Festival to present "Visionary Leadership Award" to Zainab Salbi on November 18

The International Festival of Arts & Ideas will present the 1st annual Visionary Leadership Award to Zainab Salbi, Founder and CEO of Women for Women International, on Thursday, November 18, 2010. The award presentation and benefit luncheon, sponsored by AT&T, will take place from Noon to 2pm at the New Haven Lawn Club, located at 193 Whitney Avenue in New Haven, CT. The guest host for the event will be Judith Resnik, the Arthur Liman Professor of Law at Yale Law School.

The Visionary Leadership Award was created in honor of the late Jean M. Handley’s leadership as a Founding Director of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. Ms. Handley provided thoughtful and effective leadership as a lifelong champion of many of the region’s arts, cultural, social, and educational organizations.

“This award will be presented annually by the Festival to a visionary leader whose trailblazing work is impacting the world,” said Mary Lou Aleskie, Executive Director of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. “Jean Handley boldly envisioned a Festival whose mission would be to celebrate and engage our diverse community and have an impact on the regional economy, in addition to presenting world class artists and thinkers,” said Ms. Aleskie.

Ms. Handley’s fellow Founding Directors Anne Tyler Calabresi and Roslyn Milstein Meyer are the Honorary Chairs for the Visionary Leadership Award. Since their creation of the Festival in 1996, it has blossomed into one of New England’s leading and most innovative cultural institutions with a global reach and influence, attracting audiences of more than 100,000 people each June, and described as “a happening hard to top for sheer scale and variety” by the New York Times. All proceeds from the award presentation and luncheon will benefit the Jean M. Handley Fund for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas. “Our hope is that this fund will sustain the socially aware international performances and community engagement aspects of the Festival that meant so much to Jean and has contributed to our local community as much as our community of artists from around the world,” said Ms. Aleskie

Zainab Salbi started Women for Women International in 1993, a grassroots humanitarian and development organization helping women survivors of wars rebuild their lives and sustain an income. Since its founding, the organization has helped more than 270,000 women access social and economic opportunities through a program of rights awareness training, vocational skills education and access to income generating opportunities, thereby ultimately contributing to the political and economic health of their communities. Ms. Salbi’s work, while celebrated globally, always starts with grassroots community-building.

Ms. Salbi is the author of two books: the national bestseller “Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam” (with Laurie Becklund) that documents her life under Saddam Hussein’s rule, and “The Other Side of War: Women's Stories of Survival and Hope.” Her work has been featured in major media outlets, including 8 appearances on “The Oprah Winfrey Show”, CNN, The Washington Post, and The New York Times.

Ms. Salbi has been honored by former President Bill Clinton for her work in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1993 and was recently nominated by Mr. Clinton as one of the Harper’s Bazaar 21st Century Heroines to honor her actions, faith and determination in making a difference. She is the recipient of the 2010 David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award and has received the Forbes Trailblazer Award and Time Magazine’s Innovator of the Month award. Ms. Salbi is a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, one of 22 members of the Clinton Global Initiative Lead program, and is a member of the U.N. Secretary General’s Civil Society Advisory Group focusing on the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325. Ms. Salbi has a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Bachelor’s degree from George Mason University.

Women for Women International provides women survivors of war, civil strife, and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies. Since its founding in 1993, the organization has empowered more than 270,000 women survivors of war to move towards economic self-reliance, distributed nearly $89 million in direct aid and micro-credit loans, and benefited more than one million people. For its work “alleviating human suffering”, Women for Women International was awarded the 2006 Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Award, becoming the first women’s organization to receive this honor.

Women for Women International currently works in eight conflict and post-conflict areas of the world: Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Democratic Republic Congo, Kosovo, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sudan, and Ms. Salbi’s native country of Iraq. The Festival is honored to celebrate Ms. Salbi’s work particularly since so many artists performing at the Festival over its fifteen year history have been from these areas of conflict, and that the Festival’s own work to bring people together through the arts has been based in grassroots community-building.

Judith Resnik teaches about federalism, procedure, feminism, and local and global interventions to diminish inequalities and subordination. Her recent books include “Migrations and Mobilities: Citizenship, Borders, and Gender” (co-edited with Seyla Benhabib, NYU 2009), “Federal Courts Stories” (co-edited with Vicki C. Jackson, Foundation Press 2009), and “Representing Justice: From City-States to Democratic Courtrooms and Guantánamo Bay” (with Dennis Curtis, Yale University Press, forthcoming 2010).

As of October 18, the Vice Chairs for the Visionary Leadership Award are Louise Endel, Gordon and Shelley Geballe, Ruth Lord, Linda Lorimer, Ruby Melton, Peyton Patterson, Carol Ross, and Diana Sousa/Covidien; the Committee Members for the Visionary Leadership Award are Laura Clarke, Deborah Desir, Eileen Eder, Kim Healey and Jean Kelley.

The 16th annual International Festival of Arts & Ideas will be held June 11-25, 2011. Since it’s founding in 1996, the Festival has presented more than 18,000 artists and thinkers in over 5,000 events, celebrations, explorations, forums, exhibitions, debates, presentations and more. The Festival plays host to over 100,000 people each year, and takes place in more than two dozen venues in and around New Haven, Connecticut, including theaters, concert halls, courtyards and the streets. More than 75 countries have been represented in the Festival since its inception.

For more information about Women for Women International, please visit www.womenforwomen.orgEVENT: 1st annual Visionary Leadership Award presentation and benefit luncheon

DATE: Thursday, November 18, 2010

LOCATION: New Haven Lawn Club, 193 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT

TIME: Noon-2pm

ADMISSION: Tickets are $100 and $250; Tables are $1,500 and $2,500.

INFORMATION: To purchase tickets online, click here or contact Laura Folker at (203) 498-3758 lfolker@artidea.org