Panelists Discuss Importance of Female Economic Empowerment

Courtesy Dolly Moorhead

Courtesy Dolly Moorhead

Jewelry designer and entrepreneur Kara Ross (COL ’88) discussed the importance of female economic empowerment with a panel of female leaders and entrepreneurs in the Rafik B. Hariri Building on Thursday.

Ross currently owns and operates Diamonds Unleashed by Kara Ross, which seeks to redefine strength and empowerment through partnerships with two other female-focused organizations, Girls Who Code and She’s the First.

Girls Who Code seeks to close the gender gap in technology and engineering fields, and She’s the First provides educational scholarships for girls in low-income families.

“Education is everything, and the mantra at Diamonds Unleashed is ‘give a girl an education and give her the world,’” Ross said.

University President John J. DeGioia said the university has a responsibility to empower women.

“We have an opportunity and a responsibility to impact these challenges, to encourage the economic empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality,” DeGioia said.

Ross said she wanted to use her passion for jewelry to start a movement that would not only allow her to do something she loves but also benefit others.

Diamonds Unleashed by Kara Ross’s logo is a symbol of a diamond with a smaller diamond elevated from within, forming a heart shape. Ross said the symbol is meant to be a reminder and promotion of the philanthropic obligation that women have to each other.

“What will define success? It will be having this beautiful symbol of empowerment, seen across many different platforms, not only jewelry, but shoes and clothing and tabletops, as well as seeing the effects of our nonprofit partners and really seeing the effects of our donations,” Ross said.

Executive Director of Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security Melanne Verveer led the panelists, who also included Chief Operating Officer of the Inter-American Development Bank Julie Katzman and co-founder of Black Entertainment Television Sheila Johnson. Verveer was appointed in 2009 by President Obama to be the first U.S. ambassador for global women’s issues.

Verveer said women’s economic empowerment is crucial to the overall success of economies.

“There is a strong, evidence-based case that shows that women’s economic participation is absolutely critical to growing economies, to creating jobs, to inclusive prosperity. If women are not participating economically, we are not going to get where every country wants to be,” Verveer said.

Catherine Reynolds, founder of the Catherine Reynolds Foundation, which promotes youth education, cited passion, appetite for risk and perseverance as key for success.

“There are three characteristics that are unique for entrepreneurs. One is to really have a passion, so it is consuming, just in your DNA. The second is an appetite for risk; you have to be fearless, just fearless. And the third is perseverance, in the sense that it will generally be upon your shoulders whether something does or does not happen,” Reynolds said.

Ross said it is important for women in business to look out for each other.

“Helping each other, encouraging other, looking out for each other is so important. Think about yourself as a [grade] D flawless diamond: beautiful, strong, multifaceted, unbreakable and brilliant, because that’s what you are,” Ross said.

Dolly Moorhead (COL ’16), who attended the event, said she appreciated being able to hear women in business as she prepares to graduate.

“I really enjoyed getting the opportunity to hear from some truly inspirational and successful women in business. As I am going to be graduating in May, I particularly appreciated getting to learn important insights about how to be a successful woman in any career path, such as the necessity of networking, focusing on helping other women and how it is better to be passionate about an idea or business rather than a certain position,” Moorhead said.

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