On June 14, four Hadassah leaders and staff joined over 5,000 women in Washington, DC, for the first ever United State of Women Summit hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls.
The event featured speeches by President Barack Obama and Vice President Jo Biden, a conversation between First Lady Michelle Obama and Oprah, and special guests including Kerry Washington, Amy Poehler, Warren Buffet, Billie Jean King, Gloria Steinem and many more.
The program focused on six issue pillars—Economic Empowerment, Health & Wellness, Educational Opportunity, Violence Against Women, Entrepreneurship & Innovation, and Leadership & Civic Engagement—discussed in plenaries, presentations, and at over a dozen break-out sessions. Watch the summit and read more from Hadassah's attendees.
"Throughout the day, I heard from an overwhelming number of activists, academics, journalists, public officials, and business leaders about how far women have come but how much further there is to go," said Rebecca Young, Richmond Chapter President and a Hadassah Leadership Fellow (HLF) alumna. "We were reminded that together, we can effectuate change in the issues facing women, family, and children today. Being in a room full of like-minded women reminded me that making these changes is doable!"
"I've been interested in the White House Council on Women and Girls ever since Sarah Hurwitz, Senior Advisor and a speechwriter for the First Lady, spoke at a Hadassah Greater Washington Opening meeting," said Lisa Zelermyer, Executive Director of Hadassah Greater Washington. "I sat in on the solution session called Economic Opportunity: Leading on Leave: Solutions to Increasing Women's Workplace Participation that featured a panel of progressive employers and lawmakers who promote the economic support of women (and men) who take leave for family or personal reasons. The takeaway for me was that women should not have to make a decision between work and family and should not have to ‘lean in' because employers should offer flexible solutions that allow for a work/life balance."
Melanie Topper, also an HLF alumnus, attend the Innovations that Create Social Impact session. "The topic has been of interest to me ever since my HLF project," Topper said. "I heard from a panel of incredibly accomplished women. Mikaila Ulmer started Me & the Bees Lemonade when she was only 4 years old! She is now 11, and every purchase of lemonade helps save honeybees because she donates a portion of the profits to local and international organizations."
"I was so inspired to hear Dr. Carol Brown, an oncologist from Memorial Sloan Kettering, tell a room of thousands about the need to include more women in clinical trials," said Lauren Katz, Hadassah's Domestic Policy Associate. "Her statements show the real and practical implications of Hadassah's advocacy for gender equity in medicine. The sessions on caregiving, and at the Department of Health and Human Services the following day, provided me with invaluable networking opportunities and policy updates to support our work convening the Coalition for Women's Health Equity."
"I am proud that Hadassah has been a leader and ally in many of the topics addressed," Topper said. "Hadassah has been around longer than women have been able to vote in the United States, and we continue to be on the correct side of history on issues impacting women, children, and families. I'm proud to be a part!"