Call on These Tips to Improve Conference Calls

Conference CallIt’s an all-too-common scene in offices and conference rooms. You’ve been moving mountains for your client, displaying all the estimable skills you and your team were hired for. You’re juggling schedules, projects, timelines, billing hours, personalities, egos and expectations. You have time for nothing, and now you have a conference call with the client. Well, good, at least that’s something you don’t have to prepare too much for or think about, just deliver updates on your progress, see if there are any questions or additions, and keep on moving.  That’s efficient and effective, right?

Probably not, for all but the briefest encounters.  There’s a whole lot going on in a conference call that doesn’t meet the eye.  Over the airways, much can get lost in translation as non-verbal communication cues are absent. No one objected to your idea … did that mean consensus or reticence? Do participants feel engaged and energized or disenfranchised? That’s often difficult to know if those feelings aren’t purposely projected.

Yet, conference calls remain one of the most used and effective means by which we communicate with our clients, partners and teams. And while the dynamics of interaction are different from face-to-face meetings, etiquette and preparation for conference calls are just as important. Much of it is a matter of just being aware of those dynamics and employing good time and people management skills.

Here are some ideas on how you really can run meetings by phone that are efficient and effective.

  • Join the call a few minutes before the start of the meeting to focus your thoughts and demonstrate your commitment to the meeting. Follow the axiom, “If you’re on time, you’re late!”
  • Make sure everyone knows who’s on the call. If there’s a new member of your team in the meeting or someone the client might not be familiar with, introduce them at the beginning so that no one is surprised when they eventually speak up.
  • Have an agenda. Whether it’s a formal copy shared with the client or a quick list for your own eyes, it will help steer the conversation and ensure that everything important is covered.
  • Prioritize your agenda. Put the most important items at the top to guarantee you’ll get through them without running out of time.
  • Stay on topic, but be flexible. Follow your agenda to make sure you get through all your key points, but don’t be so rigid you miss allowing creative or inspiring ideas to develop from the group.
  • Make sure attendees put their calls on mute when not talking. No one enjoys listening to someone else’s crunchy potato chips.
  • Ask for questions or comments periodically. That opening can encourage input from individuals or the group and ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate.

Remember, this is your client’s time and money.  Use these tips to make each conference call productive and successful.


By Jayne Davis and Sam Burns, SDI

April 17, 2015

Do Benefits Balance Risks in Proposed Cyber Legislation?

cyber Tuesday option 3At least five bills touching upon cybersecurity may soon be introduced on Capitol Hill.  Early drafts of three primary bills, including the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s Protecting Cyber Networks Act, and the House Homeland Security Committee’s National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act share a great deal of common language, and present both opportunities and risks for the directors, officers and general counsel of private businesses.

The proposed legislation seeks to increase information sharing about cyber threats between the government and private sector on a voluntary basis.  To that end:

  • Businesses providing the government with cyber threat data would not waive intellectual property or trade secret protections on the information provided.
  • Businesses would be specifically allowed to monitor and defend their own systems, including with measures modifying or blocking data packets presenting cyber threats, perhaps also encompassing techniques such as long passive walls and proactive forensic collection such as beacons and “honey pots.”
  • Businesses monitoring their systems and sharing cyber threat information with the government and other businesses in good faith would receive some legal liability protections.

The bills also helpfully buttress the Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission’s recent joint policy statement that antitrust laws should not be roadblocks to the legitimate sharing of technical cybersecurity information, as distinct from competitively sensitive information such as prices, output or business plans.

Yet most of these positive developments for business come with catches that are worth noting:

  • In all three bills, liability protections for businesses monitoring their systems and sharing information do not extend to willful misconduct, or in the National Cybersecurity Protection Advancement Act, to gross negligence as well.

Monitoring or defensive measures, if used, must themselves be protected from unauthorized access.  And efforts by businesses to defend their computer systems may not damage others’ systems through “hack-backs.”

  • Businesses must make “reasonable efforts” to minimize, safeguard and remove personally identifying information (PII) within data, unrelated to cyber threats, that is shared with others.

This places the burden on businesses to remove PII from cyber data sought by the government, and the financial cost may be too great for many small and medium sized businesses.  Companies must then comply with federal and other restrictions on the further use of that shared data, raising the risk that businesses will lose control of the data they share.  These provisions may dis-incentivize businesses from collaborating with the government on cyber threats in the first place.

