BE A WARRIOR FOR YOUR DREAMS
WE FIGHT FOR WHAT IS CLOSEST TO OUR HEARTS
Lili Fournier is a renaissance woman whose powerful personal success programming brought her recognition as a leading pioneer in advancing the human potential movement. The award-winning Quest blazed a trail on PBS. Her life-changing programs were seen by millions of viewers over a decade in the U.S. and Canada. Her leading-edge work helped open the airwaves across North America to spiritual programming to inspire people to live meaningful purpose driven lives.
Lili has been a dreamer and a fighter all her life.
The dream of Women’s Day Live is very much alive and ready to happen for March 8, 2024 ! Lili’s Epic Quest to fight for democracy and to help realize an equitable future for the world’s women and girls is now legendary.
9/11 forever changed the trajectory of her life.
Lili has learned a thing or two about risk and adversity and overcoming hard challenges. She knows what it takes to achieve big goals, rising to the top of her field in several successful careers.
“The journey of a million miles began on 9/11. I felt an existential threat to the future of humanity was just around the corner. It was a Totalitarian playbook I knew well. Divide and conquer. Us and them. This powerful prophetic vision showed me the rise of fascism, the threat of Global antisemitism, the assault on women’s rights and freedom and the attack on the future pillars of democracy.
I dedicated my life to the mission to produce Women’s Day Live, a live global benefit concert to accelerate investment in women’s economic empowerment. I felt that empowering and advancing the leadership role of women was the key to many of the critical issues facing humanity and was definitely a solution to protecting the future of democracy. I’ve been all in since 2010. We came close five times. I made a vow on 9/11, “to protect democracy at all costs” and “Never Again”. I clearly meant it. I’ve kept it. It’s cost me no less than everything. I could never give up. Given the stakes could not be higher.
We devised the innovative Heart in Action Global Humanitarian Campaign – the biggest Give Back Movement to raise urgently needed Humanitarian Aid to help feed hungry children and their families. We would have built over all these years a powerful platform for global advocacy, to raise sustainable sources of funding, and a global communications network to align women’s voice, leadership and power. To organize, mobilize and energize women and youth around the world to fight for our rights.
Everything I prophesied and warned about over the past two decades has come true. It’s no solace to be right. The atrocities of October 7th are gut-wrenching as is the war. As is the rise in global terrorism and antisemitism. Democracy is dangerously on the line. Victory is the only option.
The power of music could not be more important than in this catastrophic time of pain and loss on a global scale no one could have imagined. The confluence of world events gives us this exponential opportunity. To use the healing power of music at this heart-breaking moment, to share our common humanity and our hopes for the future, something we desperately need now.
Women’s Day Live will bring a unifying day for humanity. We are stronger together. If ever there was a time for everyone of us and all of our heroes and cultural creatives to speak out against hate, it is now.
We need moral and courageous leaders to inspire the world to rise to this most consequential moment in world history. The future of humanity is in our hands. As my dearest mentor and Patron of Women’s Day Live, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of blessed memory always said, “Let’s make this humanity’s finest hour”. This is our moment of truth as a human family.
The Dream of Women’s Day Live Realized. March 8, 2024
The time for Women’s Day Livev is now. We simply must do right by the world’s women and children and the hungry people we can help. It’s a question of life or death for many. Give a helping hand to our suffering family now. To not make the kind of global and local impact I know we are capable of making right now, in this catastrophic and most severe global humanitarian crisis in modern history would be too heart-breaking.
She learned early about how painful it is to bear the brunt of hate and prejudice, to not belong, and committed herself to fight for justice, freedom and democracy when she grew up. She felt that empowering people personally, could make the biggest impact in creating positive social change.
As a child she experienced man’s inhumanity to man firsthand, when her parents fled a communist regime where she grew up facing a daily diet of hate, fear and oppression. She was the wrong religion, nationality and gender. If she made it home after school without being chased, bullied or beaten it was a good day. She didn’t want any child to ever have to face this kind of hatred growing up.
The American Dream and the promise of Freedom burned bright in her child’s heart. She was always told ‘you can’t, you’re a girl. She always answered “Yes, I can” and was often beaten for the best in her. She spoke seven languages. English was her fifth language.
