Life is full of random intersections, meeting points where themes, events and movements find confluence.
It isn’t clear whether Kathy Witkowicki understood the confluence she was creating when she decided to launch her new speakers program, “Sonoma Mentoring Presents,” with Jennifer Siebel Newsom, and her husband Gavin, as the inaugural speakers.
Siebel Newsom is the omni-talented writer-director-producer who gave us “Miss Representation,” the film that eloquently exposed how stereotyped and inaccurate portrayals of women shape the visions and aspirations of girls, resulting in the radical underrepresentation of women in politics and corporate positions of power and influence. Her husband gave us a pioneering window for the acceptance of same-sex marriage as San Francisco mayor, and currently has some sort of state government job while he awaits a fresh opportunity to run for governor or the U.S. Senate.
Siebel Newsom should be every girl’s role model. She is a Stanford honors graduate and holds an MBA from its graduate school of business. She played varsity soccer and studied at the American Conservatory Theater, spent time in Hollywood appearing in TV, films and theater and, somewhere along the way, she traveled the world on assignment for Conservation International. She’s also bilingual in Spanish and founder of The Representation Project, a nonprofit building on the film’s efforts to address injustice created by gender stereotypes. Its motto appears to be Marian Wright Edelman’s declaration, “You can’t be what you can’t see.”
Siebel Newsom has also founded a film production company called Girls Club Entertainment, established, her website says, “to develop independent films focused primarily on women that educate, activate, and transform culture.”
The confluence in question is just this: January is both National Mentoring Month and National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. (It is also, lest we overlook it, National Stalking Awareness Month.)
It doesn’t take much effort to discern a theme here.
The extraordinary efforts of the Sonoma Valley Mentoring Alliance – under the take-no-prisoners tutelage of Witkowicki – have enriched and focused the lives of more than 1,200 Sonoma Valley children – girls and boys – a very sizeable number of whom have grown up into productive and at least partially-enlightened members of our community and the world at large.
That’s because one of the very best ways to give girls (and boys) a chance to reach their full potential is to match them with adults whose lives and visions are evidence and examples of what is positive and possible. And one of the best ways to keep disadvantaged kids out of the depraved delivery system that leads to human trafficking and slavery, is to match them with adults who can help monitor their lives and guide them toward outcomes of light, freedom and power.
You can become a part of that effort by becoming a mentor. Witkowicki has a waiting list of more than 100 kids waiting for a mentoring relationship.
You can also attend the Newsom event at the Sebastiani Theatre on Monday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. Tickets are available at sonomamentoring.org, and details are in the story on page A2.