Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the “Global Youth Economic Opportunities Summit” in Silver Spring, Md.  Organized by Making Cents International, the conference had 500 attendees from 16 countries. It was exciting to have Management & Training Corporation (MTC) (www.mtctrains.com) play a visible role in this conference, both though participation on panels and through being a sponsor.  

Several MTC team members spoke about the challenges and opportunities faced by young people attempting to enter the workforce.  They included Greg Niblett, the Vice President of MTC’s Economic & Social Development division, Bonnie Barhyte, Director of Programs, Diane Crosby, Director of Program Development,  Mina Kamal, Career Guidance Advisor, Egypt Workforce Improvement & Skills Enhancement (WISE) project, Cairo, and Kamira Noreldin, National Project Officer with the International Labour Organization (ILO) in Egypt and also formerly with MTC’s Egypt WISE project.

Key takeaways from the panel on MTC’s USAID funded project in Egypt (WISE), included:

·     The importance of having a defined “transition from education to employment” program in order to ensure that the job seekers are trained in the skills actually needed by the local employers.

·     The proven success of the WISE project’s “Start Your Journey” program, a five-week course that includes practical life management plans (such as how to deal with transportation and childcare needs) along with career counseling and actual on the job training with an identified mentor.

·     The value of a specific program within an employer’s human resource department that makes plans to Recruit, Retrain & Retain (the 3 Rs) their employees. A key part of this is to make sure each employee is treated like he or she matters, has a voice at work, and that all people in a workplace are treated with respect.

Many speakers at this three-day conference addressed the need to find ways to build self-esteem in young people while they build their technical skills and move to the point of choosing a career.  Youth from around the world shared stories of what made their local programs successful. Almost everyone spoke about the ongoing need for more funding of grassroots programs and the need to realize the work is difficult and can take a long time. 

 Lusanda Magwape, the Founder of the Dream Factory Foundation in South Africa (www.dreamfactoryfoundation.org), noted how important it is to not get discouraged while doing this important work.  She said “Some of us sow. Some of us harvest. Don’t be afraid of failure; embrace it. Maybe your contribution was to sow the seeds of kindness, allowing others to complete the work.”  Rhoda Ayieko, the Founder of Kibera Community Empowerment Organization (KCEO) in Kenya (www.kceo.org) spoke of the importance of being willing to fund grassroots organizations.  Drawing on her experience helping disabled women in Nairobi become successful entrepreneurs, she noted that “grassroots groups have the local contacts and thus often have the opportunity to make the biggest impact.”  

This was the 13thyear of this conference, sponsored by Making Cents International (www.makingcents.com).  The conference was a highly interactive, global convening that allowed people to exchange ideas and build new partnerships to further develop economic opportunities for youth around the world.  

Ending Conversion Therapy in Utah

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In Utah, the leading cause of death for young people ages 10-19 is suicide. 

In 2018, Governor Gary Herbert created a Suicide Task Force to begin discussing ways to lower the suicide rate in Utah.  Since then, Equality Utah has been working with the Governor’s Office to not only lower the suicide rate, but also to end the harmful practice of conversation therapy, that has been shown to increase suicide rates and suicidal thoughts among those subjected to it.  

According to the Trevor Project, a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth and young adults, LGBTQ youth are particularly vulnerable to suicide ideation.  A 2018 study from Dr. Caitlin Ryan at the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State found that among LGBT youth who reported that parents and therapists had subjected them to conversion therapy experienced more than double the rate of depression and nearly triple the rate of suicide attempts.  The Same study stated, “attempts to change sexual orientation during adolescence were associated with elevated young adult depressive symptoms, and suicidal behavior, and with lower levels of young adult life satisfaction, social support and socioeconomic status. “ 

During the 2019 Legislative session, an effort to codify in Utah Law, banning conversation therapy was thwarted by conservatives arguing that the proposed legislation would hamper a therapist’s ability to do their work.  While that proposed legislation failed, this week the fight to end conversation therapy had another public debate.  On September 26, the Psychologist Licensing Board held a three-hour public hearing to review and propose new professional and ethical rules around the practice of conversation therapy.  At that hearing, several dozen speakers told stories of survival and resiliency after being victims of the harmful practice.   The outcome of this hearing is not yet known, and public comment is still being taken until October 15.  So far, the Utah Department of Commerce has received over 1300 written comments, with 85% in support of the rule changes.  If you want to have your voice heard, email Larry Marx and share your support for the proposed rule change. 

