SWO Speaker Series

Women’s Wisdom Women In Action
Speaker Series

Under the direction of Dr. Nahid Angha, the Sufi Women Organization hosts a semi-annual speaker presentation program, Women’s Wisdom: Women in Action. Through this program, SWO honors leaders, activists, and humanitarians who have provided exemplary services. SWO seeks to bring people together to learn, to build community, and to cultivate ways of living and working oriented toward dignity, health and service.  See some of SWO’s featured speakers below, and learn more about the full program.  We hope you’ll join us at an upcoming event!  Click here to sign up for IAS newsletters, including SWO’s monthly email newsletter.

Living Wisely and Well In This Time

November 12, 2022

* A portion of event proceeds supported SWO’s 2022 Gifts of Peace Donation Drive.  Thank you to all who attended, and we hope you will join us in 2023!

In November, The Women’s Wisdom: Women in Action program sponsored an event in our ongoing women’s health series featuring speakers Kahontakwas Diane Longboat and Belvie Rooks, longtime humanitarian activists and friends. Diane is a ceremonial leader, educator, spiritual activist, and traditional teacher from the Mohawk Nation, Turtle Clan.  Belvie is a writer, educator, film producer, social and environmental justice advocate. Belvie and her husband, the poet and activist Dedan Gills, formed a deep relationship with Diane through a shared commitment to peace, healing, restoration of the earth, and respect for indigenous wisdom.

Diane opened the conversation with an invocation, inviting the presence of natural forces and ancestors into the circle.  She shared that we don’t walk this life alone, and we don’t transition alone; we always have helpers. She also noted that all faith traditions recognize the unity of love and that differences can join us together more than divide us. Belvie spoke about the profound impact of meeting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when she was a teenager, and he was 29 years old.  Belvie was inspired by Dr. King’s message that truth, righteousness, and love will win out, and the redemptive power of love and the personal responsibility each of us has to make a difference.  Those words have reverberated and inspired Belvie throughout her life.  She also shared poems from Dedan, and reflections on working with Apollo astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell and the connection between his “epiphany” and experience of interconnectedness and the teachings of indigenous peoples. In the conversation with each other, and in response to audience questions, both speakers highlighted the importance of “doing our own work.”  They emphasized that our own authenticity will be seen and valued, while preaching words that we don’t embody will not be heard or helpful.  When we practice to listen to, embody and speak our hope and wisdom, we each have the capacity to impact hundreds of others, sending forward ripples of learning and peace.

Wellness & Well Being
for Families & Teachers
in a Time of Transition

September 14, 2021

Our ongoing discussion in our women’s health series focused on “Wellness & Well Being for Families & Teachers in a Time of Transition,” featured panelists Dr. Shelly Wold and Dr. Anya Dozier Enos, who shared their thoughts and insights, and offered their experiences, reflections and tools used in this time of transition.

Dr. Anya Dozier Enos, is an enrolled member in Santa Clara Pueblo and has over 30 years of experience in Indian Education and is Education Development Director of the tribally controlled Santa Fe Indian School. She stressed the importance of ritual and gathering with family units as a way of healing during the Covid pandemic.

Dr. Shelly Wold received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Wright Institute and is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. She is the Executive Director at Positive Pathways LLC, a play-based behavioral health agency providing structure and routine for children. She spoke to the importance of utilizing acceptance and commitment therapy to help clients connect to their values to find vitality and move toward a rich and meaningful life.

Wellness & Well Being for Families & Teachers
in a Time of Transition

May 4, 2021

SWO’s first event about “Wellness & Well Being for Families & Teachers in a Time of Transition,” was an evening of inspiring conversations between five health care providers and educators who virtually shared their experiences of the last school year. The panel discussion was moderated and facilitated by Dr. Elizabeth Miller, a member of the Sufi Women Organization, also an educator. The panelists discussed how they have seen and experienced the impact of covid on kids, parents, teachers, and family systems at this time of the pandemic. They emphasized that a mindset of acceptance, prioritization and compassion is needed whether you are a teacher, a parent, a student, or a caregiver of any kind, and pointed to the importance of really listening, as well as tuning into one’s own state and sharing with students, and other family members and children. As much as possible, it’s important during these challenging times to be a calm reassuring presence for own selves and for our children.  (Also read event highlights in Sufism, An Inquiry)

Event Panelists:
Chrissy Nichols, founder and CEO of The Chrissy Concept, LLC, is a life coach and educator who focuses her work on serving teachers. Carin Rhodes graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor’s in Elementary Education and has been an educator for 25 years. Jenae Casalnuovo is an educator originally from Marin County. She teaches at an elementary school in San Rafael, CA. Christina Fass manages the Marin County Office of Education’s Early Intervention Program. Katherine Preston is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and has been practicing for over 30 years.

Honoring the Work of Janet King

Sept. 14, 2019

On September 14, 2019, through the Sufi Women Organization, the Women’s Wisdom: Women in Action Program hosted Janet King, who serves as Program Manager of Policy and Advocacy at the Native American Health Center for the San Francisco Bay Area. Janet is a longtime advocate of mental health transformation and a founding member of the Racial Ethnic Mental Health Disparities Coalition of California. At the Native American Health Center, where she has been for the last 24 years, Janet is working to show that current approaches to mental health are not working well, and that more preventative care, early intervention, and inclusion of traditional healers and healing practices stand to decrease the cost of care, while increasing the use of services and likelihood of recovery.

Janet also acknowledged that the most difficult part of her work is often self-care, and that she has seen many women struggle to nourish and care for themselves while also tending to the needs of their families and communities.  She spoke about the reverence for women and children in Native American traditions, and how valued caregivers are within the traditions of her tribe.  Janet encouraged all in attendance to pay attention to the way narratives are told, to feel empowered to tell their own story, and to practice respect for oneself and all people.

Honoring the Work of Linda Graham

March 2, 2019

On March 2, 2019, the Sufi Women Organization through the Women’s Wisdom: Women in Action Program, honored Linda Graham, MFT, Psychotherapist, Author, and Teacher. We had a great number of individuals attending the event, many were therapists or interested in mental health issues. Much of Linda’s teaching about resilience revolves around an early experience she had about “bouncing back,” and she realized she was dealing with inner and outer emotions. Linda that resilience is a foundational practice and that we have a choice and responsibility. Resilience is innate in our brains. Linda’s outstanding book: Resilience: Powerful Practices for Bouncing Back from Disappointment, Difficulty, and Even Disaster, is a guidebook, full of tools and resources to help one to focus on mindfulness which is a cornerstone of resilience.

Celebrating Women’s Leadership

(click photos below for bios)