The Thrill of Swanee Hunt

   •    March 18, 2013

This article was originally published by DuJour Magazine.

On a foggy winter morning in Cambridge, Massachusetts, inside a sprawling 19th-century house with 10 fireplaces, a Chinese terra-cotta warrior and a group of George Segals, 13 women from war-torn nations, including Afghanistan, Colombia, Liberia, Syria and Myanmar, gathered in a room the owner calls her ballroom. A harp and baby grand piano filled one corner. Fringed lamps, tables and antique couches were arranged in groupings for maximum social lubrication, and the walls were hung with a tasteful if eclectic art collection, featuring the owner’s own photography from global travels, portraits of her parents, folk paintings from the Balkans and African masks. Servants quietly replenished coffee urns and silver platters of quiche.

While one woman lectured the group on “the three C’s of communication,” a second woman, 62, petite with close-cropped blond hair, slipped into the room in stocking feet, slacks and a plain sweater, completely unobtrusive—except for the African gray parrot perched on her shoulder. The women looked up and met their hostess, Swanee Hunt. They were beginning a weeklong seminar of training, networking and encouragement as “peacemakers” at Hunt’s Institute for Inclusive Security, which identifies women leaders in countries ravaged by war and grooms them to be power players.
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