An American Suffragist Hero? Really, What Does That Even Mean?

18 Aug

In answer to a Facebook question I recently posed, my close friend Bella told me one of her heroes was Alice Paul.  Alice Paul?  Who is this woman I asked myself &  today I decided to do some research!  So to my very big surprise, this VERY date, August 18, 2010 marks 90 years since Alice Paul forever assisted in changing the U.S. Constitution.

Alice Stokes Paul was an American suffragist leader. (For those of you like me the definition of suffrage is the right to vote, esp. in a political election)  Along with her close friend Lucy Burns and others, she led a successful campaign for women’s suffrage that resulted in the passage of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1920.

Needless to say, the efforts of Ms. Paul to see that all women have the right to vote did not come easily.  While she picketed for women’s suffrage  she & several others were arrested on the trumped up charge of “obstructing traffic,” and were jailed when they refused to pay the imposed fine.   At one point prison officials removed Paul to a sanitarium in hopes of getting her declared insane.  When news of the prison conditions and hunger strikes became known, the press, some politicians, and the public began demanding the women’s release; sympathy for the prisoners brought many to support the cause of women’s suffrage. 

It was upon her release from prison that Alice Paul rode the surge of goodwill from those who came to her side during her prison stay into victory. 

Bella thank you for sharing your hero with me!  I love Ms. Alice Paul for standing by her conviction that all people are equal! 

To learn more about Ms. Paul’s journey go to

"I never doubted that equal rights was the right direction. Most reforms, most problems are complicated. But to me there is nothing complicated about ordinary equality." -Alice Stokes Paul

Hafsat Abiola-Costello: A World Democracy Champion Like Martin Luther King Jr., Corazon Aquino, & Nelson Mandela

16 Aug

Hafsat Abiola-Costello is a human rights, democracy activist and day 4’s hero of  Scott Lazerson’s A Hero A Day.

Mrs. Abiola-Costello comes from a family of dedicated Pan-Africanists in Nigeria. Her father, M.K.O. Abiola, won the Presidential election held in Nigeria in 1993 but served out his term in solitary confinement, incarcerated by the military. He died in prison, on the eve of his release. Her mother, Kudirat, was a democracy leader who organized major strikes, marches, and fought assiduously against the military. In 1996, she was assassinated in the streets of Lagos.

To continue the legacy left by her parents, Ms. Abiola founded and directs an organization called the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy (KIND), which seeks to strengthen civil society and promote democracy in Nigeria.

Ms. Abiola is also involved in the global movement to empower youth and women and to strengthen democracy. She was a founding member of the State of the World Forum’s Emerging Leaders Program and Global Youth Connect. Currently, she is a Fetzer Fellow and serves on the Boards of Youth Employment Summit, Educate Girls Globally, Women’s Learning Partnership, Hewlett Packard’s World e-Inclusion Project, and the Global Security Institute.

Ms. Abiola holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. Honors received include the Youth Peace and Justice Award from the Cambridge Peace Commission in 1997, the State of the World Forum Changemaker Award in 1998, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development’s “Woman to Watch for” Award in 1999, the World Economic Forum’s Global Leader of Tomorrow Award in 2000, and the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation Global Award in 2001.

To learn more about Mrs. Abiola-Costello’s inspiring work please go to

Hafsat Abiola-Costello is Executive Director of the Kudirat Initiative of Democracy, an NGO that works to strengthen & empower women throughout Africa by providing leadership training

Kalyanee Mam: Day 3′s Hero A Day

16 Aug

As a lawyer and filmmaker, Kalyanee Mam has worked on human rights issues in various countries, including Cambodia, China, South Africa, Mozambique and Iraq. Mam’s past work has included assisting refugees in South Africa, documenting the atrocities committed against women during the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, and working as a lawyer in Mozambique and Iraq. Mam’s feature-length documentary film, Between Earth & Sky, followed the hopes and struggles of four young Iraqis living in Jordan, Syria and Egypt.  You can see a trailer of the film at

Mam and her family fled war-torn Cambodia and resettled in the U.S. in 1981. Mam is a graduate of Yale University and UCLA Law School.

