Heidi Altshuler Harmon Alumnae Achievement Award Speech

 

On May 26th, Alverno Heights Academy had the honor of presenting Heidi Altshuler Harmon ’87 with the Alumnae Achievement Award. Heidi so kindly accepted and shared such a powerful and beautiful speech with the Alverno student body:

“Good morning Alverno class of 2017! and everyone here at this amazing school. It’s an honor to be here back at my old stomping grounds and back at a place where my desire to see a more just world was born. My time at Alverno invited me to think about the world from a social justice lens. And it was the place that taught me the importance of women and girls in leadership. And it essential that we have more women and girls in leadership roles. Women know how to build a bigger table and not a higher wall. We have a vision for a more fair and just world and we need the leadership that supports that vision because we face an unprecedented level of challenges. Whether it’s income inequality, racial injustice, or lack of access to healthcare there are many issues that need to be addressed. But primary amongst them is our changing climate. As Pope Francis has said “climate change is a problem which we can no longer leave to future generations” and he went on to say that “climate change represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

“We are experiencing a once in a generation crisis and so too a once in a generation opportunity to stand up for each other and to take action on climate change and other important issues. Martin Luther King said “the ultimate measure of a person is not where we stand in moments of comfort and convenience but where we stand at times of challenge and controversy.”

“And in this moment of challenge and controversy we as women stand together. To make this community and this country and this world united around a vision for justice, equality, and freedom. Women have come under attack especially in the past year and so it is incumbent upon us to stand stronger than ever to stand together.

“Women come from a long history of organizing outside traditional political structures because we have so long been denied the right to be part of them. We fought for the right to vote. The right to have a voice. The right to run for office. And I am inviting you to consider running for office. Women are still greatly underrepresented in elected office. Women have to be asked to run 7 times before they will consider it so I am asking you now to run. Run for office. Run for office. Run for office. The world needs your unique vision to create a more democratic society that puts the long-term sustainability of all of us over the short term economic gains of the very few.

“We are on the precipice, we are at a moment in which we must decide what type of future we want, what type of world we want to leave our children, what will be our legacy? We face many challenges in this moment and we also faced many opportunities. This is the great gift of this moment. The seeds that have always been within us, the seeds to take action are now fertilized with deep concern and awareness. The seeds are finally starting to blossom. Climate change presents us with an opportunity for solidarity in the face of a shared threat people. We have a choice. We need more women in office because I can’t imagine that a matriarchy would ever allow short-term profits for a few to be priority over the long-term sustainability of all of us. And so we must run for office and demand a seat at the table. We have been on the menu long enough. So I encourage you to run. Run for justice, one for equality, run so that our daughters and our sons will have a more just and sustainable world, run like a girl!”

​Thank you once again Heidi for taking the time to return home and share with our 2016-17 student body your thoughts and achievements. Alverno is beyond blessed to have such amazing alumnae as part of our community.

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