My Minerva Moment



Since 2004, The Women’s Conference has honored extraordinary women with the annual Minerva Awards. These Remarkable Women & Remarkable Legacies have recognized a problem, identified the solution, and pursued it with strength, courage, perseverance and compassion.

Each one of us has experienced that moment when we first realized that we have the ability to make a difference and transform the life of someone we love, someone less fortunate or someone in need. That's your Minerva Moment!

So tell us –

When did you realize for the first time that you could make a difference? What was your Minerva Moment?  

Share your story in 200 words or less in the comments section below.


My Minerva Moment
  • I founded EAT CLEANER with my dad, Dr. Shawki Ibrahim, Colorado State University Emeritus Professor, Ph.D., Environmental Health Sciences, M.A., Agriculture. With an emphasis on quality ingredients, sustainable packaging and beautiful branding, we created a line of all-natural products that allows consumers to take food safety into their own hands with the power of plant science. Dad has been an accomplished writer and professor for over 30 years, and began challenging government agencies to strengthen food safety procedures after receiving contaminated seafood at his local grocery store. I began my food and retail marketing career writing about sustainable agriculture and food safety issues (Food, not Phood) early in my career as the marketing director for Wild Oats Markets. Dad's brainchild and my love for all things culinary coupled with our mutual love for my kids fueled the fire for this joint venture.

    We had discussed the product concept for years, but in 2005 dad was diagnosed with prostate and bladder cancer in the same month my son was born. In 2008, I became a single mother, was traveling almost weekly and my home had lost 30% of its value. It hit me hard that life is uncertain and ultimately, you have to make tough decisions that are right for you. In honor of my father's lifetime of commitment to his practice and my desire to create a lasting legacy for my children and an improved quality of life, we decided to push EAT CLEANER into overdrive. To say that launching a brand in the middle of an economic recession would be a gross understatement, let alone the other circumstances. But I know in my heart it was the right thing to do.

    Posted by MareyaI, 9 May 2010.

  • March of 2008, we were told our precious daughter, Hannah, who had just turned 4, would die in her late teens or early 20's as a quadriplegic, dependent on a feeding tube and ventilator. Hannah has a rare, neurodegenerative disorder called Giant Axonal Neuropathy (GAN). There are no treatment options and noone in the US was studying the disorder. We immediately decided to fight! With any disease, someone has to be the first to be cured, and for GAN it's going to be Hannah. We formed a 501C3 public charity and created a website. We learned there are many ravaging neurodegenerative disorders without treatment options. We found other families, and other families found us. My minerva moment came when I realized, the mission that was started to save Hannah would save many children suffering from GAN world-wide, and the collaborative therapy development effort we are funding may have profound implications for many closely related neurological disorders. We are creating a miracle, for generations to come. I was told that Maria Shriver was made aware of our mission from a friend of a friend, and she was moved. We hope to meet her soon.

    Posted by lsames, 9 May 2010.

  • In 1994 while taking care of my mother because of her heart surgery, I realized that she was not capable of watching my son anymore. I needed to stay home and take care of her and my son. I also needed an income. I ran a daycare business out of my home while taking care of my mother. I absolutely loved my business. I decided to go back to night school, obtain my masters in elementary education, and after four and half years of daycare in my home, I capture a teaching position in the most dangerous city in New Jersey, Camden. I love my job and have been teaching now for 11 years. My mother did not have the opportunity to see how I am transforming the lives of poor inner city kids in a city riddled with crime. I am now taking care of my father-in-law who is 86 years old, while my husband is trying to start his business, and my son who is taking his steps toward his college years. It has been a difficult year for us because of the economy and my husband's business. I had to put my Ph.D on the back burner because of our financial situation. I feel that my nurturing background prepared me in the care of my mother, my daycare business, my father-in-law, and now my students. I know in my heart that I am making a difference in the lives of future generations to come, even if I do it one student at a time. This is my "Minerva Moment." Thank you for allowing me to share it with you.

    Posted by teacher123, 9 May 2010.