 Follow Kalyanee’s current work at

Kalyanee recently served as Director of Photography and Associate Producer for INSIDE JOB, a film about the global financial crisis, which premiered at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival

A Hero A Day: Day 2 — Paul Link

14 Aug

The Spill Isn’t Over for Wildlife

Don’t bother telling Paul Link the oil in the Gulf of Mexico has vanished. He knows better. Three days a week, Link, who works with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, heads out into the marshes and barrier islands near Hopedale, Louisiana, to rescue oiled birds. Link says the oil in the water has certainly changed consistencies, from thick rafts seen early in the disaster to lighter sheens that may be originating from subsea or suspended oil. But it’s these sheens that are now wreaking havoc on birds in the Gulf. “The birds do not appear to be oiled from a distance but are covered with a clear-coat-like varnish,” Link says. “They are unable to fly and lose most of their buoyancy.” There have been a couple of days in the past two weeks when Link and his team picked up fifty-plus live oiled birds and hundreds of carcasses.

Paul Link rescues an oiled juvenile laughing gull (Photo by John Gardner)


As we know treasured wildlife and wild places have been devastated by the BP oil spill. An estimated 186 million gallons have poured into the Gulf of Mexico impacting dolphins, brown pelicans, as well as threatened and endangered sea turtles. Some animals have been found dead. Others have been found dying or coated in the toxic oil that has polluted extensive areas of their habitat.   If you would like to donate & support Paul Link in his wildlife crusade please visit the National Wildlife Federation:

A Hero A Day

13 Aug

After recently asking the question, ” Who Are Your Heroes?” on my Facebook account I was sad to see only a handful of my over 1,000 friends answer.  However it has come to me that the world seldom hears of heroes because their stories are often happening in remote parts of the world. 

So here I go, sharing about heroes of this century…

Sima Wali is a native of Afghanistan.  Sima heads Refugee Women in Development, an international non-profit focusing on women in conflict, post-conflict reintegration and human rights.  She was an advisor at the UN Peace Talks on Afghanistan in 2001, helping to ensure that women were represented in the post-Taliban government and were equal beneficiaries of Western aid.  Sima continues to work in Afghanistan and refugee camps in Pakistan to strengthen human rights, empower women, and construct democratic institutions in the wake of decades of violent conflict.   To learn more about Sima & her work please visit:

Sima Wali, President & CEO of Refugee Women in Development (RefWID), Inc

Katie Couric’s Global Cancer Campaign

24 Jul
Couric has recently broadened her campaign beyond

Loving The Discussion on Philanthropy w/ Katie Couric

colon cancer (her husband died of colon cancer in 1998) , told the Global Forum audience in South Africa during the World Cup that cancer has become “an equal opportunity disease.” While developed countries once accounted for 80% of the world’s cancer cases, developing countries now account for more than half. And by the end of the decade, Couric said, two-thirds of cancer cases will belong to the developing world.No place is hit harder than Africa, which will get a disproportionate share of the killer disease. While positive trends in Africa — like urbanization and greater longevity — lift cancer rates here, the continent is ill-eqipped to deal with the problem. In Africa, Couric says, for every 10 people who are diagnosed with cancer every year, eight people die!!!!

When I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2004 I had no idea what that even meant — today I am happy to say I am cancer free & that now there is no time like the present to become informed & do routine check-ups, visit your doctor regularly & hey freakn start thinking about what you eat — we truly ARE what we eat!

And for the record, I have a crush on Katie 🙂


22 Feb

I am beyond happy that this past Friday, Feb 19th we got the final paperwork into U.S. Immigration to have Menelick & Nesty (who are in Haiti) reunited with their political refugee father Ernst Montfleury living here in Orem, Utah!!

This reuniting is going to be *AMAZING*!!

Thank you Ken Murdock, Kristen Murdock, Monica Ord, & Eric Klein and Lorraine Clark!!