02/06/2014 01:24 pm ET Updated Apr 08, 2014

Focus on Women Leaders: Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe and Athena Film Festival

Forest Whitaker takes her calls. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe so epitomizes the strength of simplicity, the Oscar winning star of Last King of Scotland-- he portrays the dictator Idi Amin-- form a likely alliance in helping young people in Africa recover from the horrors of vicious murderous rebels like Joseph Kony who, like Idi Amin, brutalized them. Whitaker founded a school for boys, to re-humanize them. Sister Rosemary founded a school to teach women to sew, specifically working pop tabs into fashionable bags. That trade allows them to survive with dignity for themselves and for the children many bore against their will. St. Monica's also serves as a safe haven and hospital for the women. Last week, Sister Rosemary met a group of journalists. She was carrying one of the bags woven of the silver aluminum tabs. Everyone at the table at Milano wanted one, but we all settled for an autographed copy of the book about her life and work, Sewing Hope, and chatted with Derek Watson, the director of a documentary about this woman of faith. Her secret: exuding serenity, Sister Rosemary exacts tough love in situations many would find impossible.

Kathryn Kolbert, a co-founder of the Athena Film Festival, likes to say, the image of leadership is a white silver haired man in his sixties. She and Melissa Silverman, seeking to change that image proudly present the Athena Film Festival in its 4th year this coming weekend at Barnard College. Focused on films showing women in leadership positions, this year's festival will screen an array of fiction and non-fiction feature-length films, including opening night's Belle, followed by Decoding Annie Parker, Short Term 12, Regina, The Book Thief, In a World, Frozen, and documentaries about Alice Walker and Geraldine Ferraro among them. Always a magnet for powerful women in the industry, the awards ceremony will honor Sherry Lansing, Callie Khouri, Kasi Lemming, and Keri Putnam. On Sunday, Kathryn Kolbert will interview Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Prize Laureate from Liberia. A remarkable woman and speaker, her words are sure to inspire, as will her outfit.

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