Women Aware: From Image to Action Event CoordinatorBy: Elaine Lichterman
Colorado's television journalist and filmmaker, Tamara Banks, received an Emmy Award for her sensitive and informative television documentary, “The Long Journey Home” about slavery and the abolitionists who endanger their lives to free the enslaved. This announcement last month definitely raised greater awareness throughout Colorado of the ongoing worldwide acts of genocide, violence and terror and those who endeavor to make a difference in the lives of others.
On Sunday Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to noon at BMH-BJ Congregation, 560 S. Monaco Parkway in Denver, Tamara Banks, will join a panel of six extraordinary human rights activists for "Women Aware: From Image to Action." This inspiring exhibition and conversation of photographs, paintings, and artwork will produce awareness, stimulate questions, and action, which will bring together Colorado women to connect, share and learn about global issues.
Banks, a television documentary journalist, filmmaker, guest speaker, past President for the Colorado Association of Black Journalists, and current host of PBS, KBDI-TV’s “Studio 12,” and Channel 8’s “Issues and Options” shows, applies her motto, “one person can make a difference,” combines 20 years of journalism and work as a Mayoral appointee to evoke social change through media and engagement. Her vast experience includes reporting on television and radio, publishing articles, and traveling to tell fair and balanced stories about people of color. After a viewing of the Emmy winning documentary, Banks will share anecdotes of her travels to Southern Sudan alongside remarkable champions for freedom.
Motivated by the tireless actions of young students representing " Change the World - It Just Takes Cents," the BMH-BH Congregation Women's League joined forces with the student led movement, local women activists and artists to endorse and support efforts to motivate social action. Women Aware: From Image to Action presenters are prominent women professionals, academics, artists, and lay leaders with whom to dialogue with, and learn from their experiences. Each will stir hearts with stories of their individual efforts to stand up for the rights of every person by publically denouncing genocide, slavery and terror. The program promises to bring laughter, tears, connections, and unified strength of purpose.
Erin Breeze, the recently appointed Executive Director of Seeking Common Ground will moderate the panel discussion and Q&A session. As director, educator and activist, she directed the flagship Building Bridges for Peace program – a yearlong peace building and leadership development initiative for American, Israeli and Palestinian teens. She also oversaw the development of SCG’s international peace education programs - the “International Participant Encounter and Community Engagement Program,” serving teens throughout the Denver metro area and Badlands National Park region of South Dakota. Breeze has a special interest in the role women and other traditionally disenfranchised groups play in efforts to resolve conflict. “I feel gratified to be working to empower young women and men with the leadership, communication, and peace building skills they need to become partners in pursuing peace at home and abroad.”
Pastor Heidi McGinness is an articulate and passionate Presbyterian Minister who left Germany as a young girl, where she had the misfortune of witnessing the results of hate and the horrors of war and its debilitating aftermath. Six trips to war-torn Sudan with the human rights organization, Christian Solidarity International (CSI), catapulted her into a modern-day abolitionist and defender of victims of slavery, genocide and persecution. Heidi has been personally present to record the liberation of over 1,300 men, women and children from slavery, to deliver tons of medicine and grain, thousands of survival kits, and spiritual support to victims. As Outreach Director for CSI-USA, she advocates, fundraises and shares gripping eyewitness accounts of the Sudanese people’s suffering during this 21st Century genocide. Fondly known as “Pastor Heidi” she has been extensively profiled by the media and is the recipient of numerous awards for her dedication to freedom and justice.
Hazel Melmed, born, raised and educated in South Africa, immigrated with husband, Herzl, in 1965 to Tel Aviv, Israel where Ari and Dana were born, and moved later with third child, Keri, to Safed. While living in Israel Melmed’s community service and social action activities were set in motion. In 1976 the family relocated to Denver where she engaged in communal affairs serving on various Boards, including the BMH-BJ and Allied Jewish Apartments. As co-founder of MDS Counseling Services of Colorado, she continues her Denver based Psychotherapy Family Practice. During the first Intefada, Melmed, Susan Heitler, Joan Baronberg, and Herzl created ActionIsrael. This group attracted concerned Christians and Jews who wanted to do something to support Israel, inform the public about Israel, raise awareness of Israel's struggles resulting from the ongoing terror attacks on civilians, organize help for the victims and the Israeli economy. Hazel’s passion for Israel, commitment to educating others about Israel, and countless volunteer hours dedicated to the cause, locally and in Israel, is infectious, motivating positive support and action throughout Colorado’s broad and diverse community
Izabela Lundberg is, first and foremost, a humanitarian and human rights advocate. Originating from the former Yugoslavia, Lundberg is a survivor of the Balkan War. Her personal experiences have led her to become an example of strength and resilience as an educator and organizer, working with refugees and survivors, addressing issues ranging from bullying to human rights abuse to genocide, from more than 60 conflict regions. With a focus on rehabilitation, recovery, reintegration into society and self fulfillment, Lundberg reaches out to the hearts of people not just from her own experiential life, but through the eyes of a photographer, with the mind of a philosopher, and the heart of a poet.
