Iris Krasnow, Rebecca Kahlenberg, Alisa Smedly, Azizah al-Hibri and Salma Hasan Ali at the MoverMom’s Inspirational Luncheon.
Three speakers shared their stories of challenges, life experiences and personal successes at the MoverMoms’ third annual “Inspiration Day.” The April 27 event, held at the River Falls Clubhouse was attended by about 60 women who are a combination of MoverMoms’ participants along with family and friends.
“We all need to feel connected, to feel inspired, to feel a sense of community,” said MoverMoms Chief Inspiration Officer Salma Hasan Ali. “Nothing does this better than sharing personal stories of vulnerability and resilience.”
The first speaker, Dr. Azizah al-Hibri is a professor emeritus of the University of Richmond Law School and founder and chair of Karamah: Muslim Women Lawyers for Human Rights. The Fulbright Scholar was appointed by President Obama to be a commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. She told the story of her personal and professional challenges and how her strong family background and faith sustained her.
The second speaker, Alisa Smedley shared her story of how she rose above a difficult family history, including having had several family members incarcerated. Smedley is currently re-entry employment coordinator for the One Stop Career Center inside Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Boyds, Md. She is also the founder of Recover Your Harvest, a program for the re-entry and recovery community. Determined to rise above her family history, she won a full scholarship to Howard University and now, using her own difficulties as her motivation she is making life easier for many inmates. She also discussed the value of personal friendships and how important they are for providing support.
Author Iris Krasnow spoke about personal challenges and the power of female connections. She is from a family of Holocaust survivors — and even though they had endured unimaginable experiences, they were able to give her positive and inspiring messages. Krasnow is the author of “Surrendering to Motherhood,” the New York Times bestseller “Surrendering to Marriage,” “Surrendering to Yourself,” “I Am My Mother's Daughter,” “The Secret Lives of Wives” and her latest book, “Sex After ... Women Share How Intimacy Changes as Life Changes.” She is also a professor and academic director of the Washington Journalism Semester at American University.
MoverMom Ann Cochran felt fortunate to be able to attend Inspiration Day. She said, “Each of the speakers was so different from the others, yet they all spoke about an issue with a parent. Hearing them tell their personal stories touched me deeply, and made their accomplishments all the more impressive. The truth they confirmed was that everyone has a unique story, and some pain to work through. Even if we have insecurities, we can still have an impact on our world, if not the community and the greater world. This is the MoverMoms goal, for each of us to make a difference when, how and where we can, and not to fall into a bad habit of belittling our own efforts.”
Ann Beuchart Massey, also a MoverMom, went with her sister to spend time with her as well as to hear about the experiences and perspectives of the three women who successfully overcame extremely challenging cultural and familial backgrounds. “All three were inspirational to me and humbling,” she said.
“The speakers were generous with sharing their life experiences. So many D.C. events have a high-power feel, but this was very warm and intimate,” said Salma Hasan Ali. “People left with the important message that they are not alone and that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It gave the attendees a couple of hours to pause from their busy lives, listen to inspiring women, and feel replenished.”
Whole Foods donated food for the luncheon. Krasnow participated in a book signing held by Politics and Prose and products from El Salvador, including pottery and sandals were sold.
MoverMoms was co-founded by Bethesda resident Rebecca Kahlenberg and Cabin John resident Heidi Bumpers in 2007. The 501 (c) (3) nonprofit has grown to more than 200 members. Some of their service projects include collecting “Treats for the Troops,” visiting shelters to talk with residents about current events, politics, sports, health and more, volunteering at the Montgomery County Correctional Center, as well as traveling to El Salvador for a cultural exchange and to support families and children in need. When a crisis occurs, they provide everything from toiletries to food and more. They aim to model the importance of service for children, and to involve children in many of their projects. And their philosophy is that if everyone works together, the impact is greater than each person makes on his or her own. As Kahlenberg said, “If you take all the drops in the bucket and add them together, you can make a wave of positive difference in the community.”
To learn more about MoverMoms, to join or to donate, check their website at www.movermoms.com.