I hope that these rule changes take effect and Utah youth will no longer be subjected to a practice that is proven to be ineffective.  

The Status of Women in Utah & the Annual YWCA Policy Summit

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The YWCA of Utah, located in Salt Lake City, continues their impressive mission of empowering women and eliminating racism, as will as their advocacy efforts at the State and national level.  This month the organization held its annual Policy Summit.  Each year, policy makers, community leaders, and researchers come together for a solution focused dialogue and innovative problem solving.  This conference is an opportunity to elevate the conversation around critical issues, develop shared understanding, and explore lasting and inclusive change for women, girls, and families in Utah.

This year, the conference opened with the release of the Institute of Women’s Policy Research's annual report on the status of women.  Notably, this year, the number of women working outside the home continues to increase, now slightly surpassing the rate of women’s labor market participation in the country as a whole. The percentage of women working part-time in Utah is still the highest in the nation. Business ownership and representation in professional and managerial positions among Utah women are also increasing, more Utah women now live above the poverty line, and women in Utah have made great strides in education attainment; however, the progress in these areas is markedly different when race and ethnicity are considered. For example, women of color participate in the labor market at higher rates than white women in Utah, but have lower earnings. Among full-time year-round workers, white women earn significantly more than women from all other racial and ethnic groups, and overall earnings for all Utah women have not yet returned to their 2015 level after a backward slide highlighted in last year’s fact sheet. Older women also continue to be highly dependent on Social Security for economic security later in life, with a higher proportion of women of color relying entirely on Social Security for their income than white women.

You can read the full report here

Even with small strides towards women’s equality, recently Utah was rated the worst in the nation.  Wallethub.com released its 2019 Best and Worst states for Women’s Equality report and considered three things in their rankings: Workplace and environment, political power, and education and Health.  Utah ranked last, or second to last on all three.  Utah has the second largest income gaps between men and women, and the largest executive positions gap.  

There is more work to be done; I’m proud to support the work of the YWCA in their mission of empowering women and eliminating racism, as well as their advocacy efforts at the State and national level.  This month the YWCA of Utah held its annual Policy Summit.  Each year, policy makers, community leaders, and researchers come together for a solution focused dialogue and innovative problem solving.  This conference is an opportunity to elevate the conversation around critical issues, develop shared understanding, and explore lasting and inclusive change for women, girls, and families in Utah.

This year, the conference opened with the release of the Institute of Women’s Policy Research's annual report on the status of women.  Notably, this year, the number of women working outside the home continues to increase, now slightly surpassing the rate of women’s labor market participation in the country as a whole. The percentage of women working part-time in Utah is still the highest in the nation. Business ownership and representation in professional and managerial positions among Utah women are also increasing, more Utah women now live above the poverty line, and women in Utah have made great strides in education attainment; however, the progress in these areas is markedly different when race and ethnicity are considered. For example, women of color participate in the labor market at higher rates than white women in Utah, but have lower earnings. Among full-time year-round workers, white women earn significantly more than women from all other racial and ethnic groups, and overall earnings for all Utah women have not yet returned to their 2015 level after a backward slide highlighted in last year’s fact sheet. Older women also continue to be highly dependent on Social Security for economic security later in life, with a higher proportion of women of color relying entirely on Social Security for their income than white women.

You can read the full report here

Even with small strides towards women’s equality, recently Utah was rated the worst in the nation.  Wallethub.com released its 2019 Best and Worst states for Women’s Equality report and considered three things in their rankings: Workplace and environment, political power, and education and Health.  Utah ranked last, or second to last on all three.  Utah has the second largest income gaps between men and women, and the largest executive positions gap.  

