Australia Day 1 – A Reflection by Kathy O’Hearn
Kathy O'Hearn, Chief Development and Communications Officer, Vital Voices
Day One at GAP Australia and I heard my favorite new word – flawesome, embracing your flaws while knowing you are still awesome. Love that, I will be using it in at least my next 10 conversations. Thanks to Kia Dowell, CEO of Codeswitch, and one of the Global Ambassadors Program’s mentees, who shared the word as one of her guideposts.
Kia grew up in a welfare dependent rural indigenous community here in Australia. Experiencing abuse at age ten led to a lifelong commitment to the idea that food, shelter and protection are human rights. Pretty inspiring.
Mentee Kia Dowell of Australia
And she is just one of the impressive mentees here, each with a story as fascinating as the next.
Van Anh from Vietnam has two grandchildren, lives in a garden house with seven dogs and is the director of an NGO focused on rights for children and vulnerable people in Vietnam; she wants to inspire a younger generation to help end gender based violence in Vietnam.
Brianne from New Zealand is the founder of Ethique, a company that has created solid beauty bars – a waste-free alternative to the traditional liquid products. And cool fact – she raised $200,000 through crowd-funding to grow her business.
Brianne West with her mentor, Global Ambassador Stacey Kelly Egide
Chaw runs a seafarer recruitment and placement service in Myanmar. She believes she is both an innovator, launching new ideas – and an activator, bringing those ideas forward and overcoming obstacles.
And those are just a few.
The mentors, the Global Ambassadors, were so much fun to meet – and equally as intriguing.
Adi works in Samoa and with 10 other Pacific Island nations selling organically certified coconut oil to major global companies like The Body Shop – empowering rural families through agriculture.
She also sells to Andalou Naturals…and Andalou CEO Stacey Egide is here as a mentor! Stacey has long been an activist entrepreneur creating beauty products with cruelty-free, organic and non-GMO standards. She not only shared that “What I do best is learn from all the mistakes I made,” she also shared a few fabulous Andalou products with all of us.
Global Ambassador Kitty Yung of Hong Kong, mentee Khin Chaw Su Win of Myanmar, and mentee Nguyen Thu Hue of Vietnam
Raegen, the CEO of aden + anais, stayed in her “day job” for three years while she launched her own company making muslin baby swaddles and other baby products. And she just joined forces with Hugh Jackman and Debra Furness to support Hopeland, a new non-profit focused on all children having a loving and permanent family. For her, the nicest part of having a successful company is that she can give back.
And after decades in the news business covering the FBI, working with sources there, it was a special treat to meet Lauren Anderson who spent 29 years inside the FBI working around the world, and oversaw many international terror investigations. She told the story of touring FBI headquarters when she was 11 years old. When she asked the gentleman conducting the tour whether girls could be FBI agents, he said “no, because girls spend all their time painting their nails.” Lauren not only proved that guy dead wrong, she is now making sure no other young girl hears that message. Now retired from the FBI, Lauren works tirelessly investing in women leaders around the world in a million different ways.
The afternoon ended with a stunning journey through Pulitzer Prize winning photographer David Hume Kennerly’s brilliant portfolio across 50 years of U.S. history. I also loved the Holistic Life Map workshop – Zoë Dean-Smith’s wonderful guide to establishing a positive direction in your life. One takeaway – “the attainment of a goal does not always come from the direction you think it should.” Good one!
Can’t wait to see what Day Two brings!
Photo at top: Kathy O’Hearn (bottom right) sightseeing in Sydney with staff and participants before the start of the program