#Leadership: #WhatsPossible at Omega Institute


Omega Institute’s annual Women and Power Conference, held September 21-23 at their campus in Rhinebeck, New York, coincided this year with the gala launch of the Omega Women’s Leadership Center.

Talk about TedTalks on euphoria with fist-pumping and dancing! Audience members from around the world clapped, teared up and cheered loudly as Eve Ensler, Sally Field, Isabel Allende, Majora Carter, Luong Ong, Sister Joan Chittister, Pat Mitchell, Cecile Richards and many other global thought leaders displayed light bulb-worthy aha moments about their creative activism, visionary-thinking and out-of-the-box bravery in a time of kinetic global change.

Interstitial buzz among participants created new networks and project liaisons across the weekend. Beyond spectatorship, that’s the Omega experience in long-term resonance: an opportunity for women to scale up their visions, broadcast their tactics and bolster their leadership know-how. Operating from this vision of inclusion, living in Omega-town for a few days generates a sustainable wind farm of “why not dream it up?” possibilities. And when global women changemakers inhabit yes-utopia, well, let’s just say we need to invent a new word for “inspiration,” because it barely describes the atmosphere. Clearly, definitions of women’s leadership are changing, with a raucous, amplified soundtrack.

Twitterverse activity broadcast #leadership and #whatspossible hashtags during the events…My unexpected favorite quotable? From Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine nun who has taken on the Vatican. “Change is a process, not an event”: a reminder to changemakers about resilience over the long haul. Here are several other gems from smartphones covering the event:

Highlights of the conference included Majora Carter’s inroads as an unexpected urban green visionary in the South Bronx, overcoming her own encounters with “imposter syndrome.” A key to women’s leadership, she notes, is the realization that the guys in charge are often making it up as they go along. With the revelation that her organization, Sustainable South Bronx, garnered a Green Jobs Stimulus Grant of 50 million from the Obama administration, in an area of the world written off by most, the results are literally groundbreaking, if not miraculous. Her takeaway quote? “Listen to the voices that are telling you that you are love. It’s your duty to share that.”

Cecile Richards, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood, weighed in after a year of unprecedented controversy for women’s healthcare with the announcement, “I am not afraid of anything.” Instead of caving into Far Right attacks, Richards stepped up to a new level of leadership, galvanized by a membership expansion to 6 million, with women’s stories and passion redefining health care activism via social media. Women and men collectively stood up for Planned Parenthood in 2012, communicating and organizing with lightning speed online, powerfully influencing mainstream spin. (Deanna Zandt’s Tumblr blog, Planned Parenthood Saved Me: one innovative example.)

A gala party and fundraiser for the Omega Women’s Leadership Center launched in percussive rainstorm on Saturday, raising over $200,000. Shorthand for this level of success? Stay tuned for more leaders. This is #whatspossible.

Eve Ensler’s drumbeat call for 1 Billion Rising to End Violence Against Girls and Women on V-Day 2013 also debuted during the weekend. As Eve notes, “if imagination is a muscle then that is the muscle we must be exercising”…So get ready to imagine a world where women and girls can be free to lead without fear of violence. Watch the incredible video, then share it far and wide! See you on V-Day!

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