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Sister Carol Weber Inducted into Regional Women’s Hall of Fame

April 21, 2017, Flint, Michigan – Sister Carol Weber, OP, co-founder and co-director of St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center, was one of seven to be inducted into the Genesee Regional Women’s Hall of Fame.

Also inducted that evening were Sister Judy Blake, CSJ, who co-founded and co-directs the center with Sister Carol; Dr. Mona Hanna-Attista, MD, the pediatrician who discovered the lead poisoning in Flint children during the recent water crisis; Dr. Susan J. Goering and Dr. Beverly Walker-Griffea, who are active in the Flint and Genesee County communities; Angie Hendershot, lead anchor at ABC-12 News in Flint; and Mildred Doran, who was lost in the Pacific Ocean in 1927 in her attempt to be the first woman to fly across the ocean.

The inductees were presented April 20 during the Eighth Annual Awards Dinner hosted by the Zonta Club of Flint at the Flint Institute of the Arts. The Zonta Club of Flint is part of Zonta International, a women’s service organization that strives to advance the status of women. The inductees’ pictures and stories will be permanently placed in the Sloan Museum in Flint.

“It was pretty overwhelming when I thought of the caliber of women that we were up there with” Sister Carol said about the induction ceremony. “It was a really powerful moment, and everybody was so attentive.”

About 14 people supported Sister Carol and Sister Judy at the ceremony, including Sister Carol’s brother and niece, and women who are employed at the N.E.W. Life Center. “The women were so moved to be there,” Sister Carol said. “It was great to see how excited they were for us.”

In her response to the award, Sister Carol said, “I just go about my day doing what I need to do because I know that’s what I’m called to do.” She sees the Center as a “work of God,” and spoke about “the hope that women can bring to Flint when we band together.” 

Sisters Carol and Judy have been working since 2000 with the people of Flint, first serving them through street ministry. They opened the N.E.W. Life Center in 2002 to offer a variety of programs, including a literacy center, employment preparation, a sewing co-op, and a food pantry. 

When Flint’s water was found to be contaminated by lead, St. Luke’s N.E.W. Life Center became a bottled water distribution center and then offered a support and nutrition program for pregnant women and mothers of small children, helping them to prepare nutritious meals to offset the effects of the lead in their children’s systems.

Read a related article by ABC-12 of Flint.


Shareholders Urged to Vote Proxies to Influence Corporate Decisions

April 7, 2017, Adrian, Michigan – Shareholders in public corporations have a unique privilege, opportunity, and responsibility: to use their proxy ballots to shape the values and decisions of those corporations.

That was the message of Adrian Dominican Sister Corinne Florek, OP, Executive Director of the Religious Communities Investment Fund, in a live-streamed April 3 talk, “How One Checkmark Can Influence Corporate Policy.” Her address was given in the auditorium of Weber Retreat and Conference Center on the Motherhouse campus of the Adrian Dominican Sisters.

She noted the strong economic influence that corporations carry: of the 150 largest economic entities, she said, 87 are corporations. Some 91 million U.S. adults own some stock, she noted, adding that most throw away or recycle their proxy votes rather than voicing their values. 

“If you own shares, you have a voice – and I’m here today to ask you to use your influence to improve corporate decision-making and creating change in the issues you care about,” Sister Corinne said. “After all, investments are your money and should be working for you.”

Sister Corinne encouraged individual shareholders to consider the values they support and the industries they would like to avoid supporting, and to ask their financial advisers to craft a portfolio that reflects these choices. Then, as individual investors, they have the right to guide the corporation’s decisions through their proxy vote.

“Proxy is just another name for a ballot that contains resolutions that are up for a vote,” Sister Corrine explained, adding that proxies also include a slate of candidates running to serve on the corporation’s Board of Directors. Resolutions can deal with issues such as environmental impacts and disclosure of the corporation’s lobbying expenses and treatment of workers. 

If shareholder resolutions receive support of 3 percent of the proxy voters, the corporation will remain in dialogue about those issues. “The proxy voting is the incentive for the corporation to stay in the dialogue,” Sister Corinne explained. When shareholders don’t vote at all, their votes are considered to be in favor of the view of the corporation’s management rather than of shareholders who are trying to make changes, she added. 

Using proxy voting to help bring more justice into the economy is not a new practice. Sister Corinne noted that the Adrian Dominican Sisters have been involved in economic justice through corporate responsibility for more than 40 years through the Congregation’s Portfolio Advisory Board (PAB). The Congregation is also working with hundreds of other faith-based organizations, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), to ensure that the corporate world reflects values of justice, care for the environment, and concern for workers and low-income people. 

Panelists included Sisters Thérèse Haggerty, OP; Joan Marconi, OP; and Frances Lombaer, OP.

A panel of Adrian Dominican Sisters spoke on their own experience of voting proxies for the Congregation. Sisters Frances Lombaer, OP, Joan Marconi, OP, and Thérèse Haggerty, OP, encouraged listeners to vote their proxies, noting that the process becomes easier with practice. “We do proxy voting because we want to support the choices that the Congregation makes through the PAB, our Portfolio Advisory Board, Sister Thérèse said. “These choices are in line with our vision statements.”

Sister Corinne concluded her talk by giving investors some ideas on how they can both diversify their portfolio and make a difference in the world.

  • Invest in high impact community development organizations that work with low-income people and communities. “This isn’t high-risk investing,” Sister Corinne said. “This is investing for high impact, which means that it’s in low-wealth, low-income, low-asset communities, to help them, to empower them” to find security, livelihoods, jobs, housing and access to credit. She added that, over 40 years of investing, the Congregation has only lost less than 1 percent of its investment. 

  • Invest in credit unions. Sister Corinne suggested taking at least some funds or assets – such as CDs or your savings account – and placing them in credit unions. “Nobody’s making a profit off these financial institutions,” she explained. “All the profits go back to making loans to the members.” Credit unions serve populations such as low-income borrowers, people of color, women, distressed areas, and rural areas – areas that big banks don’t always serve, she said. 

“Please join us in this effort to create more justice in our economy,” Sister Corinne concluded.

To watch her presentation, click here.


 

 

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