  • The Protecting Cyber Networks Act would rule out businesses sharing information directly with the Defense Department generally or the National Security Agency specifically.
  • The Protecting Cyber Networks Act would establish a private legal cause of action against the government for intentionally or willfully violating privacy and civil liberties guidelines, and provide the higher of the sum of actual damages or $1000 per violation, along with plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

Given the amount of metadata potentially involved in sharing cyber threat information, this is an invitation to class-action lawsuits.  While actions brought under this law would be directed against the government, businesses assisting the government by sharing cyber threat information may be pulled into expensive litigation as third parties.

No doubt these bills will undergo significant amendments in committee, on the floor and in conference, and be subject to considerable public debate, before possibly becoming law.  Directors, officers and general counsel should keep an eye on whether positive goals for business such as increased voluntary information sharing, legal authority for monitoring and defensive measures, and antitrust and intellectual property protections, can be balanced against the potential compliance burdens and legal risks of participating in these proposed cyber programs.


By Kevin Carroll, Quinn Emanuel, and Frank Cilluffo, SDI Cyber Risk Practice. Carroll is an expert in national security and cybersecurity issues and resident in Quinn Emanuel’s Washington, D.C. office.

SDI #CyberTuesday offers insights and commentary on cyber risk management by SDI’s trusted cybersecurity, privacy and data security expertsskilled practitioners whose decades of experience working for governments and corporations around the world distinguish them as strategists and crisis managers.

You can view previous blog posts on cyber risk management here.

April 14, 2015

The Cyber Deterrence Conundrum for Businesses

cyber Tuesday option 3Last week, together with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, we co-hosted an event that focused on cyber deterrence and international norms in cyber space. Initial presentations were made by the Chamber’s Anne Beauchesne, General Michael Hayden and SDI’s Frank Cilluffo and General Rhett Hernandez.  Some very bright minds from business and academia, and experts who have had significant responsibility in formulating U.S. policy on cybersecurity, exchanged views on many of the most pressing issues that relate to using deterrence as a key tool in defending against cyber attacks. It’s doubtful anyone who participated came away from the conversation thinking anything but this is really challenging for government and business alike.

The event certainly was timely. On April 1 the President issued an executive order authorizing sanctions on “malicious cyber actors whose actions threaten the national security, foreign policy, or economic health or financial stability of the United States.” For many businesses, the prospect of using sanctions as a tool against cyber malactors is a welcome development, particularly if attribution is becoming more certain than historically has been the case. But even here there remains  debate over what actions are clearly sanctionable, and concern over how universal the agreement of what is sanctionable, and what deterrent actions are acceptable will become. Companies, understandably, would prefer global alignment on these issues, rather than having to follow different policies in every country in which they do business.

For a deterrence policy to be effective there has to be a credible threat of consequences. Inevitably, that means that once lines are established, if they are crossed, there must be retaliation. We must demonstrate both the means and the will to act in a way that will deter future aggression.  However, for businesses there is the uneasy belief that retaliation can provoke further attacks, and abiding concern over how much information a business that has been attacked will have to share, and with whom,  to make the case for retaliation.

Fundamentally, despite the amount of attention being paid to deterrence, we are in the very early stages of sorting through the issues.  We lack agreement on basic vocabulary that would establish a common understanding upon which to build. What constitutes a “cyber attack?” What actions are acceptable as part of active response? What actions might constitute illegal use of force, potentially violating international law? Although governmental bodies around the world are grappling with these issues, progress has been extremely slow. Corporations such as Microsoft are advancing their own views on acceptable behavior (International Cybersecurity Norms, Reducing Conflict in an Internet-dependent World”). In the end, it may be that multinational companies will be the most significant influence on developing international norms.


By Tom Davis, SDI Cyber Risk Practice

SDI #CyberTuesday offers insights and commentary on cyber risk management by SDI’s trusted cybersecurity, privacy and data security expertsskilled practitioners whose decades of experience working for governments and corporations around the world distinguish them as strategists and crisis managers.

You can view previous blog posts on cyber risk management here.

April 7, 2015

Hashtag This!

