inferior, sees sex as an act of domination, and valorizes violence as the way to prove one’s self to the world. Toxic masculinity aspires to toughness but is, in fact, an ideology of living in fear: The fear of ever seeming soft, tender, weak, or somehow less than manly.”

In this town, there is certainly no shortage of examples of toxic masculinity. What are we gonna do? Bring the fire!

At DV LEAP, we aren’t just up against perpetrators when we represent survivors in court on legal appeals. We are also up against this same toxic masculinity internalized by judges, lawyers, mental health professionals, even guardians ad litem and other supposed advocates in the judicial system.

Too often survivors are denied protection by the courts for themselves and their children, jeopardizing their safety and well-being.

I want you to think about the number 58,000. This is the size of some sports arenas and towns. 58,000. This is also the estimated number of children court-ordered into the unsupervised cared of an abusive father every year.

The implicit bias of judges against survivors is pervasive throughout the judicial system. Two words: Brock Turner. Consider the sentencing of this rapist, a white male, convicted of multiple felonies for assaulting an unconscious woman, who only received a six-month sentence in a county jail. Why?

As the judge said, because “a prison sentence would have severe impact on him.” What are we gonna do? Bring the fire!

Men are almost NEVER taught to NOT rape. If we are going to de-toxify toxic masculinity, we must fully fund domestic violence prevention education and policy in our schools. In DC, this is now possible through the recently passed School Safety Omnibus Act.

Mayor Bowser, the key to ending dating and domestic violence is investment in primary prevention and early intervention. We must fund programs that focus on healthy relationships and consent education so that all DC youth have the tools they need to thrive. What are we gonna do? Bring the fire! Thank you!

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