Story of Purpose: Elizabeth Sheehan

Elizabeth Sheehan is a member of Women Moving Millions & is the Founder of Care 2 Communities.

Photo - Liz Sheehan largeWhat purpose drives me? Every day, I work to ensure access to quality health care for women and children worldwide. I am fortunate; I have resources to share – and am part of the Women Moving Millions Tribe. I am able to fund, advocate, and innovate within the global health space. My driving purpose would not change, even if my circumstances did. If I did not have the means to be a philanthropist, I would put my clinical skills to work in a humanitarian capacity. If I had unlimited funds, I would still focus on health care for families.
For myself, and as an example to my children, I live by three commitments:
  • I devote half of my time and income to improving access to primary health care in the developing world.
  • I seek to learn and share, researching innovative models worldwide, and sharing my own experience developing a groundbreaking primary health care model to serve communities in Haiti and Africa.
  • I model hands-on philanthropy for the next generation. I want my children to know that mothers worldwide want the best for their children. As I provide for my family, I keep front-of-mind that many in this world struggle to meet basic needs like health, education, and safety.
I found my purpose long before I inherited wealth. I am the happiest when I have my sleeves rolled up. I enjoyed working in emergency rooms as a Physician Assistant, working with patients to solve their medical issues. I began to realize that I could better people’s lives through medicine. For years, I worked as a PA in the U.S., in the minefields of Cambodia, and in crowded hospitals in Africa. I have seen that simple interventions lead to healthy families, and healthy families can lift themselves out of poverty. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to assist these families every day.
When I returned to the U.S. after serving families in the developing world, I knew I wanted my charitable investment to make a real change. I found a team of smart, driven optimists, and over the past five years we have built a model for financially sustainable primary care delivered out of modified shipping containers. Through Care 2 Communities (C2C), we operate these clinics in some of the world’s most challenging environments, including Haiti and Southern Africa. We deliver a full package of high-quality care – thoughtful clinicians, accurate diagnostics, and trusted pharmaceuticals  –  and we partner with communities and patients to ensure long-term financial sustainability.
If I knew I couldn’t fail, I would go bigger! I would work within the social enterprise sector, building up entire communities to lift people out of poverty. Along with high-quality clinics, I would add schools, microcredit programs for community entrepreneurs, and solutions tackling water, sanitation, and safety.
I am committed to sharing, serving, and balancing the scales of global inequality. I won’t stop because I care about families – not just my own. My driving purpose is to contribute to the health of mothers and families AND give communities the opportunity to build and support their own community assets.
This post was submitted to Bold Voices through The Writers Program. To learn more about this program, please contact Amanda, Associate Director of Programs, at info@womenmovingmillions.org.

Story of Purpose: Indrani Goradia

Indrani is a member of Women Moving Millions & the Founder of the Indrani’s Light Foundation.

 Indrani4When I was a stay home mom, who never stayed home, I thought that my work in the big wide world had come to an end. While I enjoyed raising my kids, I often wondered if there was something else I could do and I wondered if I would have any shelf life when the kids left home.
The ability to be patient and to follow the bread crumbs of my life and life experiences lead me to where I am today. The journey from childhood abuse, to vowing to never abuse my own children, to learning the many forms abuse can take, put me on the path to the foundation I created. At Indrani’s Light we are committed to ending violence against women globally.
To get to this juncture, I became a life coach, a yoga teacher, and a yoga therapist. I studied with Dr. Brené Brown and I wove all those bits of learning into my global outreach for women and children.
I travel the world to teach at shelters and women’s organizations – our classes focus on setting boundaries, saying “No”, and becoming resilient to shame.
Nothing fires me up more than seeing an abused woman get that look in her eye when she realizes that she does NOT have to accept the abuse. I do this work because of all of the women like me who need to hear that there is a way out of the darkness into a new light. According to UN Women: “the roots of violence against women lie in the persistent discrimination against women and girls.” We must find ways to shift the ingrained beliefs about women’s rights and bodies.
One of the greatest joys of this stage of life is the global philanthropy work that I am doing with Population Services International. Their global reach has enabled me to attain the dream of my global work. This would not have been possible without our strong partnership.
I could not have imagined that my life would be so full and bright at this age and I cannot imagine life without the work that I am doing now. To have spoken at the United Nations in February of 2015 was a highlight and a dream I never knew I had. This global reach helps me to believe that my work is necessary and meaningful.
When I wake up in the morning, I know that the day will bring new opportunities and ways to guide women out of their cultural and self-imposed restrictions towards a bigger and fuller life, where their talents and skills will be recognized and applauded.
I long for the day when violence against women is but a footnote in history and that when a girl is born, we see promise and possibilities.
I cannot imagine doing work more sacred than using my voice and resources to create positive global changes for women.
This post was submitted to Bold Voices through The Writers Program. To learn more about this program, please contact Amanda, Associate Director of Programs, at info@womenmovingmillions.org.