Mozart HashtagIn today’s world of constant social media updates, being on top of the best strategies for attracting attention to your content is more important than ever. Why take the chance of your posts getting lost in the social media bayou when there are a few simple things you can do to boost their effectiveness. Here’s what we think are the salient points from this handy infographic, courtesy of Quicksprout.

You can have too much of a good thing: While data shows that the use of one or two hashtags in a Twitter post can improve engagement (more than double it), using more than that will cause a noticeable drop in engagement (17% on average).

Not all social networking sites operate by the same rules: Too many hashtags can be a negative on Twitter, but Instagram and Facebook posts seem to benefit greatly from the use of larger numbers of hashtags. In fact, the use of ten or more seems to give a sizeable boost on both sites. So tag away!

Google+ (yes, it’s still a thing): Google+ actually goes the extra mile and creates hashtags automatically, which can be helpful if you’re having a lapse in creativity that day. Additionally, you can always create some of your own as well to make sure your post is hitting all the right notes.

Keep these tips in mind next time you post, and don’t be afraid to tag along.


By Sam Burns, SDI, April 1, 2015

Is Your Company At Risk of Suffering a Cyber Attack for Political or Propaganda Reasons?

cyber Tuesday option 3The following post is the second in a series authored by Rob Dannenberg intended to educate readers about the nature of cyber risk and assist in assessing and improving organizational ability to effectively prepare for and respond to the evolving threat.  Rob wrote on The Rapidly Changing World of Cyber Riskin his previous post.  Here he examines how companies must consider their political, foreign policy or national security activities as part of cyber risk management.

In the context of the cyber risk environment with nation-state actors such as Iran and North Korea (and non-state actors such as Anonymous) attacking targets for political and propaganda reasons, it is important for enterprises to make an honest assessment of their risk of being targeted by one of these mal-actors as a first step in preparing to manage the risk.

It is also advantageous to understand that nation-state cyber actors devote a significant amount of resources surfing the Internet and media for potential targets.  While not infinite, the resources countries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea can devote to Internet-based targeting are considerable and far more in depth than commonly imagined.  Very few private sector companies devote adequate resources to understanding what is said or written about their firm and its activities on the Internet.  Fewer still examine that information from the perspective of a potential nation-state mal-actor.

By suggesting awareness of political/foreign policy exposure I am not suggesting a firm should not be engaged in those activities.  However, a firm should understand the  risk of it being targeted if those activities come to the attention of a potential adversary.

Let’s start with some basic questions that should help you understand where your firm might be on a potential targeting matrix.  It may not be necessary to explore in-depth the answers to all of these questions, but a general assessment of this risk should be available to the firm’s risk managers.

The framework for these questions lies in asking why you would be targeted for political or propaganda purposes.

Are the firm’s senior executives publicly engaged in political, foreign policy-related or national security policy-related activities?

  • If so, does the firm routinely monitor the activities to assess how they would be perceived by a potential adversary?

What is the firm’s international profile?  In which countries does it operate and is it engaged in political, foreign or national security policy activities abroad?

Is there awareness in the firm of the political/foreign policy/security policy activities of the firm’s major clients?  Is the firm part of the critical infrastructure or does it have enterprise significance for those clients?

  • What information is publicly available about the relationship between the firm and clients?

In addition to having little awareness of political risk exposure, many firms fail to do an honest triage of their data and systems and fail to understand what may be at risk.  The executive correspondence compromised in the Sony Pictures and Entertainment attack is a classic example of failure to apply The Washington Post test* to data.  Here are some basic questions to consider in that triage.

What data, if exposed, would cause significant reputational damage to the firm?

What data/systems critical to your enterprise  would interrupt or halt business operations if compromised?

What client/customer data does the firm hold and what would be the effect on the firm or the firm’s clients if this information was compromised or lost?

What is the firm’s reliance upon subcontractors for critical enterprise operations and what would be the effect on the firm if an attack was directed at critical subcontractors?

  • Does the firm have any knowledge of the cybersecurity or resiliency discipline of critical subcontractors?

What information is publicly available on the firm’s senior executives, the firm’s organizational hierarchy and client/subcontractor relationships? (This is key targeting data for a potential adversary.)

What sort of redundancy does the firm’s information and data processing architecture have?

  • How much is managed internally and how much is outsourced?

Does the firm have any closed systems, i.e., systems not accessible by the Internet?

