Don’t even think about arguing about it. Superstar debater Leah Castella can demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that teen girls need coaching to learn the fine art of argument.
Now a partner in the Oakland office of the Los Angeles-based law firm Burke, Williams and Sorensen, she was instrumental in developing the Women’s Debate Institute, a summer camp that teaches female high school students how to debate and capitalize on that skill.
Castella, in the past eight years, helped expand the camp’s staff and base of supporters, as well as increased student enrollment. She also oversaw its relocation from remote Port Townsend, Wash., to South Haven, Minn., allowing the camp to be more accessible to girls across the United States.
It currently costs $350 to attend the four-day program. Many, but not all, of the campers receive scholarships to cover tuition and transportation.
Castella started her debate career at Duncanville High School in Duncanville, Texas, where she competed for four years. She went on to compete as a policy debater at Lewis and Clark College, winning a quarterfinals finish and a third place speaker award at the 1995 Cross Examination Debate Association national tournament.
She served as the Women’s Debate Institute’s executive director from the institute’s inception, but recently handed over daily management of the organization. Castella remains on the board of directors and has taken on a new role as director of recruitment in order to take her dream to the next stage: a tuition-free summer debating camp for female teens, with transportation provided.
Castella credits the idea of the debating camp to Jeff Shaw, her debating partner at Lewis and Clark College. He expressed concern to Castella that too few girls were debaters and that those who joined debating teams often felt intimidated and dropped out.
The timing of Shaw’s approach coincided with Castella’s observations at her first job at McCutchen Doyle, a law firm in San Francisco. A graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, she says that while women made up over 60 percent of the lawyers in her first year class, "men got the better assignments because they were advocates for themselves" and the women were too quiet.
The camp helps female teens improve their debating skills and exposes them to the community of women in debate. It also teaches the teens how to get into–and pay for–college, Castella says. Campers are assigned mentors who they can get in contact with after camp ends, she says, adding that many of them have kept in touch with each other.
"What I realized is that debate taught me to be a strong advocate for myself, which is a skill that pays dividends for the rest of your life," Castella says.
Alexine Clement Jackson calls herself a professional volunteer.
Clement Jackson’s activism on behalf of women around the world spans several decades and involves numerous organizations and so many board positions that she’s lost count. But the common thread in all of her accomplishments is using her life experiences as a catalyst to empower other women.
Clement Jackson says she wants to see more "women being active about determining the course of their lives."
As a 24-year breast cancer survivor–whose mother died of the disease when she was only 4 years old–she has been, and continues to be, a staunch spokesperson for raising awareness as chair of the board of directors of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
"After my mother died, my father told me she never mentioned the word ‘cancer,’" Clement Jackson says. "People didn’t talk about it back then. Nancy Brinker, founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, recalls that people who knew of her sister’s cancer wouldn’t walk on the same street with someone with cancer. They would cross the street, thinking it was contagious."
That always stuck with the now 74-year-old Clement Jackson, who has spent most of her life fighting for gender and racial equity. She’s been very public about her experiences, hoping to amplify the message about the importance of early detection and mammography.
"The incidence of breast cancer in African American populations is lower than that found in Caucasian populations . . . (yet we have a) higher mortality rate," Clement Jackson told the Spelman Messenger, the alumnae magazine of her alma mater, in its spring 2010 edition. "This is why it is so important that we address these disparities by spreading the information in our communities."
Clement Jackson has also been outspoken about the need for quality health care for everyone, using her platform as a board member of the Intercultural Cancer Council–an organization that addresses the unequal burden of cancer in racial, ethnic and other underserved populations–to call attention to unfair disparities in cancer treatment. For more than two decades, the council has prodded the health care community to address the subpar treatment often received by low-income families and people of color.
Clement Jackson is proud of the work these organizations have done, and she’s equally proud to have served on their boards.
"Today, through the breast cancer walks and other public campaigns, no woman has to feel shame," Clement Jackson says. "People can talk freely about cancer."
Clement Jackson credits her family for instilling in her the value of community participation, as well as her years working with the YWCA–where she’s been involved since 1973–for teaching her to be outcome-oriented.
"I want to be a resource, I want to be somebody who brings people together," Clement Jackson says. "We always need that."
A Dallas native, Lauren Embrey’s job description goes something like this: Must spend all waking hours giving money away–strategically–to enhance the lives of women and girls. Collaboration required with all major philanthropic organizations committed to this same goal.
Embrey’s independent spirit can be traced back to her childhood, where she "grew up in that Southern culture where women were more just to be seen, not to be as active in the community."
She attributes her break from that way of thinking to her time at the Hockaday School, an all-girls’ institution where she discovered that academic success and leadership are important qualities for young women.
