Pelosi, Kidman, Torre Help FVPF Break Ground on New International Center

Pelosi, Kidman, Torre Help FVPF Break Ground on New International Center

Demonstrating a powerful commitment to end violence, leaders from government, entertainment and sports joined experts and survivors when the Family Violence Prevention Fund broke ground on its new international conference center and exhibition hall on January 8. The star-studded ceremony featured House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, actress Nicole Kidman appearing on behalf of UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women), Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre, and actress Joan Chen, among others. In just two years, the hall and a nearby building will become a vibrant hub hosting activities designed to prevent violence in all its forms.

“In one strong voice, we have to say ‘no’ to violence against women and girls,” Academy award-winner Kidman told hundreds of people who packed the hall for the event. “The Family Violence Prevention Fund is extraordinary. This is the place where it begins.”

“The San Francisco Presidio, the crown jewel of our City, will now become home to the premier international center working to end violence against women and children,” Speaker Pelosi said. “The international center to prevent violence will bring solutions, collaboration and leadership to one of the greatest moral issues of our time. Violence harms not just individuals; it tears at the fabric of entire societies. On this former military post, it is appropriate that we will work to prevent conflict, and ease the pain it causes – in homes and in nations.”

Noting that the prevalence of violence is “staggering,” Pelosi talked about her experience visiting young children in camps in Darfur. “They had already seen too much,” she said, applauding the Family Violence Prevention Fund (FVPF) for taking on one of the most challenging and complex issues of our day.

“We intend to make this unprecedented international center a place where the world’s best thinkers come together to identify and develop strategies that prevent and stop violence against women and children,” FVPF Founder and President Esta Soler said. “We are proud to take this space at the historic Presidio – once a place of war – and turn it into a place that promotes the safety and security that individuals, families and communities deserve and need. By identifying what works in communities large and small around the globe, we will help end the stigma and defeat the shame that allows violence to continue.”

Also participating in the event was the new United States Ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich, who has been actively involved in the FVPF’s “Founding Fathers” initiative – an annual effort to enlist men to take a public stand to end violence against women and children.

Baseball’s Joe Torre discussed his personal experience growing up with a violent father. “I am so proud to support this new international center,” he said. “We won’t ignore domestic and family violence any longer.”

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright sent a video greeting, commending the FVPF and the new international center. Actress Joan Chen performed an excerpt from the documentary play, “Seven,” which left much of the audience in tears.

An Emerging Hub

Building 100, located on the Main Post of San Francisco’s historic Presidio, will be redesigned and reconstructed as a global action center to serve as a forum for international discourse, leadership training, education programs and public exhibitions designed to change attitudes and practices that harm women and children who are oppressed or exploited around the world. Architectural design was provided by BAR Architects and construction is being managed by Oliver and Company.

Fundraising for the new center began in 2003 when a group of 350 men in business, entertainment and sports joined together on Father’s Day as new “Founding Fathers” to commit their public and personal support to the international center. Each man pledged $1,000 and lent his name to a public declaration that was printed in the New York Times on Father’s Day. This tradition continues on Father’s Day each year.

The campaign received a boost when the Pelosi’s office secured a federal investment of $1.5 million for the center’s programs. Last year, the Speaker obtained an additional federal investment of $2 million for the rehabilitation of Building 100. An outstanding national volunteer leadership committee led by Judi Kanter, the Campaign Chair and former Director of EMILY’s List, is building support.

The corporate sponsors and institutions that are playing a significant role in the funding and development of the center include: The Open Square Foundation, Blue Shield of California, The David B. Gold Foundation, The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, and Macy’s. Bank of America is providing the Historic Tax Credit.

The new building will feature:

A Global Conference and Education Center
• Made possible with generous support from the Open Square Foundation, the heart of the international center is a state-of-the-art conference and education center.

Exhibit Hall
• Blue Shield of California will sponsor an interactive exhibit hall designed to engage audiences through exhibits, immersion learning experiences, and a variety of performances, film screenings, and other events. The programming will be a tool for teachers, parents, coaches and others to engage their students, children, and the general public in critical conversation about the impact of violence and the choices they face in preventing it.

Multi-Functional Classrooms
• These versatile small-group conference rooms will facilitate breakout sessions from the Conference Center, and be extensions of interactive exhibits.
• Equipped with translation services and interactive videoconference capabilities, these classrooms will support small group learning and activities, project planning, and other small group gatherings.

A Training Hub
• Judges and policymakers from around the world will share strategies, build consensus and problem solve on a wide variety of challenges that face the women, children and families whose lives they affect. Physicians, nurses and other world health leaders will share emerging research and new strategies to increase access to women’s health services and improve the quality of women’s health.

“As we break ground here, we break the silence, break through the stigma, and break down the shame that allows violence to continue,” Soler added. “Now, for the first time ever, we have a public place in a public park to deal with a public epidemic that affects every one of us. This building will be a public symbol that represents a public commitment to finally – once and for all – find solutions to this violence.”

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