How is executive correspondence processed and retained?

Does the firm have an insider threat program?

Does the firm monitor the social media activity of current and former employees — especially those who have/had access to critical systems and data?

Does the firm periodically review access privileges and adjust to a strict “need to know” standard?

Use these  starter questions to help develop an understanding of how the firm could become a target and what may be at risk.

*Organizations are regularly counseled to ask whether they would mind reading about data they possess on the front page of The Washington Post.


By Robert Dannenberg, SDI Cyber Risk Practice

In an upcoming post  we will take a look at cyber crisis management planning and strategies.

SDI #CyberTuesday offers insights and commentary on cyber risk management by SDI’s trusted cybersecurity, privacy and data security expertsskilled practitioners whose decades of experience working for governments and corporations around the world distinguish them as strategists and crisis managers.

You can view previous blog posts on cyber risk management here.

March 31, 2015

Who’s Afraid of the Big, Bad, Cyber Wolf?

cyber Tuesday option 3One would think that by spring of 2015, every business in the country would not only admit to fears about their cybersecurity posture, but be actively engaged in strengthening their capability to effectively respond to cyber attacks. In large measure that is true. For example, the Association of Finance Professionals says  71% of its member organizations having increased spending dedicated to mitigating possible cyber attacks over the past year and a quarter, boosting spending by at least 50%. But what about the others? The outliers?

There is another line of thought emerging which is very interesting.  There are some who believe that the very reputation of a company provides sufficient protection against cyber threats. The reasoning goes like this. The biggest brands can easily sustain the costs of a significant cyber breach. Apostles of this reasoning point to high profile breaches like those sustained by Sony or Target and suggest that the actual damage to the bottom line is not big enough to warrant significant investment in data security.

Taken at face value, Sony’s estimate that the costs of investigation and remediation activities stemming from the recent breach at Sony Pictures and Entertainment would be $35 million through March 31, 2015, seems a drop in the bucket for a company of Sony’s size.  However, the Ponemon Institute’s 2014 Global Report on the Cost of Cyber Crime states that  investigation and initial remediation activities like incident response and management represent about a third of the cost of a breach.  This suggests Sony’s cost might approach $100 million. One assumes companies of Sony’s size do not readily embrace $100 million losses, but can sustain them and continue to do well. Yet consider that these losses may tell only part of the story.

Begin with the obvious. Sony is a technology company. Its reputation clearly has taken a hit, given that this latest breach was preceded by the Sony Playstation breach in 2011 which cost an estimated $177 million. Suffering two high profile breaches in a short period will call into question security practices, a likelihood sure to play out in the litigation ensuing from the Sony Pictures breach.  Amy Pascal, Co-chair of Sony Pictures, lost her job after embarrassing information taken during the breach was made public. The information that was taken and released alienated employees, compromised strategic plans, and altered production schedules. Perhaps even more significantly, we do not know the extent of the intellectual property that was taken, and how much potential future revenue will be foregone because of its loss. This last point is worth examination. The loss of intellectual property can seriously compromise the future plans of any company.

Your brand and reputation may well contribute to your resiliency. High end, well established brands with loyal customer bases will have a far better opportunity to mitigate their losses from a breach than will brands with little reach and modest reputation. But make no mistake, the brand and reputation will be affected. Just how much will depend on how well the company does in managing response to the breach. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that you will not suffer multiple breaches, each taking its toll, and collectively calling into question how seriously the company takes its responsibility to protect its data. It is fiscally prudent to ensure that the practices you adopt in cybersecurity represent recognized best practices.


By Tom Davis, SDI Cyber Risk Practice

SDI #CyberTuesday offers insights and commentary on cyber risk management by SDI’s trusted cybersecurity, privacy and data security expertsskilled practitioners whose decades of experience working for governments and corporations around the world distinguish them as strategists and crisis managers.

You can view previous blog posts on cyber risk management here.

March 24, 2015

6 Ways to Reduce Work Distractions

Office Distraction 2The workday is full of endless distractions. Just looking out your window can provide hours of entertainment. My view of K Street in Washington, D.C. features a steady stream of business people walking briskly to important appointments and lunch meetings; tourists who I assume wandered too far from the National Mall in search of a cheap lunch spot; an endless supply of impatient drivers honking their horns in bumper-to-bumper traffic; and joggers … so many joggers.