She moved to Israel as a child. It was the first time in her life that she felt safe and experienced what freedom meant. The freedom to be who she was and to express herself without the fear. Only people who have never known freedom, truly treasure the profound preciousness of what freedom means. As a new immigrant she was chosen to give a speech and present flowers to Prime Minister Ben Gurion when he visited their school in this new town built in the Negev dessert. One of her most treasured childhood memories. She was devastated when her family chose to move to Canada.
After a couple of decades of a successful career as a cog in the wheel of making television and films, first blazing a trail as Canada’s first female Assistant Director (with Ilona Herzberg) she went on to work as a Script Supervisor, then Producer and Director for Television shows, TV series, and films for ABC, Universal, Showtime, Paramount, Global, CFTO, et al, and as an Associate Director, from live concert specials to major multiple-camera dramas.
Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion with the legendary Peter O’Toole, for 20th Century Fox and Astral – was her all -time favorite major multi-camera drama and her favorite star. He was as wild as she was. They got on like a house on fire.
In 1992 she pulled off an impossible feat, having just learned about the By My Spirit Concert and International Spiritual Gathering in Toledo, Spain just months before. She ended up producing the Television event, actually saving the event from being cancelled as funding was not coming through. She invested her own funds to secure a 9-camera mobile unit and the best Production team in Spain. Two global events including the Olympics made equipment and production teams scarce. Funding came through at the final hour for the Concert.
Placido Domingo and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra with Zubin Mehta in the presence of Queen Sofia of Spain enthralled the world.
This tribute to peace and co-existence was led by Nobel Peace Laureate, Eli Wiesel. This is everything she cared about. Years later she did a profoundly moving interview with him some years before he died.
She also had a Canadian crew filming her documentary “Expulsion & Memory”, a tribute to the survival of the Jewish soul and the meaning of Jewish identity. This featured the King of Spain and the President of Israel, in a historic reconciliation Ceremony for the 500 -year commemoration of the Jews Expulsion from Spain.
Right before the Reconciliation ceremony at the synagogue in Madrid, which had room for only 300 dignitaries who had vied for a place and came from around the world to attend, and as the doors were closing behind the King of Spain and the President of Israel being ushered in, the Chairman of the Synagogue held out his hand to Lili who was filming on the red carpet with her crew.
He said “Mrs. Fournier, won’t you join us”. Such a moment of respect for her immense efforts to help make the Universal Spiritual Gathering happen, she will never forget.
Media Visionary. Plays a Pioneering role in the Human Potential Movement.
After she got knocked off a flight to India that was blown up by Terrorists, she made a VOW in gratitude for getting the privilege to raise her children that she would only make “Television that matters” and she set off to make her own shows and started to present the Quest. Always ahead of her times, she was rejected endlessly. Mind Body Spirit was not exactly a mainstream topic. It was Greek actually. She was considered way out there. Critically acclaimed as the best of its genre for its in-depth approach to contemporary life issues, the Quest featured some of the world’s most influential spiritual and business leaders and best-selling authors on how to achieve success with significance. The Quest presented the concepts of the Hero’s Journey and Universal principles on the spiritual path to success.
She started with 12 markets and worked full out for years to expand syndication to reach 90 million households across the U.S. She actually sat with programmers one at a time at the Annual Broadcast meetings and assured them that the Quest and Deepak were not keeping people away from Jesus. It was Ron Santora, the head of WNED, Western New York who stood up before 200 programmers and said they have a Church on every corner in Buffalo, and they never received one complaint about the Quest. In fact, it was a Fund-raising Hit and a People’s Choice Favorite for their audience.
This one courageous man who spoke up for the Quest, tripled the syndication across the country. The Quest also aired on 6 Canadian networks, in Europe and Israel. Lili was passionately committed to using the power of media to help people build their field of dreams and live purpose driven lives. Many people she met in different cities over the years said the Quest changed their lives. California was the most successful market for the Quest.
“It’s great to be #1. A trusted leader in personal development.” In its vanguard study on Mega Trends in America, the leading Ad Agency of the time, Chiat Day (Apple’s Think Different Campaign) cited SPIRITUAITY and chose the Quest, published by Simon & Schuster as the best personal growth product in the U.S. marketplace. The Quest also became the best-selling video off the air amongst all TV Networks in Canada and was a Pledge success raising millions for PBS’s Fundraising efforts.
WOMEN OF WISDOM AND POWER - After Lili’s award-winning 3 hour Women of Wisdom and power specials aired on PBS, which also included a 2 hour live pledge show from the WLIW studios in New York she was flooded with stories from women across the U.S. They said the extraordinary women featured, like Jane Goodall, Gloria Steinem, Alanis Morissette, and Shirley MacLaine lit a fire under them and gave them the courage to go for their dreams.
