2023 International Women’s Day Observance

International Women’s Day Observance
Pay What You Can $5-20 | In-person event with bench seating

Reflect on women's social, economic, cultural, and political achievements with a call to collective action for accelerating gender equity. This year’s global theme set by the United Nations is “Embrace Equity”, which involves challenging gender stereotypes, calling out discrimination and bias, and cultivating inclusive environments and systems. Bear witness to intersectional reflections on the state of gender equity today with women leaders from the Houston community sharing their perspectives.

Presenters include
Kimberly Baker, Assistant Dean, UTHealth Houston School of Public Health
Kelly Johnson, Director of Public Programs, Rothko Chapel
Rachna Khare, Executive Director, Daya
James McAloon Jr., trumpeter & DACAMERA Young Artist
Rev. Diane McGehee, Senior Pastor, Bering Memorial
Leslie Contreras Schwartz, poet
Kesley Sham, harpist & DACAMERA Young Artist
Eden Rose Torres, Founder, Pride Portraits & transgender activist
Donya Ziraksari, Iranian women's rights activist, author, producer

Dr. Kim Baker works full-time in public health as an Assistant Professor and the Assistant Dean of Practice at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston School of Public Health where she researches topics related to reproductive health & justice and public health practice. She manages We Can Do More/Own Every Piece, a multi-partner systems-level intervention to increase access to contraception for women in Harris County. Here she is conducting research on implicit associations among reproductive health providers, the impact of colorism on care delivery, and participant storytelling. Dr. Baker has also developed multiple health interventions using participatory methods involving African-American male teens, faith institutions, and health providers. Dr. Baker serves on the board of the Jacob and Terese Hershey Foundation where she lends her expertise in reproductive health and equity-centered impact. She also is the co-owner of Full Circle Strategies, a consulting firm committed to organizational change for racial equity and The ReCollective, a non-profit committed to training emerging leaders in equity and community change work. Dr. Baker received her BS in Biology from Hampton University in Hampton, VA in 2003, her MPH from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2006, and her Doctorate in Public Health from The University of Texas Health Science Center, School of Public Health in 2013.

Rachna Khare is the Executive Director of Daya - a Houston-based nonprofit that empowers South Asian survivors of domestic and sexual violence with culturally specific services and educates the community to end the cycle of abuse. Rachna takes an intersectional approach to ensuring autonomy, preventing harm, and celebrating healthy relationships. Rachna has overseen significant growth of the organization which has more than doubled in both client volume and annual revenue since she began her role in 2016. In Houston, she is a Founding Member of South Asian Youth of Houston Unite (SAYHU) and serves on committees for the Houston Immigration Legal Services Collaborative (HILSC) and the Harris County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council (HCDVCC). On the state level, Rachna serves on the Board of the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA). Nationally, she is a Founding Member of the South Asian Survivors & Organizations in Alliance & Rising (SOAR). A native Houstonian, Rachna believes in the power of healthy relationships to reimagine healing and justice in our community.

DACAMERA Young Artist trumpeter James McAloon Jr. enjoys an active career performing and teaching. Recent highlights include performances with prestigious ensembles such as the London Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and the Houston Grand Opera. Mr. McAloon has received Distinctions in Research and Creative Work from Rice University while being a Teacher's Assistant. While completing his bachelor’s degree at the Hartt School of Music, Mr. McAloon participated in an outreach tour with his Honors Brass Quintet. Mr. McAloon enjoys devoting time to teaching privately as well as at local schools throughout Houston. McAloon is a recent graduate of the Shepherd School of Music, where he completed his master’s degree under the tutelage of Charles Geyer and Barbara Butler.

Rev. Diane McGehee is the senior pastor of Bering Memorial United Church of Christ where she has served for 5.5 years. She is the wife of attorney Jack McGehee; mother and mother-in-law of Jonathan, Ben, Summer, Danny, Sarah, David, Tory, Paige, and Jennifer; grandmother of Luke, Colin, and Pierce. She is a graduate of the Harvard Law School and Perkins School of Theology, and the Nine Gates School, with 20 years of experience as a trial lawyer in the civil courts; 5 years as pastor of the Asian-American congregation of Bellaire UMC, and 7 years as the Director of the Center for Missional Excellence of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Diane is the founder and co-director of Together in Hope - a 501(c)(3) non-profit seeking to empower the poor in the Philippines. She is a former founding board member of Justice for Our Neighbors, which provides free and reduced immigration legal services as a ministry of the United Methodist Church; member of the founding Advisory Board of the Duke Center for Reconciliation; a leader of contemplative prayer retreats; an American Leadership Forum (ALF) Senior Fellow; a social justice advocate on behalf of the LGBTQ community, immigrants, refugees, returning citizens, foster children, and all who need to know that they are beloved children of God and of infinite worth just as they are.

Leslie Contreras Schwartz is a multi-genre writer, a 2021 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, and the 2019-2021 Houston Poet Laureate. She won the 2022 C&R Press Nonfiction Prize for From the Womb of Sky and Earth, a lyrical memoir (Fall, 2023). She is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Body Cosmos (Mouthfeel Press, 2024) and Black Dove / Paloma Negra (FlowerSong Press, 2020). She is a graduate of The Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College and earned a bachelor's at Rice University. Contreras Schwartz is currently a poetry and nonfiction faculty member at Alma College's MFA low-residency program in creative writing. Find more about her writing at lesliecschwartz.com.

Harpist Kelsey Sham completed her Bachelor of Harp Performance degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and earned her Master of Music in Harp Performance at Rice University. A dedicated orchestral musician, Ms. Sham has performed with ensembles across the United States, and often performs with her flute, harp, and viola trio, the Elysian Trio. As a DACAMERA Young Artist, she has programmed recitals for historically underserved communities, introduced music and culture to neurodiverse students, and frequently engages in arts outreach. Ms. Sham also manages a private studio, serves as the Secretary for the Greater Houston Chapter of the American Harp Society and manages communications for Houston-based AAPI nonprofits through Houston in Action.

Eden Rose Torres is a transgender activist who’s unapologetic in her fight for trans liberation. She has utilized social media using personal, educational and resourceful ways to reach people across the globe. She is also the Founder of National LGBTQIA+ non profit, PridePortraits.org. She has photographed and interviewed seven thousand participants in a celebration of queer pride. Instagram: @edenrosetorres

Donya Ziraksari is an Iranian Women's Rights activist. She is an engineer by day and writer/filmmaker by night, was born and raised in Iran, and moved to the United States in 2007 as a religious refugee. She has given many talks at colleges, universities, international events, and conferences about Iranian women, religions, culture, history, languages, famous places to visit, and inside information about the hardships endured by the 1980s generation in Iran. Her first memoir, “Tehran to Miami” invites the readers to Iranian homes and to the untold stories about her faith, family, and country.

International Women's Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women's equality. IWD has occurred for over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere. IWD is not country, group, or organization specific. The Rothko Chapel has a programmatic history of observing International Women’s Day each March and has hosted meditations, conversations, and performances exploring urgent issues that impact women across the globe.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023
6:00 PM