  • My Minerva moment was when I was in my last semester at Pace University, NY. I worked so hard this semester and was preparing to graduate. I checked my grades and realized I was short credits in order to receive my diploma. As I scanned my transcript, I noticed some of the grades I received in two classes were very poor grades. At first I was disappointed at myself and could not beleive how I have failed. As I slept the night away, I realized that I simply needed to make these classes up in order to bring my GPA up higher. I registered for two classes and started worring about how would I pay for these classes on unemployment benefits and no savings. You see my life went for a turn two years ago when my husband and I brought our first home. The house was a total remodel without our knowledge and we depleted our total savings. The following year we became pregnant with our third child and was very happy. Within that same year my husband and I lost our jobs. It was just terrible for our family. Our house was such in bad shape, we had to stay with family during the process. I joined an organziation called CABA in my community, we work for the community in making a safe enviroment for residents. The park is a place to meet and great new and existing residents. We have worked so hard to bring new activities to the community. The women's Gender Studies course I took this semester help me realized how great of a community we have and how women can help change things and how significant we are to our children, family and community. We have a big responsiblility. Giving up is not what I am about. I want to show my children with hard work and dedication you can make a difference in the world. I also want to show them that education is key. Since I already made the choice to take these classes over the summer, I will work hard on finding ways to pay for the courses I need. We face scarifices in our lives which sometimes leaves us at times feeling helpless. With prayer and guidence we can accomplish anything.

    Posted by Daphney Civil-Acosta, 9 May 2010.

  • My first Minerva moment happened when I opened into awareness about the plight of endangered species as a child and knew that my life's purpose is to be an eco-warrior on behalf of Gaia/Mother Earth. That was 45 years ago and since then the (re)emergence of the Divine Feminine (or Holy Grail) is now much more evident/visible in the collective as the old, outdated, egoic patriarchal models of power dissolve; giving way to a more soul centered, unifying 'we (vs 'me') consciousness.' Having three young girls has also transformed my journey as an international wildlife conservationist to a community, social justice advocate; now studying Jungian depth psychology and writing Ph.D. My Minerva moment(s) are ONE: past, present and future as I chart and pave the way for ecopsychology, sustainable ecological ethics and sacred activism to coalesce into new paradigms for healing and transforming our relationships to Nature, inner and outer, with our simultaneously emergent selves.

    Posted by agadog, 8 May 2010.

  • When my son was turning 9, he was addicted to skateboarding - and to skateboarding shoes. He desperately wanted a certain pair of skateboarding shoes, by a certain brand.

    He was becoming aware of fashion and felt the need to consume.

    As a parent I wanted my son to be mindful of the impact that consumerism and fashion have on our environment - but at the same time I was happy that he was excited to work toward getting something cool.

    We had just finished watching the six part DVD series "PLANET EARTH" which caused my son to ask me "Mom, will there be clean water for me when I grow up?" As difficult a question as it is to answer, it is even more difficult to hear your child ask the question. And then, we saw - a web video that articulates our society's wasteful consumerism.

    So, I have a son with an upcoming birthday party (20 classmates attending), he wants nothing but these specific $40 skateboard shoes, and he's concerned that there might not be clean water for him when he grows up...

    None of his friends will buy him the shoes, so we made a deal. If he would "in lieu of gifts" ask his friends to make a contribution to a cause he cares about, I'd let him buy THE SHOES as his group birthday present. He did - and he was thrilled. He raised over $200 for a cause he cared about, AND he got his shoes. He understood that in doing this, he personally prevented 20 gifts worth of waste from going into our local landfill. And he felt like a rock star.

    But, then he was bummed. He felt so empowered making a difference on his birthday - but then was sad that he'd have to wait a whole year to make a difference again. I said "what if 3 of the 20 people you invited say 'hey, I want to do what Aidan did.' Then you will not just have prevented 20 things - you will have prevented more like 80 things from ending in the landfill." With that, my son looked me in eye and said "Mom, we can do this. My friends and I, we can do this."

    The sense of empowerment that he put forth was incredible. It needed to be captured in a bottle and shared with the world. I couldn't let his sense of empowerment be wasted.