Realizing the immensity of what this meant, Lili felt a passionate sense of urgency to re-ignite the feminist agenda. Convinced of the huge power media had to make social change, she decided to dedicate her life to finding a way to accelerate the education and economic empowerment of women and girls around the world. She felt that educated and empowered women were the key to saving the future pillars of democracy and the rise and threat of fascism.
Funding and sources of capital were vastly inadequate for women. She decided to do something about it. Unless women were empowered economically, they could not take their rightful place at the table.
International Women's Day was not well known in North America at the time. She decided to put it on the map. The TV broadcast of Women of Wisdom and Power said, “women are gathering in every city worldwide on International Women’s Day, their voices growing stronger every year.” (She had bought footage of the women marching worldwide for the broadcast). If it wasn’t quite true, she felt it would become so the more women heard it. The message was flowing across the airwaves prime time in 28 of the top 30 markets across the U.S.
She decided to spread this message because of a sense of outrage at the injustice of it all. The World March of Women marched in over 150 countries around the world on March 8, 2000, and it barely made the news. When they decided to do it again in 2005 Lili invested a great deal of time and effort to get up and down planes to meet with the TV Networks, to make sure it was covered. She shared it with Barbara Walters personally, her biggest idol. She said it wasn’t “her thing”. Lili answered “maybe it ought to be your thing.” If looks could kill. Lili was shocked that something so significant for women globally would not make the news at all. It was as if it never happened. Can you imagine that?
The Secret of Lili Fournier’s Success. When asked, she said it was her “incredible perseverance, her willingness to take risks and her courage to keep trying over and over again”. She knows what it takes. Outrageous courage and determination have helped her rise to the top of her field in several careers including Television, Film, Real Estate, as a Lifestyle columnist as well as in her retail enterprises which included Toronto’s finest gourmet shop modeled after Dean & DeLuca in N.Y.
After one success after another with her Quest Documentary Specials it was still extremely challenging for her to get access to capital for her next show. She often had to risk it all herself, over and over again, while watching most of the millions she generated go largely to the distributors.
She kept asking why was investment capital for women such a huge issue? Why? When the world knows women are the most potent power for global economic growth and that is not some idle boast from the Economist. She decided that Women’s Day Live would harness the power of media, celebrity and technology to spark a global movement for unprecedented investment in Girl’s Education and Women’s Economic Empowerment. WDL would launch a bold Women’s Pledge Fund, to bring urgently needed funding for women entrepreneurs around the world.
Why are women & girls the poorest people on the planet? We have to change this story we’ve all bought into as a society. Eyes wide shut no more. As Gandhi said, “poverty is the worst kind of violence”. You can tell a great deal about a civilization by where it puts its money. Are we worth it yet?
We need the powerful economic players at the table to make this kind of systemic change. This is that moonshot moment for humanity. If not now, when?
At the beginning of this incredible journey, Lili shared the Women’s Day Live mission with President Clinton who invited her to make it a Clinton Global Initiative commitment. (CGI) She was able to secure a promise of funding right out of the gate at the first CGI she attended in N.Y. but could not take it given some of the talent objected to the donor’s wealth coming from what they called ‘blood diamonds’. That was in 2006. Over the years that followed, she came close several times to achieving the Women’s Day Live dream that would help accelerate investment in the future of the world’s women and girls.
In July 2010, the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. What a joy and call for celebration. At the historic launch of UN Women, she met with the President of the UN assembly who supported her vision for Women’s Day Live and agreed to invite world leaders to celebrate their nation’s women on International Women’s Day to tie in with the Women’s Day Live global broadcast. Michelle Bachelet, the founding Executive Director agreed that WDL was a bold idea and suggested her team collaborate.
As UN Women’s inaugural team requested, Lili convened a meeting of all her strategic partners, which included most of the leaders of the World’s leading women’s organizations, from the Global Fund for Women, the Women’s Funding Network, to the the General Secretary of the World YWCA, et al. Her team including Ogilvy made a stellar presentation in a majestic Capital One Boardroom on Madison Avenue.
