Thursday, June 5, 2008

Stirring It Up @ NCRW

Last night I went to a 90th birthday party for NCRW’s founding president Mariam Chamberlain (pictured here, in blur, being toasted by a current Mariam Chamberlain Fellow). I felt the love, and I waxed nostalgic for my days doing program work for this amazing network.

And now I’m here at the opening plenary of NCRW’s annual conference, in the Kimmel Center just south of Washington Square Park, the conference I used to plan.

The room is packed. NCRW president Linda Basch takes the podium noting that this year, an election year, they are focusing on what they’re calling The Big Five: economic security, education, immigration, violence, and health. She talks about “that pernicious 16” – the 16% of women in corporate officer positions, the 16 women in Congress. (And I just learned that women are also 16% of the military, 16% of police and fire departments, and 16% of law firm partners. Eerie, that same number each time. What up?!)

Catherine Stimpson (aka Kate to friends), Dean of the College of Arts & Sciences at NYU and former NCRW board chair, had emergency dental surgery yesterday but is looking sharp. She’s up there doing the host’s welcome, speaking of this network’s sense of “gritty realism” and “unreasonable hope.” Next comes NCRW Board Chair Eleanor Horne, who reminds the crowd of our need to remind everyone not here that even though a woman ran for prez not all is hunky dory. She asks participants to not just “confer” here these next few days, but to go out and act.

Nicole Mason, Director of Research and Policy Initiatives at NCRW, who I know has been eating breathing and sleeping (or rather, not sleeping) this conference for the last year is last, and now here we go. The next bunch of posts are snippets from the opening plenary, “Stir It Up: Women’s Activism Reframing Political Debates.”

No comments: