In 2018, I had the chance to speak at a number of diverse events. These included the Society of Women Engineers Annual Conference in Minneapolis; Thompson Reuters Conference in Seattle; the Women in Tech Regatta in Amsterdam; the Women in Clean Tech and Sustainability Talks in Sunnyvale; and to MBA students at NYU’s Stern School in New York City. I also shared my thoughts at our Adventures in Literacy Gala that year as I have annually. The audiences and subject matters were all quite unique and yet, I found two consistent themes.
- Stories unlock power. Stories from a refugee going to Stanford then onto Microsoft, Women Engineering Leaders, innovators, collaborators, and provocateurs. Each of these events focused on bringing people together to hear and share stories that move forward solutions to complex challenges – gender, sustainability, women in tech, inclusion, literacy, and maximizing early career impact. Stories unlock the power to teach, to inspire, to illustrate, and to see the world differently. The human collective is made up of individual stories. The ones you choose to hear or intentionally seek out matter.
- Connections happen everywhere. At each event, I was connected to people I did not know or did not know would be there. I met an Eritrean from Microsoft in Amsterdam; she knew people I did too. Ex-colleagues found me in Minneapolis as did a woman who recognized her face in my daughter’s and wanted to hear more about OHBD. There is no better way to make a connection than face to face. This is tough in today’s busy and technology-driven world, but it’s worth the investment. I only half joke that a selling point of our fundraising events are the networking opportunities they present.
Open Hearts Big Dreams was built on the belief that telling stories can change the world and connections will give us the means to do so.