Lake Forest resident Connie Duckworth, 2012 recipient of the UNICEF Chicago Humanitarian Award, delivers the third program in "The Resilient Woman Speaker Series" at Woodlands Academy of the Sacred Heart on Thursday, Feb. 20.
Her presentation, "Hope, Resilience and Rugs: an Innovative Enterprise and Afghan Women," is open to the public at 10:30 a.m. at the school, 760 East Westleigh Road, Lake Forest.
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The title of the presentation reflects on ARZU Inc., which was founded in 2004 by Duckworth, who serves pro bono as its chairman/CEO. ARZU, which means "hope" in Dari, helps Afghan women weavers and their families break the cycle of poverty by providing them steady income and access to education and health care by selling the hand-knotted rugs they weave at home.
ARZU operates as a "for-benefit" corporation, using private sector practices to create jobs in desperately poor rural villages where little opportunity exists.
Duckworth is currently a trustee of Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company and a director of Russell Investment Group and Steelcase Inc. She serves on the boards of The Wharton School in Philadelphia, the Interfaith Youth Core in Chicago and NorthShore University HealthSystem, in Evanston, where Duckworth was the first woman to be named chairman of the board.
She also is a member of the U.S.-Afghan Women's Council, a public/private partnership aligned with the U.S. State Department, and past chair of the Committee of 200, the organization of leading women entrepreneurs and corporate business executives in the U.S.
In addition, Duckworth co-authored a primer on entrepreneurship titled "The Old Girls Network: Insider Advice for Women Building Businesses in a Man's World." She also was honored as Woman Extraordinaire by the Chicago International Women Associates in 2012.
The theme for the current school year at Woodlands Academy is "The Resilient Sacred Heart Woman." Graduating women of courage, confidence and compassion is Woodlands Academy's four-year goal.
For more information, visit www.woodlandsacademy.org.