Together We Rise

Guest post by Kara Wiegand – Board member for Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund, Founder & COO for Threads Worldwide, Huff Post Contributor, and Director for Strategic Partnerships for Emerging Women

At the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit, the Dalai Lama predicted that Western women will save the world. At the time, I believed that he was speaking about the impressive panel of female attendees, including three Nobel peace laureates, the Irish president, humanitarians, filmmakers — acclaimed peacemakers. But through my work with Threads Worldwide, our women Artisan Partners in developing countries, our Fair Trade Partners in the US, and the countless trailblazing women I have met on my journey, I have come to realize that the possibility he was talking about was me. He was talking about them. He was talking about you.

In September of 2015, I had the pleasure of connecting with Ellenore Angelidis, the Founder and President of the Board of Open Hearts Big Dreams. Ellenore was the Director of Diversity at Amazon at the time and I was calling as the Director of Partnerships for Emerging Women, an organization that supports the integration of business and feminine power to make a positive impact on the world.  Ellenore and I had carved out time to talk about a potential collaboration between our two organizations. Our conversation quickly moved from corporate partnership to our passions to create a better world. She shared her work focused on creating opportunities for children in Ethiopia and I shared my work focused on empowering women in the developing world. Although a partnership between Amazon and Emerging Women wasn’t the right fit, a bond had been created and we knew we would work together in some capacity. I was honored to be offered a position on the Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund Board and we have collaborated on several projects over the last two years unifying our networks to maximize impact.

So I invite you to join us in this world-changing movement. I urge you to enlist in the tribe of change makers who are making a difference, one connection at a time. Join us in creating a world that is fair, that is founded in compassion, that sees beyond gender, race, religion, and the depths of one’s pocket.

Our vision has the power to equalize, and is built upon the notion that a seven-year-old Ethiopian girl, born into poverty, has the same amount to offer as a Fortune 500 CEO. She is equally worthy of love and joy and belonging. She is equally deserving of the opportunity to contribute to her family, her community, and to help create a better world. That is her universal right. And it belongs to all of us.

Through my work and my connections with leaders like Ellenore, I understand, down to my core, that there is a way out. A new way of being, of working together, of lifting one another up. As women, we are inherently collaborative, compassionate, intuitive, and empathetic. We lead with ours heart and envision ourselves as part of the whole. These values — that I believe will save the world — have been undermined and devalued over the course of history. For our entire history, women across the globe have been told that our superpowers have no place in business, no place in politics — or any position of power.

Well, I say enough! THIS is our time. Our time to come together. Our time to live from a mindset of abundance rather than scarcity. Our time to walk our talk. Our time to lend a hand to someone who is struggling. Our time to fight injustice, to transcend senseless violence, greed, war, and the “us versus them” mentality that is pervasive and toxic.

There IS a way out. But it starts with you and me recognizing that we are all in this together. And, in light of recent events that serve to drive us apart, I am afraid that our time is running out. Let’s come together with the understanding that our vision is only the beginning—that it is our alliance that will bring about change, much more effectively than our independent efforts.

We can do this. We really can. Together.