Giving Back | Global Fund for Women | GeoEx
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Making a Difference

By Natalie Werve | August 19, 2016

One GeoEx Staffer’s Story of Inspiration & Why She Gives Back

When I was younger, I remember asking my dad about his early years and how he came to make those critical “who will I be” and “what will I do” decisions that so greatly impact the course of one’s life. The answer most boldly printed on my memory is, “I knew that I wanted to make a difference.” At first glance this seems like such a simple, generic, and ultimately useless statement: no list of steps to follow, no specific action plan to take. This answer was a little surprising coming from a mechanical engineer who was constantly detailing the nuts and bolts of how things work, but I suppose my dad knew already that easy answers held no allure for me. Undeterred, I took this broad-sweeping principle and set it as a compass point to guide my life.

Once in action, this concept is surprisingly comforting in its easy employment. Years later, I’m better able to identify the appeal of his statement: It doesn’t come with lofty goals, unrealistic ambition, or demands that I suffer for a cause. Without definition or scale, opportunities to make a difference abound. It can be as easy as opening the door for that guy who’s about to drop five precariously balanced orchids—five seconds that can make the difference between him spending the next half hour cleaning up soil and pottery shards, or delivering flowers to five people who are sure to smile on his arrival. Of course not all differences are so quickly made, or as full of flowers.

Global Fund for Women

Over the past couple of years I’ve been volunteering with the Global Fund for Women. Their mission is for every woman and girl to be strong, safe, powerful, and heard. That’s a lofty goal, and one that won’t be achieved in a matter of seconds, or even years. Dreaming so big can be scary, but it’s not nearly as frightening as complacency. The obstacles to gender equality are huge, but that is all the more reason we must work to overcome them.

I’ve been lucky enough to travel extensively, both on my own and with GeoEx, and I’ve gained unique insight into the joys and hardships of women all over the world. I feel fortunate to be afforded such great freedom in my life, provided by both the place and the people around me. Though this is certainly not the case for all American women, my health and safety are relatively secure. On top of that, I can say whatever pops into my head, make choices about how I spend my time, pursue anything that interests me, and even wear the clothes I feel most myself in. So I was really excited when local designer Nima Shiraz asked if Global Fund for Women would like to partner with him to turn his upcoming fashion show into a benefit, and I was the lucky one who got to help make that happen. 

Nima’s story about growing up in Iran with powerful female role models, in spite of their lack of public freedom, is really inspiring to me. Though I’m certainly not very fashionable myself, I’ve always been particular about my clothes, and I love Nima’s passion for creating beautiful womenswear garments. Working with him was a great opportunity to raise money and awareness for Global Fund for Women, but also for me to learn and explore a world about which I knew almost nothing. As I got to know Nima over the course of several months of preparation, I found myself happily surprised by how easily I could relate to him and his work. I didn’t need to understand design to see the stunning beauty in a dress. I didn’t have to know anything about sewing to notice the intricacy and impeccable detail of a jacket. And what I already knew about people was sufficient to tell me that Nima is a great one.

Fashion Show Fundraiser

One of Nima Shiraz’s looks from the runway

In the time leading up to the show, I was also pursuing an opportunity to support Global Fund for Women through my work at GeoEx.  We were re-evaluating our Giving Back program, and due to my unbounded enthusiasm for this topic, I was offered a spot on the committee leading the charge. I’m extremely proud to say that the GeoEx staff took a survey to determine where we wanted to focus our efforts, and together we chose women’s issues. So through my connections at Global Fund for Women, we were able to take the next step for GeoEx to start officially supporting the organization.

I invited my colleagues to Nima’s show and was surprised that so many showed interest in attending. Ultimately GeoEx decided to sponsor their attendance.  What a culmination of so many things I’ve worked for! The evening was a great success, both for Nima’s designs and for the mission of Global Fund for Women. We enjoyed cocktails and conversation in a beautiful setting. We brought awareness to hundreds of people about how determined women around the world are making positive changes in their lives and in the future of their communities. We solidified connections that will enable GeoEx to continue supporting Global Fund for Women through a variety of channels, and also for Global Fund for Women to potentially work with Nima in the future. In fact Nima was an honored guest at our Art Live Lounge event the following month, and Global Fund for Women staff has since visited GeoEx offices to tell our entire staff more about their work. The impact is growing already!

GeoEx staff on the red carpet at the Global Fund for Women fundraiser

Accomplishing specific big goals, like focusing our company on growing the impact of our Giving Back program, is exciting and it’s something I think about constantly. I’m happy that one event has spun so many threads of possibility to make a difference. And I’m thankful to be in a place where I’m encouraged to weave making a difference into the fabric of my daily life!

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Natalie Werve (pictured below with Iranian-American designer Nima Shiraz) is a Director on GeoEx’s Production team. She seeks adventure both close to home and far across the world, actively exploring the great outdoors, dancing to live music at historic venues, trekking or train-hopping to new places, and sometimes simply basking in the sun with lots of food and a good book. Like most GeoEx staffers, she has a passion for travel and a fervor for learning. She plans to leave the world in a better place than she found it.

GeoEx staffer Natalie Werve with Iranian designer Nima Shiraz.

To learn more about Global Fund for Women or how GeoEx gives back and the other organizations we support, visit the GeoEx Foundation.

Photo at top of story: Designer Nima Shiraz and actress, singer, model Chrysta Bell stand with volunteers from the Vanguard Advisory Council at the Global Fund for Women fundraiser

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