Sunday, June 12, 2011

Champions of Change: White House Panel

As the Obama administration looks to its domestic policy goals, the reality of financial woes and a political stalemate leads it to take a different tact. The White House has organized a series of panel discussions with those they have cited as 'Champions of Change', people who have performed Herculean tasks starting at the grassroots level. On Tuesday, June 7th, Olivia was asked to participate in the New Orleans Panel, joined by 11 others creating social change in unique ways. The round table, held at a convention for volunteer efforts, was led by Melody Barnes and Marta Unquilla, who are involved with the service initiatives of the Obama Administration. According to James, it was incredible to listen to individuals talk about what they are accomplishing, mostly on a shoestring budget. Here's a list of a few of the participants, many of whom were women:

- Liz McCartney, who is rebuilding the 9th ward in NOLA.
- Lan Diep, who is connecting with Vietnamese fisherman for the BP oil spill claims.
- Brenda Krause Eheart, Ph.D. who is building an interesting community housing model in Chicago (retired individuals who pay less rent in exchange for working in the community day care).
- Ivye Allen, Ph.D., who is president of Foundation of the Mid-South, whose mission is economic development in the mid-south.
- Dianna Daley, Director of Centro Compesino, education programs for south Florida.

Other programs included schools in the 9th ward, Muslim community collaborative, Alabama disaster relief, Hispanic community collaboratives. Each panelist was able to connect his or her initiative with the greater good of our nation.
Olivia was the sole participant whose initiative was about the environment and, as the only child, was singled out by Melody Barnes as part of the nation's future. Olivia had the opportunity to address the round table where she discussed her fundraiser, the partnership with Audubon, and putting the 'eco' back in the economy.
Not only did the participants connect with each other, their stories will be shared on the White House web site. Also in attendace at the conference were corporations looking to expand their outreach programs by collaborating with not-for-profits-- a corporate trend that I can truly support.

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