I’ve been writing and rewriting this message for over a decade. The heart of it is always the same: collective action drives social transformation. When individuals believe they have found a way to change the world, it’s a powerful force for good. Dining for Women is a way to change the world. And in this world of unprecedented division, Dining for Women is a movement where individual differences are inconsequential and unity and solidarity prevail.
Our movement is building momentum. Over the last year, we’ve carried on a collaborative conversation, leading to the strategic priorities of our 2020 Vision. We all agree that a grassroots nature and culture of intimate, inclusive gatherings of members is our special sauce, as Marsha likes to say. We also believe that in order to amplify our impact, we need to remain innovative and proactive as an organization.
In the new year, the work of the Board of Directors will focus on several areas. We continue to tap into expertise within the highly talented Dining for Women community. We continue to diversify and include voices reflective of all key stakeholders and recognize the importance of men and boys’ education and action in achieving equity for women and girls. We welcome Ambassador Steven Steiner (Ret.), Senior Gender Advisor at the US Institute of Peace, as our first Panel of Experts member. In addition, we have established a new standing board committee for member service oversight.
Strategic partnerships will broaden our impact and raise our voice in the world. Proactive grant investments, in addition to our featured grants, will enable us to fund more long-term, systemic solutions for women and girls. These include supporting capacity and sustainability in the organizations we fund, as well as in our own organization.
Diversifying our revenue stream and securing resources to support our ambitious 2020 Vision will be on top of the Board’s agenda this next year. The generosity of member support for the 2015 13th Month Campaign and the Founders Circle was unparalleled, and sent a strong message to all staff and volunteers that everyone is all in for Dining for Women.
Striving for innovation and broader impact, we need to grow our movement. Borrowing from Hildy Gottlieb’s thinking on building movements, “leadership emerges from within. Anyone can join, simply by committing to take action on behalf of the cause. Once ‘inside’, becoming a leader is self-determined by each individual taking action and contributing.”(1) I find this descriptive of every Dining for Women member I meet. Dining for Women is our opportunity to transform ourselves, to live intentionally with purpose. Inviting others in to create new chapters and join our movement is integral to our culture.
Dining for Women lets us speak with our hearts. Harnessing this collective passion and fortitude is our way to change the world.
As Margaret Mead famously said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.”
We are hundreds of small groups of people now and we are, indeed, changing the world!
1 Stanford Social Innovation Review, July 28, 2015, Hildy Gottlieb, Building Movements Not Organizations