Dr. Beverly Schoninger’s career path began as an elementary and pre-school teacher who later received an M.A. in Counseling Psychology from U.N.C. & a Ph.D. in Psychology from the Union Institute. Today she is an EMDR facilitator and an EMDRIA consultant, working with other therapists to achieve mastery. She is highly trained and experienced in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as Grief Therapy, Critical Incidence Stress Management and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). As a Licensed Professional Counselor since 1991 working with children, adults, couples, families and groups. Schoninger also convenes a private practice, counseling clients with a wide range of difficulties, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, anxiety, depression, relationship and grief and loss issues. On a personal level, Beverly has raised four children. Colorado has been her home for over 27 years
The youngest panelist is 13 year old student activist, Dani Lange, representing “Change the World - It Just Takes Cents” (CTWIJTC), a non-partisan student driven service teaching social action movement which empowers youth. Born three years ago in a grade 8 Herzl RMHA classroom, this movement has grown to include students from throughout Colorado, the USA, Sweden, England and Israel. Often referred to as “the kids in green,” they lead, speak out and raise funds to rebuild schools for Darfuri children living under abysmal conditions in refugee camps on the Chad border. This grassroots, interdenominational, social action and leadership development initiative has received local, national and international recognition for the students’ tireless commitment to ensuring that they are the “voice of the voiceless.”
The brainchild of Colorado’s “Change the World - It Just Takes Cents” student-led Darfur awareness and social action movement, “Women Aware: From Image to Action, ” invites the Denver community to view the exhibits which include selected photographs from Exhibit Darfur by Mia Farrow, Victims and Survivors by Izabela Lundberg and Freedom from Slavery by Heidi McGinness, alongside Colorado Survivors: Life after the Holocaust courtesy of ADL ; unique Panels of Hope created by members of Mizel Museum Artist Alliance, and the powerful Israeli children’s artwork, “The Art and Soul of Peace Through Humor,” curated by Maureen Kushner, provided courtesy of the Israel Consulate, Los Angeles. These artworks, created by immigrant children from Chechnya, Ethiopia, Kurdistan and Morocco, who experienced considerable hardship, loss, and conflict in their young lives, and were constantly exposed to the threat and reality of violence and terrorism.
“The Art and Soul of Peace Through Humor” has been exhibited in the Israeli Parliament, 176 American and Canadian cities, and 13 European countries. This inspiring collection represents the children's hope for peace, reaching far beyond the shadow of war. They dream that their vision of “Peace Through Humor” will open the hearts and uplift the spirits of everyone and travel around the world creating friendship, compassion and love. This combination of exhibits shares heartfelt messages, gripping drama, and hope for a world filled with unity and peace. The underlying theme of the “Women Aware” initiative is to raise awareness and action, provide intellectual and cultural stimulation, and community leadership to motivate participants to join in a blend of interdenominational social responsibility benefitting all peoples, especially those suffering injustice at this time.
A $15 fee secures your reservation for this enlightening program, delectable refreshments, free parking, babysitting, and a children’s art workshop. Early registration is recommended.
For information or reservations, call Marcia Snyder at 303-951-8226 or Elaine Lichterman at 303-514-3092.
Editor’s note: The BMH-BJ Women’s League is a subsidiary of the BMH-BJ Synagogue dedicated to helping the community. The Synagogue is co-sponsoring this event with Colorado’s highly successful youth social action movement, “Change the World - It Just Takes Cents” who has received local, national and international recognition for their Darfur advocacy.