As chair of the board, what do you hope to bring to ConnectHER?
I’d like to help ConnectHER further develop the necessary internal structures for our long-term sustainability, from growing our board to having more diverse sources of philanthropic investment and other types of funding. I also think the organization can become more of a household name. We are already well known in some circles, but we can definitely take that to another level.
You have survived two bouts of cancer—an experience that would make many people turn their energy inward and focus their lives on themselves. But you seem to have emerged from this experience even more compassionate and dedicated to making the world better. What’s your secret?
That attitude is ingrained in me from my father and from my culture and religion. Giving back is just what you do. In Arabic we have an expression “shoof tahtik.” That translates as “look below you,” but what it really means is to feel for others who are less fortunate and to give thanks for your blessings. I have a daily practice of using that to cultivate gratitude.
What inspires you most about ConnectHER’s mission?
I think ConnectHER’s “special sauce” is that it helps us understand an important truth: That women and girls may have been overlooked, but we have not been silenced. ConnectHER and its film festival helps shine a light on the stories of women and girls. We say, “Be bold and be brave. We’re here to wrap our arms around you and lift you up.”