Jeannette Maré, founder of Ben’s Bells, to speak at January GMM

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Jeannette Maré, Ben’s Bells Founder and Executive Director, will lead “A Conversation on Kindness”, an in-depth discussion of the challenges and opportunities we encounter in every interaction as we strive to create a kinder community, at the Junior League of Phoenix January General Membership Meeting.

During this presentation, Jeannette will reflect on her own personal experiences with kindness in the face of devastating grief, as well as her work with Ben’s Bells Project and the power of kindness to transform people and communities. She will discuss the emerging body of research on the science of kindness.

The mission of Ben’s Bells is to inspire, educate, and motivate people  to realize the impact of intentional kindness, and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities.


About Jeannette Maré  (pronounced mar-ay)
jeanette-mare
Jeannette Maré is the founder and Executive Director of Ben’s Bells Project.  Jeannette’s leadership has anchored the organization through remarkable growth, including the opening of three studios, collaborating with hundreds of local organizations and recruiting over 25,000 annual volunteers. As part of her vision, Ben’s Bells has become nationally recognized and “kindness” is becoming part of the nation’s collective consciousness.
Before becoming full time Executive Director of Ben’s Bells, Jeannette was faculty at the University of Arizona teaching discourse analysis. She holds a Masters Degree in Linguistics from Gallaudet University in Washington D.C. Jeannette lives in Tucson and is grateful to have the opportunity to combine her two passions – teaching and community building – in her role with Ben’s Bells.

About Ben’s Bells Project
be kind.jpgThe mission of the Ben’s Bells Project is to inspire, educate and motivate each other to realize the impact of intentional kindness and to empower individuals to act according to that awareness, thereby strengthening ourselves, our relationships and our communities.
Ben’s Bells Project was founded in 2003 after the sudden death of Jeannette Maré’s two-year old son, Ben. The simple, everyday acts of kindness following his death helped Maré survive and begin to heal. She was inspired to establish the Ben’s Bells Project as a way to recognize and continue the kindness shown to her. On the first anniversary of Ben’s death, four hundred bells were hung in public places for strangers to find. To date more than 42,000 Bells have been hung in Tucson and beyond.
In addition to Bell distributions, Ben’s Bells Project provides kindness education programming for more than 300 schools, organizations and businesses. Ben‘s Bells is honored to be a part of the emerging field of multidisciplinary research that demonstrates the powerful effects of kindness on individuals’ long term health and on the overall quality of life in communities.

Recent research demonstrates that kindness benefits our physical and mental health, and that recognizing kindness in others increases a person’s happiness and satisfaction. But just as solving a calculus problem requires advanced math skills, the challenges of daily life require advanced kindness skills. By focusing on kindness and being intentional in our personal interactions, we can improve our ability to connect.

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From Silicon Valley, a STEM program for girls

stemYou may have heard the statistics on women as STEM – science, technology, engineering and math – professionals, and they are discouraging.

Consider these findings by the United States Census Bureau:

While women’s representation in STEM occupations has increased since the 1970s, they remain significantly underrepresented in engineering and computer – occupations that make up more than 80 percent of all STEM employment. Among science and engineering graduates, men are employed in a STEM occupation at twice the rate of women. And nearly 1 in 5 female science and engineering graduates are out of the labor force, compared with less than 1 in 10 male science and engineering graduates.

Which is why a shout out to a great signature program by the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula is in order.

Looking for a way to celebrate its 50th anniversary, JLPA•MP developed a new community focus – “Empowering girls to be STEM leaders of tomorrow.” Obviously, this is a natural for a Junior League whose members have many ties to Silicon Valley and the communities that nurture it; but this program is much more than just a feel-good initiative in support of the dominant industry in town.

Two key elements of the initiative paint the picture.

First, partnering with San Jose’s The Tech Museum of Innovation and one of its signature programs called The Tech Challenge, an annual team design challenge for students in grades 4-12 that introduces and reinforces the science and engineering design process with a hands-on project geared to solving a real-world problem. JLPA•MP members will mentor a team of middle school girls as they train for the next challenge event. 

In addition to a $100,000 grant to The Tech, JLPA•MP is sponsoring a new program called Girls Day @ The Tech that engages girls through STEM education as well as educating teachers to support them. Girls will participate in hands-on workshops, interact with exhibits and hear from inspiring women working in tech today.

JLPA•MP is also partnering with Technovation, a global technology entrepreneurship program and mobile app startup competition for girls ages 10-18 that challenges them to create apps for the purpose of solving real problems in their communities. League volunteers will focus on increasing the number of girls participating from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties by building visibility in the community, recruiting coaches and mentors, organizing field trips to local tech companies and a regional pitch event to help them prepare for the main competition. 

To learn more about JLPA•MP’s STEM initiative, as well as the need for more STEM programs focused on girls, here is a link to an article co-authored by Gretchen Walker, Vice President of Education at The Tech Museum of Innovation, and Jan Hickman, President of the Junior League of Palo Alto-Mid Peninsula.


*This article was originally published in connected, an official publication of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc., and has been reprinted with permission.