Secretary Clinton just met with women from an exciting Israeli NGO founded by women to help women from all sectors of society in their economic and social integration into the Israeli mainstream. The group, Svivat Tomechet, which translates into “Supportive Community,” has assisted more than 1,600 women from a cross section of Israeli society with entrepreneurship and business-related programs since it was established in 2003. Two of the women who met the Secretary – one born in Russia, one emigrated from Ethiopia – had completed courses at Svivat Tomechet and now run profitable businesses.
I was asked to moderate the session for the Secretary with this collection of remarkable women. What a thrill! To welcome the Secretary into the room, introduce her to the women, and facilitate a half-hour discussion to brief her on various aspects of women’s empowerment in Israel, including her special interest – microfinance – was a career highlight. The Secretary was engaged and engaging as she asked and interacted with each of her guests, mentioning each participant by name. I was torn between focusing on her uplifting words of support for this group and others like it, and composing my next thought as moderator.
Backed by our Embassy’s experienced Public Affairs team – Ellen, Will, Matty, David, Ziv, Stewart, Andy – as well as the Secretary’s Washington-based Public Affairs team, the event demonstrated the impact of public diplomacy programs.
The session was particularly relevant for me, as I had owned and run a small public relations company before joining the Foreign Service. In this session, I was back with dynamic women of business, hearing the Secretary relate their aspirations and achievements to the work I now do in Embassy Tel Aviv. Full circle in a day. Pretty cool, huh?