Amplifying Inspiration at the Annual CGI Meeting

Last Updated on Tuesday, 1 November 2011 12:12 Written by Donna Karan Friday, 23 September 2011 05:35

From the very beginning, The Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting has fueled my inspiration at Urban Zen – it’s where a global community comes together to connect, collaborate and commit to creating change – everything I believe in. There is nothing more important. We are in a time of historic change and everyone needs to come together so that we can support each other.

The opportunity to gather with so many amazing people, sharing thoughts and coming up with solutions is a gift. A perfect example of this is the meeting I had with the Grief team that I originally met in Haiti. Not only did Grief come to the table, they came with solutions.

I loved seeing Francine LeFrak who is committed to putting a human face on important social issues. Francine has been my friend since high school and it’s always such a joy to see her and catch up with the extraordinary projects she’s working on. Seeing her at CGI was a brilliant opportunity to reconnect the dots all over again.

I have to say I am so thankful for my biggest connection of all, the woman who got me involved with CGI: Barbra Streisand. She introduced me to CGI and because of her I’ve been a member for five years.

This year, CGI focused on pressing topics like the advancement of women and girls, job creation and environmental solutions – issues that I have been emmersed in through my work in Haiti and my commitment to creating jobs in Haitian artisan communities. Last year we talked about Hope, Help & Relief Haiti. This year, the focus is on rebuilding Haiti. If not for the Clinton team, I could not have been as effective in my work in Haiti. Greg Milne and Laura Graham have been invaluable to me and nothing would be possible without my team and friends on the ground in Haiti.

The focus on Haiti became brilliantly clear on Tuesday evening when I had the great privilege of hosting President Martelly, President Kagame and Dr. Paul Farmer at Urban Zen Center to share that Haiti is open for business and ready to rebuild. I invite you to read the whole story here.

To say this week was a crazy week is a serious understatement. I was like a child in an amusement park, wanting to go on every single ride without enough time to do so. The experience left me in total awe of Bill Clinton, the man who holds it all together. From his opening speech to his closing remarks – he continued to ground everyone with the base-line understanding of why we were there: to be an answer to the world’s most pressing problems.

I am leaving CGI with incredible motivation, amplified inspiration, a host of new supportive connections and a refocused commitment to raising awareness and inspiring change.

Photo Credit: Taylor Davidson, Todd France, Paul Morse, Adam Schultz, Juliana Thomas

dk signature on black 06 Amplifying Inspiration at the Annual CGI Meeting

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This Week’s Community Highlights!

Last Updated on Friday, 23 September 2011 03:14 Written by Urban Zen Friday, 23 September 2011 03:14

 This Weeks Community Highlights!
It was a busy week for us. With the WIE symposium, the book launch for @PIH’s Paul Farmer, and Donna Karan’s appearance on CNN, our Twitter feed was abuzz. Many thoughtful women took to their smartphones in order to share with the world the inspiration they felt from the symposium attended by leaders such as Arianna Huffington, Christy Turlington, and our very own Donna. Our contest winners, especially @katiewsimon, were documenting their amazing opportunity to accompany our founder throughout the two-day event. We were thrilled by the theme of women and girls as part of the Annual Meeting for the Clinton Global Initiative. Our founder Donna Karan and Executive Director Myra Magaletta, including many of our followers such as @Alayna, were deeply moved by speeches from President Obama and the Clinton family as well as the heartfelt commitments from so many influential world leaders. Coincidentally, we had two Presidents at the Urban Zen Center for the launch of Paul Farmer’s latest book, “Haiti, After the Earthquake. We were excited to have @erinschrode join us for this special evening. She is a founder of @theschoolbag for Haitian children and filled up our Twitter feed with her enthusiasm. Last but not least, our Twitter party for Donna’s appearance on @PiersTonight was a big hit. @RikaJ83 felt Donna portrayed Haiti in a realistic but positive way. @JATetro felt the Urban Zen’s mission for Haiti could be applied to global health initiatives. Others were excited to see our artisan crafts on the show, such as @mariansalzman. We want to thank Twitter friends such as @colleenecleary for spreading the word about the Twitter viewing party as well.

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Haiti: Open For Business

Last Updated on Friday, 21 October 2011 11:30 Written by Donna Karan Wednesday, 21 September 2011 02:46

haiti open for business collage Haiti: Open For Business
New York City is a bustling hive of global activity this week as the UN General Assembly has gathered and the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting is in session. I was honored to open the doors of the Urban Zen center to welcome many of these of leaders, including Haiti’s President Martelly and Rwanda’s President Kagame as our guests last night at Urban Zen, for a celebration of Dr. Paul Farmer’s book, “Haiti: After the Earthquake.”

It was a very special evening that allowed for Haiti to come into the spotlight, highlighting it’s growth, development and potential for business – issues that I have come to support and believe in with great passion. It made my heart soar to see President Martelly take the stage to reintroduce Haiti to the global community saying, “Come to Haiti and recognize the strength and wealth that we have. I welcome you to come and visit. Haiti is now open for business – don’t see me as the president of Haiti, see me as your partner.”

With every visit to Haiti and every new, creative Haitian I meet, I become increasingly convinced of the possibility and potential of Haiti and believe that the marriage of philanthropy and commerce will serve as the solution for rebuilding this country. Last night truly exemplified everything we have been striving for with our Hope, Help & Rebuild Haiti mission. In fact, Dr. Paul Farmer said it best when he said, “If you want to help Haiti, create jobs. Relief is behind us, rebuilding is ahead.”

I was enormously grateful when President Martelly shared with me that, “Urban Zen feels like a Haitian home.” Haiti captured my heart in the first moment I experienced the vibrant country, so recreating a small piece of Haiti’s essence at Urban Zen is a great honor for me.

Special thanks to Dr. Paul Farmer, President Martelly, President Kagame, Michelle Jean, Wyclef Jean, Philippe Dodard, Partners in Health and my Urban Zen team for making the evening a signature on black 061 Haiti: Open For Business

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