"I’ve always been one who wanted to go against the grain," Embrey says. "I feel I’m a real leader in taking steps outside the box and taking a risk."
Growing up, Embrey noticed that women weren’t being fostered to reach their full potential and she knew things needed to be different.
"I considered becoming a feminist before I even knew what it was. I just knew that’s how I felt," she says.
After receiving her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Southern Methodist University, Embrey found that her leadership skills and passion for change were perfect for building on her family’s philanthropic efforts.
She continues work that began with her father, J. Lindsay Embrey. A successful real estate developer, he established the Embrey Family Foundation in 2004. He originally focused on supporting education through funding scholarships and building schools, but Embrey (along with her sister, Gayle Embrey) has extended the focus to community enrichment and human rights.
As the foundation’s CEO and president, Embrey addresses issues that affect women, including domestic human trafficking, women and girl’s leadership and racial and gender equity. Beneficiaries of the organization’s generosity include Alley’s House, which provides services to teen mothers, the Battered Women’s Foundation, which helps clients become self-sufficient, Mosaic Family Services, which serves the cultural and linguistic needs of immigrant women and children, and Resolana, which gives incarcerated women tools to enhance and rebuild their lives.
Embrey is also a member of the Women’s Donor Network, serves on the Strategic Planning Committee for the Women’s Funding Network and participates in the Women Moving Millions Initiative.
Reflecting on her efforts to affect positive change, especially among women, Embrey says, "It’s been the most gratifying experience of my life. It’s just been incredible."
Embrey adds that she’s in this for the long haul. "I really feel a force right now with women. Women are going to be the driving force for change. We have an opportunity to make real, systemic change. We’re living in a very exciting time."
Editor’s note: The Embrey Foundation gave a grant to Women’s eNews in 2010 to support the coverage of sex trafficking.
Who better to crash a glass ceiling than a civil engineer? Patricia Galloway not only did away with the ceiling in her own career, but also designs ways for other women to do the same.
Galloway originally wanted to be an interior designer. But hearing an engineering professor speak at her high school’s career day about the chance to draw and design buildings led her to switch career paths. Her mother supported the decision, but her grandmother said engineering is "something men do." Galloway’s guidance counselor and math teacher agreed, telling her she didn’t have the aptitude and that engineering was not for her. The three negatives only made her more positive she had made the right choice.
"It sounded very exciting," Galloway says. "It sounded like something I could be challenged by while still using my creativity."
Galloway earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering at Purdue University in 1978, received her MBA from the New York Institute of Technology in 1984 and then obtained her doctorate in infrastructure systems engineering from Kochi University of Technology in Japan in 2005. She worked at The Nielsen-Wurster Group, an international management consulting firm, as its CEO before becoming CEO of Pegasus Global Holdings in 2008.
But Galloway’s credentials didn’t prevent her from encountering gender bias. She describes meetings with male colleagues: "Still, to this day, where they don’t know who I am, no one talks to me and some of them act like I’m right out of school."
Galloway was elected president of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) in 2004, the first woman to hold the position in the organization’s 154-year history. She calls this one of her greatest achievements.
"There was a perception that women could never reach the board and certainly never be president," Galloway says. "So I ran and won by a landslide, which was even more rewarding."
Another milestone for Galloway was being appointed by the president of the United States to the National Science Board in 2006 for a six-year term. Her positions in ASCE and the National Science Board allowed her to mentor girls interested in engineering and the sciences.
"As ASCE president, I went to over 52 universities around the country and made sure I had time to spend with the students. I am still being asked by universities all around the world to come speak to their students about how exciting it is to be an engineer," Galloway says. "I took on a passion and embarked upon really trying to break down those ceilings."
— Angela Dallara
Judith Goldberg, living with a congenital disability, spends each day offering support and compassion to other women with disabilities in hopes that they might receive something many are deprived of: empowerment.
"I’ve always been aware of women’s rights . . . especially being a woman with a disability, you really experience different discriminations," Goldberg says. "We sometimes feel we don’t have a voice and that we can’t stand up for what we believe in and what we want because it’s intimidating, and we’re not listened to."
Disability rights were never on Goldberg’s radar, although she was born with congenital osteogenesis imperfecta and required a cane to walk. That is, until she entered college during the early 1970s. Her school had built a new facility with no elevator; the only accessible bathroom was in the basement. Disturbed by the lack of sensitivity, she helped form an on-campus organization that put the entire college staff in wheelchairs for a day.
With a master’s degree in rehabilitation counseling from New York University, Goldberg has held multiple positions in that field. At 35, she took on a personal challenge to get fit and began swimming competitively. Her four-year experience inspired her to switch careers from rehabilitation counseling to providing health and wellness for people with disabilities.
