View from the Center: Inclusive Values

By Helen MacKinnon

Helen MacKinnon has been a supporter of the Women’s Foundation of California for eight years and she is the co-chair of the Los Angeles Donor Circle, which focuses on economic development and self sufficiency programs for women and girls. Helen is president of Technical Connections, a technology recruiting firm that is over 26 years old.

I was at a Women’s Foundation salon which featured a speaker from the California Latinas for Reproductive Justice and, as so often happens, found that I was the only person in the room with a less than perfect score from the ACLU. As a centrist, maybe even a little rightist sometimes, I always have to either keep my mouth shut or sound like the ghost of Phyllis Schlafly (yes, I know she’s not dead yet), neither of which is very comfortable. So, you can imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when the speaker actually talked about inclusive strategies that appeal more to values than to rhetoric. What a novel concept!!

For example, rather than taking a hard stance about being pro-choice and every woman having the right to an abortion, she spoke about the opportunity for every person (man and woman) to shape his/her own destiny and make personal choices that will impact their life forever. She spoke about the importance of education and the barriers that prevent a girl from going to school, whether that be teen pregnancy, drugs, poverty, etc. She pointed out that as the values are further defined and explored in the community, the options available to support those values can be determined. So, the conversation changes from being one of “I’m right/you’re wrong” to “how can we achieve what we both agree to uphold the values we believe in?”

Though a strong supporter of the Women’s Foundation, I sometimes find myself in conflict with its positions and endorsements. However, what is most important to me is to keep in mind that I strongly believe in the Foundation’s mission – to assist women and girls, throughout the state and beyond, in achieving their goals and dreams while removing the obstacles of gender bias.

So, I will continue to support the Foundation while also continuing to voice my own somewhat out-of-step opinions, constantly searching out those inclusive strategies that work for us all.

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