By Carla Meadows, NDG Special Contributor
In the midst of highly publicized domestic violence and sexual harassment charges that often dominate today’s news cycle, Dallas recently helped change the narrative by welcoming a dynamic women’s civic leadership organization to help empower underserved communities in North Texas.
All In Together (AIT) a nonpartisan nonprofit in partnership with acclaimed journalist and female advocate Gretchen Carlson and her Gift of Courage Fund, launched the Gretchen Carlson Leadership Initiative (GCLI) (GCLI) at The Family Place in on Nov. 4.
Dallas was the first stop on a multi-city tour during a yearlong national campaign that will bring civic leadership and advocacy training to thousands of underrepresented women across the country. The focus was on empowering women who have experienced gender-based violence, discrimination or harassment.
GCLI officially kicked off its programming at The Family Place with an inspirational message by Carlson. “We’re serving underserved women who have felt that they did not have a voice on so many issues: domestic violence, sexual harassment, and anything else,” Carlson said. “What I’ve found out is that when you see yourself in those situations, you feel like you don’t have a voice on those issues, and I’d like to let women know that your voice matters.”
Co-Founder and CEO of the All In Together Campaign, Lauren Leader-Chivée led the workshop by educating attendees on political advocacy, relevant government policies and effective civic participation.
Leader-Chivée explained that nationally, there are huge gaps in the political and civic participation of women. Women who have experienced harassment or violence often stay away from political participation entirely.
These newly-launched workshops help give women the tools, resources and tactics to help them raise their voices and influence political change.
Best of all, the program motivates participants to take action on issues that they care about the most by encouraging women to partner with local advocacy organizations around the nation.
In Dallas, the program kicked off with a powerhouse group of civic leaders moderated by The Family Place CEO Paige Flink featuring Dallas Police Chief of Police Renee Hall, Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson, and Dallas Sheriff Lupe Valdez.
The speakers shared stories of perseverance and how they overcame personal challenges in life to get where they are today. The group agreed that they wanted to help ensure that women in North Texas have access to the tools, resources and education they need to have influence and impact on the policies that affect their lives.
Sheriff Valdez relayed her rise to the top, beginning with her own personal experiences with gender-based discrimination as a young law enforcement officer in the 70’s. “There were many times that I wanted to quit,” Valdez said. However, she pressed on and fought her way in a male-dominated profession. Encouraging the women in influencing political change she said, “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu. Get to the table, speak up and use your voice.”