2019 Marin Women’s Hall of Fame
Women of Distinction Induction and Celebration Dinner
Thursday, March 28, 2019, San Rafael, CA
Recently, I was honored to be inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame during a gala attended by 450 guests in San Rafael, CA. I am truly humbled to be among an extraordinary group of awardees, who are not only highly accomplished, but who also contribute so much to our community and to the world. We all felt incredibly special following in the footsteps of such great leaders such as Senator Barbara Boxer. Moreover, my introduction by a high school senior, Makena Cusick, was unquestionably the highlight of my evening, as I witnessed her brimming with incredible sophistication, intellect and presence, characteristics of a future leader.
These were my comments upon my induction.
Whenever we receive such an honor, we pause and wonder how we got there? How did I get from Alexandria, Egypt to standing in front of a podium with such a select group? For me it is family, community and friends.
First and foremost, I have an incredible, loving family.
My husband, Mahmoud, my partner for 55 years, supported and enabled me. I will be forever grateful to him. This award is for him, as much as it is for me. Our sons Waleed and Sherief gave us such joy, which energized us and kept us moving forward. Then, they expanded our family through their soul mates, the amazing, loving and accomplished Dr. Deena Emera and Paula Meleis.
I am also here because Marin County was so hospitable and welcoming when we immigrated from Egypt and migrated from Los Angeles - and I hope it continues to be warm and hospitable toward today’s immigrants, legal or not!
Our dear Marin friends continued including us in their lives when we migrated to the East Coast during the past 16 years - and they quickly made sure we reintegrated in Marin when we returned. We are indebted to them for their generosity, love and support.
If our dear friend, Joan Brown, did not invite me to the Executive Women of Marin’s “Wednesday Morning Dialogues,” where I met their president, Margy Eller, also the president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), she would not have known me or nominated me. I am grateful to her.
I am definitely here because of my passion for supporting nurses’ voices, work, education and research. Nurses - all 20 million of us around the world - are the heart and the soul of the health care system. We have been voted the most trusted professionals for at least the past 10 years.
I am also here because of my compassion for empowering women globally, and positioning their issues front and center. This is no coincidence since 90% of nurses are women and 70 % of family caregivers are women.
I am enabled to be here because I stand on the shoulders of 100’s of women who made it possible for me to act on this passion and compassion.
- I stand on the shoulders of the many housekeepers, who were immigrants and refugees. They cleaned our house, washed our laundry and freed me to do the work I cared about - and they inspired me with their can-do determination.
- I stand on the shoulders of the many administrative assistants and chiefs of my offices, who organized me and insured that I was always well prepared for all of my roles - including my global research.
- I stand here on the shoulders of the many fisherman’s wives in Brazil, Por Día maids in Columbia, nurse assistants in Mexico, immigrant women in California and clerical workers in Egypt, Kuwait and the USA, who entrusted me with narratives about their lives - narratives that included marginalization, oppression, devaluation, violence, trafficking and under compensation - and narratives about resilience and creativity in transcending all obstacles to raise healthy and accomplished children. Their can-do attitudes inspired me.
- I stand here on the shoulders of 100’s of mentees from all over the world, who taught me how to be a better mentor. They proceeded to exceed my capacity, as they became the best mentors and leaders and they continued to be an important and inspiring part of my life.
Because I stand on so many strong shoulders of so many strong women, I extend my deepest gratitude to them and I accept this award for all of them and on behalf of them.
This is really an award about women supporting women, and about women who continue to make the world a better place to live. What an incredible honor.
|Afaf Meleis and her family, friends and mentees at the|
2019 Marin Women's Hall of Fame Induction and Celebration