THANK YOU FOR THE SUCCESS OF THE 2013 CARE NATIONAL CONFERENCE & INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATION
"You are here to speak truth to power. You have the opportunity to be part of something larger than yourselves … you have the chance to help change the world," said Dr. Helene Gayle, CARE’s President and CEO, to hundreds of CARE supporters, partners and staff at the National Conference & International Women’s Day Celebration in Washington, D.C.
The annual conference brought together more than 300 CARE Action Network members, CARE donors and supporters from 37 states and the District of Columbia to learn about the organization’s efforts to alleviate global poverty, meet like-minded activists, discover ways to advocate for social change and meet with elected officials to discuss key issues. The conference’s theme was "Make Your Impact" – and the event was filled with inspiring stories of how committed individuals can and do make a difference by empowering women and girls to change their lives, communities and countries.
The stories of CARE, our supporters and the 83 million people we serve in 84 countries around the world were vibrant threads that connected the many activities of the conference, which took place from March 5-7, 2013. The conference began the evening of March 5 with a diplomatic reception held by His Excellency François Delattre, the Ambassador of France. The reception featured a partial screening of the documentary Girl Rising, which tells the powerful and unforgettable stories of nine girls in nine countries. The film demonstrates how change truly begins with one person. After the film, Dr. Gayle led a discussion that featured Martha Adams, one of the film’s producers.
Bright and early the next morning, attendees began training for the conference’s signature activity: talking to their representatives and senators on Capitol Hill. Former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist addressed the group at breakfast, encouraging each person to tell their own story about who they are and what motivates them.
"Your elected officials are totally dependent on the narrative you deliver," Frist said. "That’s the impact you have."
After breakfast, participants had their choice of four different training sessions, which covered topics ranging from storytelling and media to advocacy and a panel discussion of CARE’s life-changing programs. Sessions featured a variety of CARE staff from around the world – including Egypt and Sri Lanka – as well as local and national experts.
"When you put your voices out there, there may be consequences. But if you don’t, you risk being inconsequential," said Alyssa Best, East Coast Manager of the nonprofit the OpEd Project.
The afternoon was filled with additional training sessions tailored to helping CARE supporters speak confidently to their elected officials about international aid and development challenges. Participants learned more about the two critical issues they’d be discussing on Capitol Hill the following day: preservation of the foreign aid budget and bringing an end to gender-based violence.
At dinner, the group heard from award-winning CNN reporter Dana Bash, who echoed a theme spoken by many throughout the day: your stories matter.
"To do good, our representatives need the voices of people like you," Bash said.
That evening also featured the presentation of the annual "I Am Powerful" award, which went to Paige Miller of Alabama for her efforts to raise awareness of CARE’s work to her state’s elected officials. The award is given to a person who exemplifies the organization’s mission to empower women and girls to change the world. Miller has attended CARE’s conference since 2009.
The next morning – Thursday, March 7 – after a breakfast pep talk by retired Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, 237 CARE supporters boarded buses to Capitol Hill. Braving the frigid temperatures, conference-goers met with 194 Congressional offices. During meetings that lasting an average of 30 minutes, advocates pressed their elected officials for action on two key points:
- Preservation of the International Affairs budget, which helps CARE fight poverty through strong, smart investments, and
- Signing of a bipartisan letter to Secretary of State John Kerry, urging him to support the implementation of the U.S. Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-Based Violence Globally.
Although she had to leave for the airport to catch a flight back to Alabama immediately after her last congressional meeting, "I Am Powerful" award winner Paige Miller received good news before getting on her plane.
"I received an e-mail from (CARE Field Coordinator) Terriah Proechel that informed me that, based on the meeting that our group had with her just a few hours before, my representative – Congresswoman Terri Sewell – had already signed on to the letter to Secretary Kerry asking him to make gender-based violence a priority globally," Miller explained.
Today, conference participants are back at home and have returned to their various jobs across the country. But, during their time in Washington, they made their voices heard. They told their personal stories and expressed their support for women’s empowerment and an end to poverty. We at CARE are proud to partner with them – and thousands of others around the United States – for a better, more hopeful world.
DOWNLOAD PRESENTATIONS FROM THIS YEAR'S CONFERENCE