My time at the Carter Center is one of superlatives. I can’t stop talking about the extraordinary experience.
Over the course of twenty-four hours I met wonderful people, listened to excellent speakers who shared the remarkable accomplishments of the center. I’m grateful and humbled by their work. The Carter Center continues to make significant and lasting impact on our world in the areas of health and peace.
For a brief time I sat with Ambassador (Retired) Mary Ann Peters, Chief Executive Officer of The Carter Center. We bonded over the fact that she’s a graduate of Santa Clara University where my oldest son attends. Ambassador Peters is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and Women in International Security. She worked for 30 years as a diplomat, holding positions in Dhaka, Canada, Moscow, and Bangladesh to name a few. I could have listened to her speak all day.
I spoke with Jennie Lincoln, one of the Thursday night presenters. Ms. Lincoln is the director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program. She shared a fascinating story of meeting with members of the Colombian guerilla organization known as FARC in a hotel room in Columbia and what that meant for the peace process. I’m astounded at her strength and bravery and grateful for her work. Current efforts include collaborating with Columbia’s presidential advisor on human rights, drafting political reforms, partnering on peace education and helping re-integrate FARC’s child soldiers into Colombian society. Wow! Did I mention the superlatives? You can read more about the center’s work here.
In the areas of health, one of the most significant contributions is the near-eradication of Guinea worm disease. According to the Cater Center website:
In 1986, the disease afflicted an estimated 3.5 million people a year in 21 countries in Africa and Asia. Today, thanks to the work of The Carter Center and its partners — including the countries themselves — the incidence of Guinea worm has been reduced by more than 99.99 percent to 25 cases in 2016.
I wont share details of the specifics of the disease here, as it’s upsetting to many people. If you want to learn more however, you can follow this link.
And finally, the Carters. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter spoke with us for about an hour. President Carter is exactly as you would imagine in person: soft-spoken, highly intelligent, direct but with a twinkle in his eye. At 92 he continues to run circles around everyone. First Lady Rosalynn Carter was equally bright, gracious and engaged.
Under the leadership of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, a long-standing champion for the rights of people with mental illnesses, the Carter Center’s Mental Health Program works to promote awareness about mental health issues, inform public policy, achieve equity for mental health care comparable to other health care, and reduce stigma and discrimination against those with mental illnesses.
As far as I’m concerned, the Carter’s exemplify the gold standard of how we should be in the world.
I’ve never attended an event where I felt more welcomed. Marion Dixon got in touch ahead of time and invited me to join a group for lunch. Barry Nickelsberg, Chief Development Officer, sent me a note asking about plans for Friday evening. From the shuttle bus driver to the welcoming volunteers, everyone made me feel at home.
In a word: magnificent!
About the Carter Center
“A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health world-wide.”
(source: The Carter Center)