But looking out your window is just one of countless tempting diversions, many easily accessible and threatening to your professional success; none so insidious as your digital tools. Everything from the world wide web to your handy-dandy smartphone can cause you to lose focus on that important report and throw you into a tailspin of mindless clicking and consumption of shallow entertainment news.

To reduce work distractions and keep your employers swooning over your performance, consider these six simple steps:

  1. Dedicate a couple minutes each hour to decompress

It’s difficult to stay focused on your work with so many distractions just a click away. Tantalizing Buzzfeed headlines and pop culture listicles lure us from serious research, and within seconds our day is derailed with thoughts of the 15 stunning photos that will make you want to see the world, and 21 dogs who made poor life choices. (As I write this, I’m fighting the urge to revisit photos number 4 and 17, respectively.)

Rather than completely eliminate these fun yet unproductive temptations, dedicate a couple minutes each hour to indulge. If you’re experiencing writer’s block, a tough equation or simply need to give your eyes a rest from a spreadsheet, shifting focus for those few minutes can refresh your mind and stimulate your creativity.

  1. Schedule your time on social media

There’s no better place to find our favorite listicles, gifs, and videos than on social media, which reigns as the top deterrent of productivity. According to a report conducted by Business Insider, Americans spend more time on social media than any other Internet activity, including email. That’s great news for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the countless other social apps taking up storage on our smartphones; bad news for your employer.

To avoid wasting hours on social media, and possible disciplinary action from your boss, schedule your time on social media. Allot 10 minutes before the work day begins and maybe 10 minutes over your lunch break. That way, you’ll feed your appetite for social connectivity without wasting billable hours.

  1. When in the office, keep your smartphone out of sight if not being used for business

It’s hard to disconnect from social media, especially when you see new alerts popping up on your phone from the corner of your eye. Sure, we make valiant efforts to fight temptation and tell ourselves Twitter can wait, but most of the time the desire to know who retweeted our hilarious commentary on Hillary’s email-gate is too great. The best way to avoid such a conundrum is to keep our phones out of sight as much as possible while in the office. It won’t be easy, but it will increase your focus and productivity.

  1. Don’t stop for every email

The average person receives approximately 105 emails per day. If you stop to check every incoming email or read every message popup before it fades, you lose momentum and productivity. Give yourself a time interval, say every 15 to 30 minutes to check email (unless you’re expecting something from the boss). If Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer can be successful without email, chances are you can cut back and be just fine.

  1. Avoid music with lyrics

White noise in the backdrop of the workday can be a stress reliever and help you keep focus. Spotify, Pandora and YouTube can set the rhythm and help keep spirits high, but if you’re hoping to avoid distractions, you’ll also need to avoid some of your favorite channels. Taylor Swift’s sick beats are great when you’re getting ready for a night on the town, but won’t help you prepare for a client meeting.

To reduce distraction, avoid music with lyrics. Jazz or classical stations are great for relaxing, filler noise and won’t tempt you show off your sweet dance moves in the middle of the office.

  1. Plan your day (as best as you can)

When you have a daunting work load and everything requires immediate attention, it’s easy to stare at your computer screen and let yourself become overwhelmed by your to-do list. Without a plan of attack, you leave yourself open to any distraction that will keep you from starting your busy day.

Creating a plan will help overcome the onset of professional paralysis when staring down the barrel of an action-packed day. List your tasks in order of importance, and assign a time limit to keep you on track.

Of course, there will be days that are completely unpredictable and you’re hit with one urgent task after another, rendering your plan irrelevant. But on a regular basis, planning out your work day will keep you organized, reduce stress and help you overcome the limitless distractions that coincide with being overwhelmed.

Now having read this, how many of you clicked on the photos and song titles while at work? If it was during your allotted few minutes this hour, well, good for you.


By Nicole Tieman, SDI, March 19, 2015

The Rapidly Changing World of Cyber Risk

cyber Tuesday option 3The following post introduces a series that will educate readers about the nature of cyber risk and assist in assessing and improving the ability to effectively prepare for and respond to the evolving threat.

