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Seeing the World From a Different Perspective
International Women Authors Series Turns 10

"The ability to change perspective is essential to being a global citizen. Global citizenship is an integral concept within the Stanley Foundation’s Vision Statement as it refers to nation-states, but global citizenship begins with individuals."Jill Goldesberry

Readers have been virtually taken all over the world since the Stanley Foundation launched the International Women Authors Series a decade ago.

This year, the foundation is once more co-hosting the event with IWLC, formerly known as the Quad Cities Women’s Connection, which promotes women’s leadership. Pulitzer Prize finalist Laila Lalami (left), author of The Moor’s Account, is this year’s featured speaker at a dinner event in Rock Island, Illinois.

“I had the idea for a series featuring international authors because reading their books helps one to see the world from a different perspective,” said Jill Goldesberry, program officer for community partnerships at the Stanley Foundation, who helps coordinate the series.

Community partnerships programming often melds the interests and goals of the Stanley Foundation with those of other entities, Goldesberry said. The idea for an international author series aligned with the Quad Cities Women’s Connection, which wanted to start a series featuring women authors. “We discussed the advantages of collaborating, and developed the International Women Authors Series,” Goldesberry said.

The target audience for the event is women’s book clubs in the greater Quad Cities area, Goldesberry said.

“Many book clubs reserve a table so that their members can be seated together. Therefore, the first consideration is that we have a book, or books, to promote that appeal to this particular audience,” Goldesberry said. “We invite a speaker who was born in another country and lived there for many years of her life, though several of the chosen authors now reside in the United States.”

Goldesberry said all of the authors who have taken part in the series have been well received. “Many attendees return to this event year after year. And after every event, someone tells me that night’s speaker was their favorite of all,” Goldesberry said. “Who most resonated with listeners is subjective, of course, but I would say that Alexandra Fuller was a hit because of her humor, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because of the subject matter. She really made people reflect. Mariane Pearl is a personal hero of mine, so she is the standout for me.”

Lalami is the third author from Africa to be featured. Others have hailed from Asia, the Middle East, Australia, North America, and Europe.

“There are many countries in South America, and we have never had an author from that area of the world,” Goldesberry said. “In the future, we will give special consideration to inviting one of the many terrific woman authors from that continent.”

— Francie Williamson, The Stanley Foundation
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