    After talking with my neighbor, we decided that we had to do something. So, we pulled together every penny we could, begged for talented people to help, and have now seen a dream come true. Out of literally nothing but a conversation with my son in my kitchen, we have managed to launch - the Pro Social Pitch-In Planner.

    Inlu helps people coordinate events and group-gifting all in one. You can send a web invitation for any type of event and at the same time suggest that "in lieu of gifts, in lieu of collecting checks, etc" you can pitch-in as a group - for any gift, any charity, or both.

    We hoped and dreamed that my son's empowerment could be felt by many - not just kid's around their birthdays - but people in general - who need a better way to organize events and reduce waste.

    We can't believe it. We did it. Out of nothing and against many many odds - professionally and personally. We did it. Inlu has helped people raise funds to cover medical expenses, a student raise travel funds for a once in a lifetime educational experience, kids and adults gift coordination, and even small non-profits to easily raise support.

    We are so happy that people across the U.S. have been able to diminish waste, support charities in need, and get awesome stuff they will use... and keep out of the landfill.

    It is not easy for anyone to make a difference. But it is certainly worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears.

    This is my Minerva Moment.

    Posted by Monica Ostby, 8 May 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment came when I realized that the mission of the Women's Fund of the Oshkosh Area Community Foundation was exactly what I wanted to teach my teenage girls; to be empowered and to teach them how to be philanthropists. My husband and I opened a fund in each of their names and through the last 8 years they have been active in their communities and granting to innovative programming to make a difference in the lives of women of all ages. I could not be more proud of the way they are giving back to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren't the problem; they're the solution.

    Posted by slip51, 8 May 2010.

  • My Minerva Moment is happening now. I am a kindergarten teacher at a school that has been identified as one of the 5 % of the lowest performing schools in the state. During the last year I have had the most challenging class I've ever had in 12 years of teaching and decided I needed to learn additional strategies. I was introduced to Whole Brain Teaching through a colleague; using TeacherTube and the Web I began to learn the strategies. Then through someone else's Minerva Moment I was invited to attend a 6 week seminar just for WBT! I have had the amazing opportunity to see first hand how this engaging, positive & low cost (!!!!) strategy works. Blending what I have learned with previous skills, I have made tremendous gains in student achievement. My students are engaged and learning in a fun way that is continuously providing me instant feedback! I recently was asked to be on the committee writing the grant for federal monies to support a plan to improve student achievement for our school. I believe all these things are happening to me to help my community and my school to become a better place for kids and staff. I am so excited about leading the way to engaging lessons, supportive and free classroom management strategies, and instant feedback on learning. I thank all the people who have made my Minerva Moment become possible!

    Posted by liebechames, 7 May 2010.

  • I have lots of minerva moments that sound so insignificant compared to all the others I have read on here but i am a mother of three, and have chosen to take care of my uncle and aunt who are 85 and 84 years old, somedays i give so much of myself I feel depleted but always God comes through and makes it all worthwhile, especially when my uncle shaves one side of his beard and forgets the other side..I also cook five meals every other week for 21 people plus raise a big garden and still able to be a mom and wife to a wonderful man..minerva moments are a big part of my life, i am forever giving of my time and energy...

    Posted by DebWoll, 7 May 2010.

  • Sometimes I feel like the teacher from Freedom Writers. I created an afterschool program for Pacific Islander(PI) students because they have greater than a 50% drop out rate out of high school. Because my student’s aren’t exposed to opportunities, I wanted them to experience college life, something I expect of all of them, but something they don’t expect of themselves.
    The PI organization, SPICA, hosted us for the day at CSUF. Students experienced skills building workshops, student panel and campus tour. My favorite professor set up a mock lecture where they learned about PI issues. Lastly, a guest speaker spoke about what it takes to get in and went through each students transcripts.
    After this day I was proud to hear, one student had NO plans to attend college has applied and plans on going after this experience; another student has applied for a scholarship and is one of the finalist for it, when I thought no one was listening to me; and two others will be attending my alma mater, CSUF, in the fall. These youth have changed my life in a number of ways and I guess at the end of the day, I really am changing theirs.

    Posted by AshleyCheri, 7 May 2010.