Dallas Women’s Foundation’s 32nd Annual Luncheon on Oct. 20 at the Hilton Anatole — with the theme She Who Dares — raised $1.2 million and was full of surprises. From the presentation of an inspirational video of three local women talking about their careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) to trading cards featuring 33 remarkable women leaders in STEM, the 1,400 attendees were challenged to do more to create greater opportunities for women and girls to lead.
Dr. Hope Jahren, an award-winning scientist, one of TIME Magazine’s Top 100 Influential People, best-selling author of “Lab Girl” and advocate for female equality in STEM, was the keynote speaker whose speech was also streamed to more than 10,000 students at 20 schools throughout Texas.
The luncheon is the foundation’s principal fundraiser in support of its work to advance women’s economic security and leadership in North Texas and to drive positive social and economic change for women and girls through research, advocacy and grant-making.
“We are here today to advance opportunities for women and girls in our community – and beyond,” Lisa Singleton, luncheon co-chair, stated. “We are here to encourage investments that bring hope and possibility to girls who are daring to be leaders.
“There are so many obstacles and challenges that stand in the way of girls pursuing and achieving their goals – especially in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. We are here today to change that – to remove barriers that prevent girls and women from succeeding and leading. Your investment in today’s luncheon success enables Dallas Women’s Foundation to advance opportunities for women and girls – from the classroom to the board room.”
A. Shonn Brown, luncheon co-chair, announced the live-streaming of Jahren’s speech to students, thanks to sponsor Lyda Hill.
“Lyda invests in opportunity and innovation – and she loves supporting more women in science,” she stated. “That’s why she chose to make the very generous gift that is allowing Dr. Jahren’s speech to be seen via live stream by upwards of 10,000 girls and young women at 20 different schools in Texas. Through her generosity, we are creating a ripple effect today that can transform the tomorrows for girls and women in science and in society.”
Brown also announced a matching gift from NexBank, whose president and CEO, John Holt, stated NexBank understands the urgent and immediate need to recognize and celebrate women and their achievements, as well as the need to create more opportunities for women in STEM fields and in every field.
“That’s why we’re offering a matching dollar-for-dollar gift of up to $100,000 to help your contributions go farther,” he stated. “Our hope is that this matching gift will not only encourage support, but also challenge and inspire other Dallas-area businesses to increase their investment in programs that benefit women and girls in our community.”
The campaign garnered more than $80,000 at the end of Oct. 20.
The foundation created and gave each attendee a pack of the STEM trading cards, sponsored by American Airlines. The women scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians featured on the cards demonstrate the impact of women leaders today in the STEM fields – and serve as role models to inspire girls and young women to pursue their dreams.
“Shonn and Lisa together are a force of nature – and not only are they formidable fundraisers, they are two of the strongest and best advocates for our mission. They live it and breathe it – and that’s what has made this luncheon so very special: their commitment…and their families’…to ensuring an equitable society where girls and women are full participants.”
Thompson then greeted the students at the 20 schools watching the live stream and introduced Dr. Jahren.
“Hope Jahren epitomizes She Who Dares. Award-winning scientist, best-selling author, one of TIME’s Top 100 Most Influential People in the world –who also has written more 75 peer reviewed publications, earned three Fulbrights and has three labs named after her at three universities. A geochemist and geobiologist at the University of Oslo, she studies living and fossil organisms and how they are linked to the global environment. In her spare time, her blog #hopejahrensurecanwrite is where she shares her anecdotes about the interactions between men and women in academia. She is a powerful and creative advocate in removing negative stereotypes of women and girls in science.”
Jahren’s speech, The Magic of Roots, Leaves and Everything in Between, focused on how plants are similar to humans.
“Plants are just as alive as we are,” Jahren said.
“I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a scientist,” she recounted.
She showed a day in her life through photos of her lab, and she read an excerpt from her best-selling book, “Lab Girl,” about her early days learning from her father who taught science at a community college. Her fond memories included fixing broken equipment and having free-rein in the lab to learn. It was a poignant and emotional moment as she added that she lost her father last year.
“I never let the opinions of men about my capabilities deter me from my goal, because he best man I knew thought I could do it (be a scientist),” she said.