Archive for January 2012 | Monthly archive page
Eco Hour Blog – January Speaker Suzanne Ehlers, President and CEO of Population Action International
By Terrie Clifford
The impact of climate change on the developing world is great and it disproportionately affects women. That’s the message Suzanne Ehlers, President and CEO of Population Action International brought to DC Eco Women’s January Eco-Hour. ‘Two-thirds of all market goods in the world are physically carried there by women. Ninety percent of the world’s rice is grown by women. If a woman has to go farther for water due to climate change she is going to encounter more danger. Women in the developing world don’t have time to go to a family planning clinic one day and a climate change meeting the next. They are extremely busy making ends meet’ Ehlers said. Her organization connects women’s reproductive choices to environmental sustainability.
Ehlers realizes that parts of her mission can be interpreted as controversial. ‘The language around what we do is important because of the abortion debate and we pay close attention to it. Sometimes a conversation about women’s reproductive choices is not an easy one to have but it’s impossible not to discuss it’, she said. Population Action International is about a whole range of reproductive choices, according Ehlers. ‘Our model is totally demand driven. There are 215 million women in developing countries who wish they had a pill or an IUD to space their children’s births. I’ve met 19 year-old women on their fourth pregnancy. Some people wonder why these women are not working or contributing more to their communities. It’s because they can’t find a pill pack to save their lives.’ She shared her organization’s belief that increasing voluntary action to contraception saves women’s lives and gives them an opportunity to improve the futures of their families.
Ehlers is a busy mother in addition to her executive position. She recounted being hired at PAI while pregnant. Proof, she notes ‘that you can still grow a family and have serious professional ambition. ‘Her dedication to life of pursuing women’s justice came through a series of ‘defining moments’. On her first paid job at a landscaping company in her native Texas, she operated a forklift and male customers drove away rather than allow her to load their trucks. Later in her youth, she played the part of Jesus in a religious passion play which sent some male members of the congregation out of the church.
She urged the Eco Women’s audience to determine some of their own defining moments in thinking about their careers. ‘Catalogue your stories, she advised. ‘Figure out what from your past got you where you are today and share that. Force yourself to raise your hand in a meeting and make an intervention. Take the mike. Network like crazy. Get on policy makers radar screens.’
‘Keep an open channel, she said. The idea that you can always connect the dots in your career is b.s. Take a chance, try something new. Temp work is not a dead end. I got my job at the Wallace Foundation through a temp agency. I started as a very proud executive assistant.’ The temp job led her to become an Associate Program Officer at the Wallace Global Fund where she broke new ground in the fields of sustainable forestry and the reform of international financial institutions. The position also allowed her to shape the early foundation for philanthropic engagement on climate change. She recommends a book about women’s leadership: How Remarkable Women Lead: The Breakthrough Model for Work and Life by Joanna Barsh, Susie Cranston and Geoffrey Lewis.
Ehlers final piece of advice? ‘Even if you are not in charge you are leading in different realms. There is no other way to get to greatness if you don’t aspire to it. Start aspiring today.’
You’re on an airplane, you’re going on a date, you’re in an interview, you’re even in the proverbial elevator and someone asks you: “So, what do you do?”
It’s time for your elevator pitch! First of all – know your audience. Who are you talking to and what is most interesting to them? Secondly, know yourself and what you can bring to the table. Your pitch may vary if you’re looking for a job or telling people about your organization, but these basics will apply.
If you’re job searching, Idealist suggests focusing your 30 seconds on answering three questions:
1. Who are you? Make sure to clearly state your name and mention what sets you apart.
2. What are you looking for and why? Have a good idea of what you’re looking for whether it is an internship, job, or fellowship. The more specific the better.
3. Do you have a specific outcome? If it’s appropriate, asking for a specific outcome can be helpful such as an informational interview or advice on your search. The more open-ended the request, the easier it will be to continue the conversation.
Whether you’re prepping an elevator speech for your organization or in your job search, it can help to craft a “story” to tie these elements together. Remember to know your audience (and what matters most to them) and know what you can bring to the table!
Resources to Perfect Your Pitch
- Three Tips for Perfecting Your Personal Elevator Pitch (Harvard Business Review)
- 5 Tips for an Elevator Pitch that Gets Results (Forbes)
- Preparing Your Elevator Speech (PDF) (Pepperdine University)
By Lisa Seyfried
This month’s EcoHour on January 17th features Suzanne Ehlers, the President and CEO of Population Action International (PAI). PAI is leading the charge on family planning, advocating for women and families to have access to contraception in order to improve their health, reduce poverty and protect their environment. Read her full biography on our speaker page.
Population Action International’s work on climate change takes a different approach than other organizations’ approaches. Their focus is on the role that women, as family planners, play in their community’s adaptation to climate change. According to the Population Action International (PAI), ‘[w]hen women are empowered to plan and space their children, they are better able to adapt to climate change and ensure the survival of their families.’
The idea is that reducing population growth will lead to less impact on the planet and less strain on women. Geographic locations that will be most affected by climate change in the future are generally the same areas that will see rapid population growth in the future as well. A map of this trend is available on PAI’s website. The goal of Population Action International’s work is to empower women and to address climate adaptation strategies.
