Our Story

Founder Karen Jooste Begins Daughters

210_JoosteKarenIn 2006, Karen had the good fortune of participating in a Women’s Studies class at the Graduate School of Public Health in Pittsburgh, taught by Carol McAllister. Carol told stories of women all over the world, highlighting the influence of cultural practices, education, place of birth, gender inequality and social context, on their lives. Karen became aware, through this wonderful teacher, of how many vibrant and talented women there are who do not have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest and contribute their talents, due to lack of possibility in their social context.

downloadDuring this time, Karen read the remarkable autobiography of an extraordinary woman, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Left to Tell, in which she describes her life following the Rwandan genocide in 1994. At the end of this book, Karen realized that Immaculee described that with deep faith and tremendous courage, she was able to use her strength and talents to take control of her life and change it, and that a good education provided the foundation for her to get a job with the United Nations. Education was an opening to possibility.

ihwx.6aa64cdb-0aaa-4ed8-905c-68bb58dd73a3.200.175Karen wondered how many  extraordinary young women there are, all over the world, who could take control of their lives, experience joy, become leaders in their communities & build their societies – if given the possibility of education.  At about the same time, Karen also read The Art of Possibility, by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander, a book describing their philosophy which opens us to the treasures of our great human capacity for creativity. The Zanders describe how our lives have infinite possibility and that each day we can ask ourselves the question “How will I be a contribution today?”.  This was when the first idea for Daughters was born – to create possibility for young women, through education, so that they can be a contribution in the world with their compassion and talents,  to build and lead their societies and live lives of infinite possibility and joy.

Karen worked with the Duquesne Community Enterprise Law Clinic in Pittsburgh and Daughters, a 501 (c) 3 corporation was incorporated in November 2008.

Acknowledgements from the Founder:

Many people have contributed greatly to the making of Daughters International,  as the “think tank”. I express my gratitude to all the Members of the Board of Directors: Jane Bennett, Adriana Dobryzycka,  Ellen Lee, Sue Poole, Lorraine Shamalla-Hannah and Fran Sylvers. I am grateful that they all shared their great minds with me, in the creation of Daughters.  Thanks too, to the student attorneys at the Duquesne Community Enterprise Law Clinic and to their Supervising Attorney, Norma Caquatto, Esq., for their dedicated work and their guidance, to incorporate Daughters.

To all of you, whom I have not named, but who know that you were a contribution, through your creative thinking, your giving, your believing – thank you.


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