Tomorrow’s Women was co-founded in 2003 by humanitarian Rachel Kaufman, artist/filmmaker Debra Sugerman, and peace activist/writer Anael Harpaz. These women believed that the decades of violence and conflict between Palestinians and Israelis would never end if left to politicians and governments, and felt that empowered young women had the greatest chance of creating peace in their countries.
Debra, an experienced artist working with disparate cultures stateside, knew the power of art, and the ways in which it could be used to break down perceived barriers between enemies. She shared the idea of creating a peace camp that would use art and movement to introduce the two cultures to each other in a non-confrontational manner. Rachel felt that the program would also need a robust dialogue component to help facilitate deep listening and authentic speaking, and then invited Anael Harpaz, the program’s Israeli co-creator, to join the 100% volunteer-led initiative to create the first camp in New Mexico in 2003.
The three women faced obstacles coordinating with Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel to get the first groups of girls safely to the United States. These pioneering teenagers who have now become young professionals were forever transformed by their connections, as were the co-founders:
Don Delaski of the deLaski Family Foundation provided the founders seed funding based on his belief in ameliorating the space between the politics and reality of daily life in Palestine and Israel. He believed the camp would become a haven for deep, interpersonal work, essential lessons in conflict resolution, and the empowerment of young women.
Dottie Indyke, Executive Director (2007-2019) grew the organization from its early years into a thriving force for peace. Under her tenure, she increased the staff and program presence in Israel and Palestine and implemented the formal Young Leader Program ensuring that young women who attended camp would receive continued support and leadership training back home. She also developed Young Leader Speaking Tours and provided intensive mentorship and connection to countless Senior Young Leaders who continue to be peacemakers to this day. By establishing a committed network of volunteers, donors, and organizational partnerships, Dottie ensured the continuity of this profound work. In the spring of 2019, the organization announced a new Executive Director, Tarrie Burnett, who has led the transition to Tomorrow’s Women.
We believe that when equipped with the tools, skills, and confidence to lead, the power of just one extraordinary woman can transform conflict with strength and compassion. We thank the founders and all those that have supported this vision and commitment to a more peaceful and just world.
This origin story would not be complete without acknowledging the deep and horrific loss of our beloved friend and sister, Bessan Abuelaish, an ‘04 TW Alumna. We honor Bessan, her two sisters and cousins who died during Israeli rocket fire in Gaza in 2009. May they rest in peace.