There is more work to be done; we are fortunate to have the YWCA as a strong leader in Utah.

Quiet Heroes wins a Daytime Emmy

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The documentary film by Jenny Mackenzie and Jared Ruga that tells the incredible story of Dr. Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder recently won a Daytime Emmy.  Quiet Heroes won the 46th Annual Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Special Class Special.   The film explores how Utah’s religious culture complicated the AIDS crisis in Salt Lake City, and Reis’ and Snyder’s care and compassion for AIDS patients at a time when people living with AIDS weren’t shown these basic human considerations.  

In the mid 1980s, Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder’s work inspired me to offer legal services to patients with HIV/AIDS.   Tami and I are proud of the support we have given to the University of Utah’s Dr. Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder Permanent Collection.  

The story of Kristen Ries and Maggie Snyder is an important part of Utah’s history.  In the 1980s when HIV first came on the scene, patients who contracted the virus had a life expectancy of one year.  Kristen and Maggie often spent their weekends holding the hands of patients who were dying.   They were the only option for help for hundreds of patients; Snyder and Ries have kept their stories in scrapbooks and notebooks through the years. 

Quiet Heroes is available to stream on Amazon Prime.  Read more about this wonderful film and it’s accolades here

"and Justice for all" celebrates 20 years

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Last week, “and Justice for all” celebrated their 20 year anniversary at the 2019 Justice Rising Breakfast. 

This year the breakfast had over 600 attendees, and gave Justice Visionary Awards to the Utah Bar Foundation, the Utah State Bar, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and the George S and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation.  

 “and Justice for all” was started in 1999 as a collaborative partnership program between Utah’s largest providers of civil legal aid – Utah Legal Services, Disability Law Center, and Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake.  They undertook this collaboration with a mission to increase awareness to civil legal services for the disadvantaged and for individuals with disabilities in Utah. 

The programs “and Justice for all” supports are vital to the success of our community and serve clients like the family who unfairly lost its benefits and is one eviction notice away from being homeless, the person with a disability facing discrimination at work, and the mother caught in a cycle of domestic violence with nowhere else to turn. 

Recently, “and Justice for all” partner the Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake helped a single mother of two, Melissa, secure a protective order against her abusive husband and also negotiated a divorce settlement giving her sole custody of her two children as well as financial support. 

Tami and I were proud to contribute to the acquisition of the "and Justice for all" building 20 years ago, and are happy to be able to continue our support. Having started my legal career at Utah Legal Services in 1976, I know how important it is to offer access to justice for those who otherwise could not afford legal assistance.

If you, or someone you know needs the services of “and Justice for all” please visit andjusticeforall.org to learn more, or get involved in this important work.  

For They Know Not What They Do - World Premier

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Last week, Tami and I had the privilege of attending the world premiere of our friend Daniel Karslake’s new film, For They Know Not What They Do. Premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York City, Dan once again demonstrated that he has a unique gift in making films that have the ability to change minds and hearts.  Dan’s films reach deep into the U.S. conservative religious community and poignantly point out what happens when traditional beliefs encounter actual lives. (See his prior film, For The Bible Tells Me So.)  This new film tells the stories of four families trying to follow their traditional religious teachings while realizing they have a gay or transgender child. 

 We cried, we laughed, we learned as we watched the premiere with some of the families profiled in the film. Along with the tragedies presented by a family that lost their gay son, and a young gay man who lost some of his friends due to anti-gay violence, the film also presents lessons of hope and redemption.  For any family struggling to understand their child’s sexual orientation or gender identity, my hope is that you have the opportunity to watch this film.  It could literally save your child’s life – and maybe your life too.

 This film could not be timelier.  Some churches are experiencing a conservative backlash and making it more difficult for lgbtq people to be accepted.  The current U.S. administration is severely cutting back the rights of transgender people. It is our hope that this film will receive a wide distribution.  Thank you, Daniel Karslake, for once again sharing your insights and your story telling gift with the world. 

For more information on For They Know Not What They Do, please visit  www.fortheyknow.org

For more information about Daniels previous work, visit www.forthebibletellsmeso.org