International Women’s Day Events

Friday, March 8th, was International Women’s Day which, according to the UN website, “is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, linguistic, cultural, economic or political…” Thus, we celebrated the occasion by attending two events, both sponsored by Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC, where we got to meet or re-connect with quite a few people.

First, we drove over to Executive Caterers Landerhaven in Mayfield Heights to attend “A Glass-Ceiling Shattering Night for Women” put on by Elite Women Around the World (EWAW) which is “a global network of individuals, leaders, organizations, businesses, coming together with a shared mission of enhancing the economic position of women globally and creating a worldwide platform.”

Accordingly, Ms. Rita N. Singh and Ms. Paula R. Harrison, who are, respectively, the Founder & CEO and the Project and Program Coordinator, arranged a dynamic event composed of speakers who offered guidance as to how women could further empower and enhance their lives. Supreme Court Justice Melody J. Stewart and Dr. Margaret McKenzie, M.D. from the Cleveland Clinic were two speakers included.

To be sure, the schedule also included talks by such eminent men as Dr. Marvin Montgomery who spoke about the power of attitude and Dr. Rupesh Raina, M.D. from the Cleveland Clinic who was also a program co-chair. During his address, Dr. Raina encouraged women to “dream big” and emphasized the importance of education; in fact, the new motto of the EWAW was unveiled to be “Advancement of All Women Through Education.”

Our good friend, Ms. Meryl Johnson, of the Ohio Station Board of Education, was present and she offered a very moving rendition of the song, “The Impossible Dream” just prior to the address of Justice Melody J. Stewart, the first African-American woman elected to the Ohio Supreme Court, something not too long ago deemed not possible.

We also encountered our friend Ms. Lori Lipton from the Eastern Lake County Chamber of Commerce as well as our good buddies Ms. Oanh Powell, Dr. Nada Martinovic, and Mr. Dan Hanson who was covering the event for

Plus Ms. Tawny Criblez and Ms. Aimee Schlernitzauer came forward and said that they recognized us from events that we attended a while ago involving the Solon Chamber of Commerce and the Latino Business League.

In particular, we were glad to meet Dr. Ajay K. Seth, MD, whose parents immigrated to the United States from India making him first generation U.S., and his friend and former patient, Ms. Melissa Loomis. Their association is a moving one; so much so in fact that Dr. Seth wrote a book about it titled “Rewired” which tells how Ms. Loomis, after being bitten by a raccoon, was in danger of losing her life but was saved by Dr. Seth who performed an amputation and went on to create a prosthetic limb for her that was deemed a “miraculous” scientific advancement. At this time, Ms. Loomis is fully recovered and eternally grateful.

After we left Executive Caterers, we hurried over to the Ariel Center on East 40th Street in Cleveland in order to meet our friend and colleague, Mr. George Koussa, at “One Night for the World” a celebration of International Women’s Day put on by International Partners in Mission (IPM) which “works across borders of faith, culture, and economic circumstance with children women and youth to create partnerships that build justice, peace and hope.”

Accordingly, its vision involves partnering “with community-based organizations around the world that serve the needs of children, women, and youth” and creating relationships that are “personal and effective…”

Along these lines, we spent quite a bit of time talking to Ms. Stephanie Morrison Hrbek about the role of her husband, our friend Mr. George Hrbek (also distinguished by his work at Lutheran Metropolitan Ministries) played in IBM proceedings over the years as well as the wonderful accomplishments of the organization. To be sure, Ms. Morrison Hrbek is quite an activist herself having helped to found the Near West Theatre on Detroit Avenue.

We also got to talk to Ms. Kim McFarlin, Clinical Instructor and Director of International Affairs at the Mandel School at CWRU, about the impact that current immigration policies have had on foreign-born students and Ms. Roberta Duarte, who we once interviewed for “I, Foreign Born”, about her work as a project manager at jumpstart. Plus, for the second time that day, we encountered Ms. Jan Roller who was also at the High School Debate at the City Club and, like us, was very impressed by it.

The event was largely organized by our friend Ms. Selena Pagan who did an excellent job because it was a fine combination of terrific food, socializing among guests, entertainment by the dance company Cleveland Bollywood, and informative presentations such as the screening of a video showing International Women’s Day being celebrated in India earlier that day and, before we arrived, an interactive conference call (or skype interaction?) between the director of IPM in Latin America and the people at the Ariel Center in Cleveland.

As for ourselves, we ourselves arrived a bit late to have dinner at the appropriate time but we did enjoy a cup of hot chocolate made with Mayan fudge offered to us by Ms. Kelli M. Arendt, an entrepreneur who founded a company appropriately named, “Oh Fuudge” because it reflects our enthusiasm for that cup of Mayan hot chocolate which could easily become a tasty habit at the end of a long day.