The Board of Directors of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) convened on December 1st in their 2018 year-end board meeting. In addition to reelecting their members, they elected and welcomed two additional board members. They are Lisa Brett and F.A. Cole, both of the State of Maryland.
Lisa Brett studied Electronics in the 1980’s and worked in manufacturing for a number of years before joining Voluntary Service Overseas in 1989 to become a teacher of technology at a state girls school in the predominately Muslim Northern Nigeria. From 1994 to 2000, Lisa lived in Latin America where she was appointed to the Executive Board of a charity to support victims of Hurricane Mitch. She returned home to the U.K. and worked for the Victim Support National Office, where she sat on several international project steering groups and worked with the European Forum for Victim Support Schemes.
In 2011 Lisa was elected to Bath and N.E. Somerset Council and became Deputy Mayor of Bath City in 2014. In addition, she was nationally elected by her peers to the cross-party, Stronger and Safer Communities Programme Board of the UK’s Local Government Association or LGA, where she was appointed Deputy Chair.
Lisa told Global Woman Newsletter, “I have spent some time familiarizing myself with how FGM is tackled in the USA and the work of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation, I recognize how much the Foundation has achieved and how much more work is still to be done.” When asked how she felt GWPF would benefit from her presence on the board, Lisa said, “I would like to share with the Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation my experience of tackling FGM in the UK, particularly around early intervention to prevent FGM from happening, and to support the Foundation through my knowledge of fundraising.”
Working with one of the UK’s largest national children’s charity, Banardo’s, Lisa helped to found the UK’s National FGM Center and chaired the National FGM Center’s Advisory Board. In 2013 the UK Home Office invited Lisa, on behalf of the LGA, to join a panel of experts to coordinate lessons learned from inquiries into historic child sexual abuse. At the same time she attended a parliamentary backbench committee for Home Affairs, Justice and Equality.
Within her local government area, Lisa chaired the Children & Young Peoples Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel that focused on; safeguarding, education, support services and children in care. She also chaired the local community safety partnership of police, local government, fire & rescue, probation, and health. From 2013 to 2017 Lisa sat on Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Panel and was responsible for maintaining regular checks on the regional Police & Crime Commissioner.
Lisa moved to the Washington, D.C. area with her family in 2017, when her husband joined the World Bank in Washington, D.C.
F.A. Cole is not new to Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation. Originally from Freetown, Sierra Leone, F.A. Cole has used her traumatic childhood and young adult experiences to design a blueprint to defeat female genital mutilation, sexual abuse, and oppression. Through unwavering faith, Cole has developed an art for empowering the lives of women and children. She spends her personal funds to assist with school tuition for several students in her native Sierra Leone. Cole told Global Woman Newsletter, “I did not just get up and decide one day to help the students. I was moved by God to do it.”
From victim to victor, F.A. Cole experienced life’s tragedies at an early age and fought to overcome them (sexually molested at age six; forced to undergo female genital mutilation at age eleven, raped multiple times; and many more.) Her astonishing literary work, Distant Sunrise – the Strength in her Pain to Forgive, speaks to the pain and suffering of women who have experienced female genital mutilation and survived physically, mentally, and spiritually.
The year 2017 was an eventful year for F.A. She traveled to Sierra Leone in May to host a special workshop for young women and girls, where she distributed feminine napkins, pencils and other necessities. Upon her return to the U.S., she underwent genital restorative surgery to help correct what was done to her at age 11 during FGM. She has since become a spokesperson for restorative surgery, its benefits, and her own experience.
When F.A. was asked how her presence on the board would benefit GWPF, she said, “Having a survivor as a liaison or representative between GWPF and other survivors will help create an avenue through which survivors can freely communicate their concerns, needs, and suggestions without having their identities disclosed if they wish to be anonymous.” She continued, “Also, knowing that one of their own is on the board gives them additional hope and a sense of belonging to the community.”
F.A. Cole was vigilant in working with a State Representative in Maine to get a law against FGM passed in that state. Although Maine still remains without a law against FGM, Cole’s testimony last year in New Hampshire helped lead to the criminalization of FGM in that state earlier this year.
In an exclusive interview with Cole two years ago, she told Global Woman Newsletter, “I wish for a world in which every child will be allowed to live a life of freedom, joy, peace, and love. I want to see a world free from the practice of female genital mutilation, sexploitation, and all other forms of violence against women and children.”
Both Lisa and F.A. have already assumed their roles with the Board of Directors of GWPF. Lisa will chair the Education & Training Task & Finish Group, while F.A. will serve on the International Affairs Task & Finish Group. International Affairs is responsible for providing feminine napkins for girls in West Africa, and for developing a scholarship program for girls in that region of the world.
Feeling fortunate to have Lisa and F.A., Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation welcomes the newest members to their Board of Directors and the GWPF family, and look forward to working with them.
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