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Speaking Up

Realizing dialogue is the foundation from which we can solve myriad problems, Dialogue on Diversity Inc., a Washington, DC-based educational organization, sponsored its first Legislative Issues Symposium for women leaders from public-service, nonprofit and business sectors earlier this year.

The round-table meeting, which founder Cristina Caballero plans to make an annual event, tackled issues such as education, health care, the federal budget and affirmative action-all from the perspective of the often underrepresented constituency of ethnic women.

"We're encouraging entrepreneurs of all nationalities to actively participate in the developing political system," explains Caballero. "Certain doors need to be opened. We don't just want a piece of the pie because we're different. But there are still things we haven't learned and ways we aren't included."

Ranking the legislative issues of greatest concern to minority women, Dialogue on Diversity determined that the most important issues are health care, the federal budget, women as leaders in political and social action, education, and affirmative action. Caballero is compiling a report of the views raised at the symposium, which will be presented to the president.

Yet merely getting the report in the right hands isn't going to satisfy Caballero. "We want [these petitions] to be not only heard," she says, "but responded to."

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This article was originally published in the November 1996 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Speaking Up.

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