PAI does this by highlighting the need for reproductive justice. Global women’s rights advocacy often centers on the need for family planning. PAI takes that one step further and links family planning to environmental sustainability. Family planning has a huge impact on resource distribution and use. By highlighting the need for this, PAI brings attention to the role that women can play in reducing the impact of climate change.
PAI not only works to produce educational materials on the subject (and they have a lot of very informative articles, briefs, and blog posts!), but also advocates for these policies. Their newest advocacy guide, Weathering Change, is a film that documents how family planning, girls’ education, sustainable agriculture and environmental conservation interact. Understanding the intersection of these four elements means understanding that ‘women are important agents of change in addressing climate change challenges.’
PAI also provides grants to reproductive health organizations in countries such as Kenya, Nepal, Malawi and Ethiopia to further promote the inclusion of gender considerations and population’s impact on climate change in national and international policy plans.
Denise is running our financial planning workshop on Wednesday, January 25.
About Denise Bump
Denise Bump is a Financial Advisor and partnerof Bump & Associates, a platinum financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. in Washington DC. She has been in her current position since 2002 and has been with Ameriprise Financial since 2000.
As a financial advisor focusing on working with professionals, Denise works with her clients to design a personal financial plan based on their life goals and aligned with their values. This strategy focuses on helping them become more confident about managing their financial objectives. It is designed to provide solutions to both your everyday and long-term financial questions, and is personalized to meet the needs of high net worth individuals and small business owners. As a team, she and her clients continually monitor progress towards financial goals and update their plans based on changes in market conditions and individual situations.
Denise and the Bump & Associates team believe that education is empowerment. They strive to educate their clients to make knowledgeable decisions about their financial life. The clients in their practice have access to the necessary information to help them move toward their financial goals. Bump & Associates also believes in contributing to their community and offering opportunities for their clients to join them in community events.
Bump & Associates was identified by The National Association of Board Certified Advisory Practices (NABCAP) as a “top advisory practice” in the Washington, DC-area list of top advisors as announced in the September 9, 2011 edition of the Washington Business Journal.*
- Women’s Information Network, Advisory Board member, Washington, DC
- Whitman Walker Clinic LSP, Community Advisory Board member, Washington, DC
- The DC Center, Board Member, Washington, DC
- William James Foundation, Sustainable Business Contest Judge, Washington, DC
*The NABCAP Premier Advisor (“Program”) research was conducted from April to August 2011. Fewer than three and a half percent of financial advisors in the areareceived the recognition. Advisors were evaluated based on twentycategories, including customer service model, experience, credentials,compliance record and other criteria. A financial advisor’s final ranking maynot represent a particular client experience. The National Association of BoardCertified Advisory Practices, manages the Program, but does not endorselisted financial advisors. Working with this financial advisor is not a guaranteeof future financial success. Investors should conduct their own evaluation of afinancial professional. For details go to:http://nabcap.org/about-methodology.cfm
The following is a guest post by EcoWoman Cathy Collentine
We have all likely heard about carbon footprints and maybe even calculated our own, but what about all those other “footprints” that our everyday lives leave-could we live with no impact?
That is the goal of self proclaimed “No Impact Man,” Colin Bevan, a New Yorker in Manhattan who embarks with his wife, 2 year old daughter and their dog on a year long journey towards living off the grid-no electricity, no refrigerator, TV, taxis, subway, elevators and living a lifestyle bringing them closer to each other and to the city where they have lived and worked for years, but hadn’t experienced until they started to look at it differently.
DC Ecowomen joined together at the house of our gracious host to watch the film and it got us thinking about the different choices that we make and the conveniences that we so often take for granted without thinking of the effect they have on our communities and our world. Take trash-that was talked about in the movie because they were trying to produce no trash-no takeout containers, disposable water bottles or plastic bags-not even disposable diapers, which Americans throw into our landfills at a rate of 49 million a day, the 3rd largest source of trash. For so many of us our trash piles up (the average American produces 4.6 pounds of trash a day, roughly 17,000 pounds a year), we lug it to the curb and then we forget about it. But where does it go, and who does it impact? The movie made us think that in our disposable culture of single serving and use products, it’s not hard to take a few simple steps to reduce our trash-by bringing our own bottles, silverware and reusable bags, but also by looking at each piece of packaging, each thing we toss and trying to find a way to reuse it or to buy the product that has the least packaging possible or buy new or used items that come without packaging.
This film explored what one family does when they don’t have lights or a TV anymore, they buy all their food at the farmers market, and they cook all their own meals and they were more engaged- in conversation, volunteering, getting to know their farmers and neighbors and their food. The individual actions they took engaged them and their community in this project to live without an impact, making new friends along the way. The community they built was of people they felt accountable to, people that made them realize how interconnected the earth is and that our trash, our waste, our impact has an effect on our community.
We parted ways that evening feeling like we could all play a part in making this world a better place. As “No Impact Man” emphasized, the most radical political action that we can take is to be an optimist-so we will continue to grow positively as a community of Ecowomen and build our neighborhood and our city with our impacts in mind.