Story of Purpose: Julie George

Julie George is a member of Women Moving Millions & Board Co-Chair of the Canadian Women’s Foundation.

julie george photo story of purposeI grew up in a rural farm family of eight with little means. While my parents did not have extra money to give after caring for our family, they gave with examples of compassion and leadership in the community. They were my best mentors, and showed me what purposeful giving from a non-monetary lens meant at a young age.
After marrying my high school sweetheart and best friend, we followed career opportunities to Houston, TX. There, I landed a job teaching physical education and dance in an inner city high school. It was at this job that I learned “survival skills & street smarts” and all the lessons NOT taught in university.
It was then I realized that not all girls were given opportunities to build their own self-esteem, confidence and independence. Education and intelligence were extremely undervalued. Rather, students were vying for “street cred” gained by bringing their babies to school. There was a feeling of hopelessness that was pervasive throughout the community. It became my purpose to help them find their own voices and give them hope. I started a dance program encouraging the “roughest” students to join. The power they experienced by learning to use their bodies in an athletic and strong way spilled over into their daily life.
After a few years, my husband’s job in the energy business eventually took us to the U.K. Along with that move came my new identity (or so I thought) as an unemployed, expat, mother of three, and wife of a CEO. Even though I loved my life – the adventure of exploring and learning, being an active mom, and a happy spouse – I began questioning my OWN purpose. After 12 years of living in the museum called London, we moved to Canada. My husband continued his successful journey. As our balance sheet became more fruitful, my need for purpose became even greater.
Through the years, I was an active donor in numerous organizations but didn’t feel I was really making an impact. All of these experiences, a family member in crisis, and becoming a Canadian citizen, cemented my desire to help women and girls be the best they could be and find their own voice.
In 2009, we partnered with a successful therapist in Calgary to found Juno House – a center of excellence that supports adolescent girls and their families to access mental health services and support. I hope the day will come when I won’t meet a parent whose daughter has been treated at Juno House and through tears I hear, “Juno House saved my daughter, our family”. That day will mean that adolescent girls overlook the pressures of social media, feel good about how they look, and have truly found their own voice!
As a proud Canadian citizen, it has been important for me to look nationally at the lives of women and girls in all corners of Canada. When I was invited to serve on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Women’s Foundation in 2008, I jumped and have had the opportunity to be the co-chair since 2010. The important work this national foundation is doing has enabled me to use my influential voice to improve the lives of women and girls, AND strategically invest my dollars to bring reality to the hopes of dreamers and empowerment to women and girls to live without limits. Now an active donor to and honored board member of WMM, I am challenged with purpose each and every day from this group of extraordinary individuals…thought provokers, philanthropists, and DOERS!!!!
Now that I give of myself with true purpose, I am proud of my identity as change maker, 1 million dollar+ donor, mother, spouse, & Nona to four wonderful grandchildren who may just learn to live with extraordinary purpose as well. With sparks of humor thrown in each and every day.
This post was submitted to Bold Voices through The Writers Program. To learn more about this program, please contact Amanda, Associate Director of Programs, at info@womenmovingmillions.org.

Story of Purpose: Yann Borgstedt

Yann is a member of Women Moving Millions & the Founder of The Womanity Foundation.

As someone wyann story of purpose photoho has been given a lot of opportunities, I often ask myself how I can create purpose for myself and value for others. While I started my philanthropic efforts early on, it was not until I travelled to Morocco and Afghanistan that my efforts coalesced around providing opportunities to marginalized women and girls. Since then, the Womanity Foundation’s work has expanded into several countries and cuts across key issues including girls’ education, preventing gender-based violence, economic empowerment, building women’s voices in society, and engaging both men and women around equality.
A society cannot reach its potential if half of its population is denied participation. My purpose is to create a level playing field through social innovation and ensure that more and more women and girls can be educated, live free from abuse, and be productive. This, I am sure, will lead to sustainable progress.
With respect to our work, social innovation means contributing to women’s emancipation. We use approaches that are inclusive and participative, for example, in our work with media in the Middle East and North Africa, where we have created the first commercial radio run by women, radio Nisaa, and piloted a radio series called “Worth 100 Men”, the fictional story of an intrepid woman journalist who finds creative ways to overcome everyday challenges. The series was accompanied by interactions with the public and with community leaders, many of them men, on mainstream and social media and in real life events.
In the 10-year journey since our creation in 2005, we have learned a lot about supporting interventions that create systemic change. We are striving to incubate new approaches, finding ways to apply new technologies, fostering collaborations between organizations and across cultures, and seeking to scale approaches that have a proven impact. Such risk-taking can some-times result in failure but also presents critical learning opportunities that improve our practice and our programs. We are responsible to the people we serve and we have to look humbly at how we can continue to improve our work and benefit more people. Our WomenChangeMakers Fellowship in India and Brazil has proven to be a fertile ground for experimenting with different forms of collaborations between social change actors, private corporations, professional experts, and researchers.
I hope the work that I am doing inspires other men. Men have to realize that they, too, will benefit from a fully functioning society. We all need to be part of the change. The first awardees of the Womanity Award to Prevent Violence Against Women were Promundo (Brazil and international) and Abaad (Lebanon) who are replicating Promundo’s successful work with boys and men on promoting new forms of masculinity, a first ever in the Middle East.
In the future, I see Womanity further pushing the boundaries for women’s empowerment, collaborating with visionaries, activists and innovators in both policymaking and in business. By working cohesively and creatively, we can truly and sustainably help women to realize their aspirations and reach their full potential in society.
This post was submitted to Bold Voices through The Writers Program. To learn more about this program, please contact Amanda, Associate Director of Programs, at info@womenmovingmillions.org.

Welcome to Bold Voices, the Women Moving Millions Blog

Six months ago when we began our website redesign process, we thought carefully about how best to highlight and leverage our community’s vast knowledge and expertise.

Behold Bold Voices, the new Women Moving Millions blog and home of The Writers Program.

Here, we will feature original stories and content from our members, partners & friends.

With this blog, we hope not only to provide our community with a fresh platform to learn, share and engage, but also inspire others to give big + bold to women and girls.

We encourage you to reach out to our Team to share your stories and experiences.

Together, we can catalyze unprecedented resources for the advancement of women and girls.

Warmly,

The Women Moving Millions Team