In 1998, Goldberg became director of the wellness component of the Initiative for Women with Disabilities Elly and Steve Hammerman Health and Wellness Center in New York. Two years later, she was appointed director of the center, part of the New York University Hospital for Joint Diseases. She has expanded the center from a gynecological care center to one that now offers an expansive array of classes and treatments.
The center has an Empowerment Program for women between ages 21 and 32, which provides fitness classes and gynecological services. Goldberg was also instrumental in launching a Wellness Program to provide such services as acupuncture, massages and even haircuts. The center also has a young women’s program with classes and workshops catering to those between ages 14 to 21.
She says the best thing about the center is that it’s a social network for those they serve–many of whom get together outside the center.
"It’s all about empowering women," Goldberg says. "A lot of places, when women with disabilities go there, people tell them what to do. We let the women decide what to do."
Goldberg adds that their approach seems to be working. "The women really grow and develop; they become more independent and they feel physically better. That, to me, is the most amazing thing."
Kathryn Hall-Trujillo traces her activism roots back to the civil rights movement, when she spent most of the 10th grade on picket lines, in jail or in court. She was once arrested for drinking from a "white" water fountain at an Arkansas drugstore and remembers spending several days in jail, where she had to choose between food and sanitary napkins while sleeping on a bed with no mattress.
"My take-away lesson from this experience was how much support I had from my community and how much potential there was for change if I had the courage to do my part," Hall-Trujillo says. "That’s pretty much the foundation for who I am as a person."
When the local white doctor refused to come to their neighborhood and help Hall-Trujillo’s dying grandmother, she decided to dedicate her life to helping those who needed it the most.
After earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at the University of California, Los Angeles, Hall-Trujillo spent the next 30 years working in the health care profession. While serving as an advisor with the California State Department of Health Services, she identified that too much money was being spent to take care of sick and dying babies and thought it made more sense to take care of women before they gave birth.
"When I was doing that, I realized that what I was doing wasn’t helping California save money, but helping women to be there for each other," Hall-Trujillo says. "Holding a dead baby is different than talking about infant mortality. I didn’t want to work for the state anymore; I wanted to help women."
In 1988, Hall-Trujillo launched the Birthing Project in Sacramento, Calif., which stresses the concept of women relying on each other, a process they call "sistering," to provide a place for them to come together, support one another and share knowledge. More than 20 years later, over 10,000 babies have been born in over 90 Birthing Projects in the United States, Canada, Cuba, Ghana, Honduras and Malawi.
"I do what I do now because it’s very personal for me. I started off my adult life as one of those women who didn’t have access to resources," Hall-Trujillo says. "It’s not only about having a place to get what you need, but to understand how to use those resources."
Hall-Trujillo has received numerous accolades for her efforts, including an Ashoka fellowship in 2007 and a CNN Heroes designation in 2010. But it’s the sight of healthy mothers and babies that keeps her motivated.
"I felt like I was doing that in honor of my grandmother. The bottom line of all the work I do is that all women have access to care," she says.
Colorado has seen three prostitution rings broken up and those involved prosecuted since May 2010, after Beth Klein’s anti-human trafficking law went into effect. The Denver-based attorney drafted the state law, which provides legal authority for local prosecutors to charge entire prostitution rings, from the owner of a brothel to the person who transports sex workers into the United States.
At the request of the president of the Colorado State Senate, Klein is now writing a law to take sex trafficking prosecution to an "extraordinary level." She’s working with the state’s attorney general and other organizations to end sex slavery by continuing to break up rings and compensate victims. Klein is also developing strategies to bring lawsuits against pedophiles and traffickers to obtain compensation for their victims.
Klein was first exposed to human trafficking in the late 1970s, when her grandfather bought a mail-order bride. Even as a young woman, as she watched him marry a 21-year-old, she recognized this was a "harmful, shameful and inhumane" practice. She recalled that experience in 2000 when, now armed with a law degree, she visited Costa Rica and witnessed American pedophiles arriving there as sex tourists.
She realized that while prostitution is often illegal, the process that creates the availability of prostitutes has not been identified as trafficking. Klein decided to do something–namely, educate men on prostitution and transform their view of it. She says oftentimes when men realize they’re contributing to a destructive cycle–most prostitutes are forced into this way of life as young as age 12–they no longer want to participate.
Klein also serves on the national steering committee of Demand Abolition, an advocacy organization that seeks to dramatically reduce the demand for sex trafficking and commercial sex in the United States. She has been invited to work with the Knesset in Israel and senior ministers in Scotland in 2011 to assist these nations in creating effective anti-trafficking laws.
— Mary Kate Boylan
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