The world of private sector cyber risk changed forever in 2014.  While there has always been cyber risk to enterprises from criminals, hackers, or hacktivist groups with criminal or political agendas, most of this activity was directed at firms that had some awareness they were at risk of cyber attack and had undertaken some preparation to manage the risk. What we saw in 2014 for the first time in any meaningful sense was attacks on second or third order targets in the United States by nation-state cyber actors for political or propaganda reasons.  Two cases illustrate how the risk changed in 2014.

In October 2013, Sheldon Adelson, chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands,  gave a talk at Yeshiva University in which he suggested demonstrating to Iran the potential risk of their nuclear weapons aspirations by the United States launching a nuclear missile and detonating it in a remote spot in the desert of Iran.  Adelson’s remarks, when leaked, provoked a strong reaction from Iran. Four months later Las Vegas Sands suffered a massive cyber attack in which — among other effects — the attackers rewrote a piece of the firm’s Visual Basic code to destroy data on the firm’s systems and exfiltrate personal data on the firm’s clients and customers. Forensic evidence linked the attackers to servers in Iran.  In February 2015, U.S. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, confirmed the attack was conducted by Iran.

In late 2013 and early 2014, Sony Pictures and Entertainment (SPE) was working on a film called “The Interview” in which the CIA hires operatives to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.  On November 21, 2014, a number of SPE senior executives received extortionary emails from a group called God’s Apostles. Most of the executives thought the emails were SPAM and simply deleted them. The following day a massive cyber attack was executed on SPE in which intellectual property was stolen, privileged executive correspondence was stolen and leaked, Twitter accounts were taken over, sensitive salary information was leaked and terabytes of data destroyed. The enterprise was effectively shut down.  Although the main attack was purportedly conducted by a group called Guardians of Peace, forensic research suggested and U.S. Intelligence later confirmed, the attack was carried out by North Korea.

In both cases the targets had not previously considered themselves at risk of state sponsored cyber assault and were thus unprepared to manage that sort of risk.  Significantly, to the attackers, North Korea and Iran, there was no significant consequence to their attacks and tremendous political and propaganda value.  They now understand the impact of attacks on second and third order targets in the United States.

This message is not lost on other potential cyber malactors with a political, propaganda or terrorist agenda, either nation-state or non-state.  The risk has gone up immensely for U.S. firms and it is incumbent on firms to more aggressively work to understand and manage this risk.


By Robert Dannenberg, SDI Cyber Risk Practice

Where does your firm stand in the target matrix for cyber malactors?  We’ll address this in an upcoming post in the series.

SDI #CyberTuesday offers insights and commentary on cyber risk management by SDI’s trusted cybersecurity, privacy and data security expertsskilled practitioners whose decades of experience working for governments and corporations around the world distinguish them as strategists and crisis managers.

You can view previous blog posts on cyber risk management here.

March 17, 2015

March Signifies Helen Reddy Song, “I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar”

Betty McIntoshOne hundred years old, how else is Betty McIntosh remarkable? She gave 40 of those years to our nation in the field of intelligence. Yes, she was a spy, one of the few courageous women to work overseas for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during World War II, and then for the agency it generated, the CIA. Although very much in a male environment, she took a back seat to no one. What did she do? Once a spy, always a spy – she’s not saying, even now, other than use her communications background to the fullest.

Betty turned 100 March 1, the first day of Women’s History Month. It’s a fitting coincidence given her career and pioneering spirit. But it’s no coincidence that she along with other exceptional historic and contemporary women land in our thoughts this month.
Women’s History Month began in 1978 as a weeklong celebration in a California school district. By 1987 it had caught on across the country and Congress proclaimed March the month of celebration.

This year, SDI applauds another very accomplished woman honored. SDI client LUNGevity chose the month as a platform to name Dr. Julie Brahmer, groundbreaking researcher in immunotherapy for lung cancer patients, its March LUNGevity Hero. In its release on the announcement, LUNGevity captured the essence of what constitutes entry into the fellowship of notable women: “LUNGevity is fortunate to be witnessing first-hand the extraordinary impact Dr. Brahmer’s work has had and will continue to have on those fighting the disease.  We are entering a revolutionary time for lung cancer research and Dr. Brahmer is at the forefront.”

Beyond our nation’s borders, Sunday marked International Women’s Day, an annual event celebrated on March 8 since 1911 that ever more creatively refocuses attention on women’s political, social and economic impact in the world, and the barriers that remain to full equality.

