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In 1981 David Gershon and Gail Straub founded Empowerment Institute to explore the question: how do you empower people to grow and realize their full potential? They wanted to shift the focus from fixing problems and healing the past, to focusing on what we want for our lives, our organizations, our communities, and our world – and how to achieve it. Enabling people to envision and realize their dreams was the approach they called “empowerment.” The term “empowerment” was new in the vernacular of transformation, as was their approach. This transformative social innovation soon began attracting attention.
People came to learn about empowerment for themselves, their organizations, their communities, and their causes. They came from all over North America, Europe and Latin America, but also from Afghanistan, Darfur, Rwanda, South Africa, China, Russia, and India.
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Gail Straub, co-founder and Executive Director of Empowerment Institute, is one of the world’s leading authorities on women’s empowerment. As part of this focus, she co-founded IMAGINE: A Global Initiative for the Empowerment of Women to help women heal from violence, build strong lives, and contribute to their community. This initiative applies the Institute’s empowerment methodology to the United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal “to promote gender equality and empower women.” IMAGINE initiatives are under way in Afghanistan, Brazil, India, Jordan Kenya, Nigeria, Sudan and South Africa.
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Dozens of corporations and non-profits have been trained or formed strategic partnerships to implement Empowerment Institute’s methodology. Some of the larger or more well know clients include:
Empowerment Institute’s non-profit research arm, Global Action Plan, has received the following foundation support for its research and development initiatives around behavior change, community empowerment and sustainable development.
Photos of David and Gail are by Dion Ogust.