The essence of working at the Delores Barr Weaver Policy Center is unique, a treasure beyond measure. It is girl-centered and rooted in human connection and heart, the fertile ground—the only fertile ground–for all of our actions.
Here, we do not go anywhere without honoring this foundation. The lens we work through is to remember to sit where the girls sit, to see what they see. It is embedded within the culture and expressed through our thoughts, language, and actions.
Here, there is always a space for pause. This is a place to store anything that is heavy, sharp, or burdensome. We do not talk until we have something to say. We emphasize open-mindedness, emotional availability, and safe spaces–nurturing quiet places of confidence while promoting continuity of care.
Here, we are encouraged to learn how to trust our feelings, our bodies, and the silence. “I feel…”: A phrase of power and purpose–of self-knowledge, self-trust, liberation. We provide a space of grace, recognizing that we are all on the same journey, a human journey. We are all creators of our own stories and discoverers of our own strength, just like the girls we have the honor to walk alongside on their journeys.
Here, we share an awareness that we are building a counterculture, and thus, it can often feel like we are swimming upstream. But it is these small battles that are fought and won every day, while we stand alongside each other—coupled with larger, more visible ones, such as the Lisa Glass trial—that are all fuel for empowerment and motivation.
Here, we do not see trauma as a flaw. We see it as a stepping stone. We see cracks not as fissures but as entryways through which the light shines through—brighter and more beautiful than before. When we see a girl who has been through suffering, we do not endow her with strength—we hold her hand as she finds and cultivates strength within herself. “Fall seven times, stand up eight” (Japanese proverb)—for within us all is a place of power, a plane of energetic potential we can all reclaim: the mind, the self.
Here, we recognize that by pausing and reflecting, we cultivate that space within each of us, to come home to our truest selves. We become kinder, more empathetic, and more mutually-empowering—and from that place of resilience, we can alter and transform the heavy inertia of the world. Many people are unable to see themselves and their surroundings in this way, blind in the face of their own potential and unaware of the power of choice that they have–but it is both possible and absolutely necessary for each of us to recognize our unique agency, honor our lived narratives, and act on them if we are to live happily as a diverse and unified collective.
In fact, the universe conspires for us all to embark on this quest of self-discovery and self-empowerment. Knowing and loving ourselves is not only a journey but a fundamental responsibility–and when we do the work within ourselves, we find that we are in an enriched place–eager to bring what we have learned to the world.
Joan Amery Van Vleck Research Fellow