In one example, the Clinton Foundation removed images of women icons from public media across New York to call attention to gender equality and drive online traffic to its “No Ceilings” initiative launched the same day. No Ceilings is a data-driven path to full participation by women in the 21st century.

In another, Vital Voices sponsored 72 Mentoring Walks in over 51 countries to connect women leaders with upcoming generations in a mentoring exercise, building supportive bonds and momentum. Vital Voices is an incubator and accelerator of extraordinary women around the globe who demonstrate leadership potential in their communities, often in the face of great odds.

SDI salutes the sung and unsung women who rise beyond their times and circumstances as enduring role models for generations to come.

Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day are needed reminders of where we’ve been, and where we’re going.


By Jayne Davis, SDI, March 12, 2015

Vital Voices Global Partnership and Plan International Host U.S. Premiere of India’s Daughter

Vital Voices - India's Daughter

Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto, and Film Director Leslee Udwin Join Film Premiere and Panel Discussion

NEW YORK, March 10, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Yesterday, Vital Voices Global Partnership and Plan International hosted the U.S. premiere of India’s Daughter, a feature-length documentary from the award-winning director and producer Leslee Udwin and distributed by Women Make Movies. The film details the aftermath of the 2012 Delhi gang rape that shook the Indian subcontinent and sparked heated dialogue on violence against women and girls around the world which has continued to spark more controversy since the Indian government has now banned the film from airing in that country.

India’s Daughter reveals the shocking, ingrained cultural norms and viewpoints on women that persist globally. The film features detailed interviews with the perpetrators of the crime, uncovering attitudes symptomatic of a culture of impunity in which violence against women goes unchecked. Exposing an understanding these points of view is critical to addressing the issue of violence against women openly in society. “The rapists are not the disease – they are symptoms”, said Leslee Udwin, “Gender-inequality is the primary tumor and rape, trafficking, child marriage, female foeticide, honor killings and so on, are the metastases. If we wish to tackle this issue effectively, we must address these attitudes and the mindset they inform.”

For over 17 years, Vital Voices has partnered with both women and men who are working to end violence against women. These leaders work to help advance the full implementation of laws, increase public awareness around this issue, and contribute to the creation of a world where women are free from violence. Plan International has been campaigning for girls’ rights across the globe since 2007. Their grassroots work empowers girls to realize their rights and supports them to stand up against violence and discrimination.

India’s Daughter shows the horror of gender-based violence.  But it also shows it is possible to bring about change starting at the community level, with basic things like ensuring that the education young people receive — and by extension their families — includes building an understanding of and respect for gender equality,” says Tessie San Martin, President & CEO of Plan International USA and Alyse Nelson, President & CEO of Vital Voices. “The film also demonstrates the importance of investing in and working with women and men who are the frontlines of change; it is critical to support these leaders who advocate for change, ensure that perpetrators are held accountable and that survivors receive the needed services and justice they deserve.”

Meryl Streep opened the evening’s program, leading a traditional candle-lighting ceremony in honor of the 2012 gang rape victim Jyoti Singh, a 23-year-old medical student, who died as a result of the attack. “This moving documentary is harrowing not only for its heartbreaking, unflinching look at a young woman’s life brutally ended, but for the intimate, clear eyed look at the young men who broke her, and their defenders,” said Streep, “It forces a look at the mindset that must be made to know it has no place in the civilized world.”

Freida Pinto closed the evening with a rallying call to action: “I’m calling on girls and women, boys and men everywhere to watch this incredible film and then take action: Where you see abuse – report it. Where you witness discrimination – speak out. Let’s make sure that Jyoti Singh’s ultimate legacy is a world free from violence against women and girls.”

About Plan International
Plan International is one of the oldest and largest children’s development organisations in the world. We work in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas to promote girls’ and boys’ rights and lift millions of children out of poverty. Our vision is of a world in which all children realise their full potential in societies that respect people’s rights and dignity.

About Vital Voices
Vital Voices invests in women leaders who improve our world. For more than 17 years, we have partnered with women in over 140 countries to increase economic opportunity, improve political and public leadership, and to end violence against women. Our programs are built upon a foundational belief – that women are essential to progress in their communities. Our world cannot move forward without their full participation.


Anna Rotrosen
Vital Voices Global Partnership