Jason Mogus, the only man in the Boardroom, who was a brilliant global digital strategist, (who had just amalgamated a historic ten million sign up to support the UN’S Copenhagen Climate Change Summit) stood up and said “You are either getting on a bus together and heading to the same destination or you’re not. The biggest risk you may all be taking is not taking one.”
Lili’s been all in since 2010. The Chairman of AOL, who funded Live AID said WDL was brilliant idea and agreed to fund it. Then AOL went away. Her team met with all the heads of global beauty brands for P&G, who loved the exciting idea of owning International Women’s Day, resoundingly. Then P&G divested some key beauty brands to Coty.
Lili presented the mission to the Women’s Council at the White House thanks to Valerie Jarrett. She and her team also presented WDL to the heads of the U.S. State Department, who were convened at the invitation of Gloria Cabe, the former chief of Staff for President Clinton when he was Governor.
Most of the department heads at the State department thought that harnessing the power of music, global media, and celebrity to foster ‘soft power global diplomacy’ was an exciting idea that could help implement a bold strategy to advance women’s global economic empowerment. They proposed a partnership with WDL. Gloria Cabe said she could never understand why it was then declined given the collective enthusiasm. So, Lili kept dusting herself off and getting back up on her proverbial horse.
As an inveterate adventurer Lili has travelled to over 80 countries and circled the globe a few times in her Quest to build alliances and raise funds to realize the Women's Day Live mission. She flew to India to meet with Indu Jain, the Chairman of the Times Group who agreed to be a media and production partner for Women's Day Live India! Tata Trusts said they would disburse funds raised back then.
This would set the stage to be able to produce a spectacular Hollywood and Bollywood Telethon to inspire the world to give boldly and generously.
She flew to Rio at the invitation of her Mentor’s Hanne and Maurice Strong when he was honored at the UN’s Rio Earth + 20 Summit in 2012. He was one of the world’s greats, who was known as the father of the modern environmental movement. The Mayor of Rio agreed to give Lili Copacabana Beach for 2 million celebrants. TV Globo agreed to produce 3 stages across the country and 2 in Rio. Viva Rio was going to be the beneficiary.
Many years earlier, Lili first called Hanne and Maurice Strong crying that she couldn’t sleep or eat for months as the women were being stoned in Afghanistan and the world was not speaking up. It was happening on her watch, and she wasn’t doing anything about it. They encouraged her to go for her big dream to produce Women's Day Live. Maurice Strong was no stranger to implementing big bold ideas, as he convened 100 world leaders for the Rio Earth Summit twenty years earlier.
The world abandoned the women in Afghanistan then and they are doing it again now. She felt the deafening sound of the world’s silence. It was just like when she was a child, asking why she had no family. And how could the world stand by and let the Holocaust happen and not speak out.
“My biggest regret is the time I didn’t spend with my Mother. I’ll never get a chance to make it up to her. She came out of Auschwitz alone in the world as a young girl of 17. She was an immigrant several times and raised two daughters as a single Mom. She had incredible courage, strength and a zest for life like few others. A woman of real valor. You could not set your bar of integrity higher than hers. I learned to sacrifice ‘things’ from her, for what’s truly important in life.
Everything I’ve done is in tribute to the life and survival of this great woman, and in honor of the survival of my ancestors and the eternal vow I made to them “Never Again.” I meant it.
When she filmed the legendary Financier, Sir John Templeton for her Quest shows, (He had sent me a couple of notes over the years to say how much my Quest was appreciated) he turned to her husband and said “Lili’s a missionary! Watch her.” I guess I am. LOL! I often said I was so committed that I ought to be committed. Living on the edge is not a comfortable way to live, but it’s the only way I know how.“
“Just a few highlights of my tumultuous life. Then there was the partnership with Mikhail Gorbachev, the former President of the Soviet Union whom I met at the State of the World Forum in N.Y. She invited him and his German partners to go global with their Women of the World Awards Show which was only known in Europe. At her invitation they brought the Women of the World Awards to New York and held a Star-studded Gala with UN Women. A story for another day."
Fast forward to 2018. Lili met with Katie Telford, the Chief of Staff for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who supported her bold vision for women’s global economic empowerment. Prime Minister Trudeau had just made a historic investment in women when he hosted the G7 Summit in 2018 inviting the other leaders to also put women at the heart of International Development AID. Billions of dollars were pledged.
“We had the Air Canada Center, Live Nation to produce and UN Women as a strategic partner to help with the funding. With potential satellite events in India and Brazil. The plan was to harness the power of celebrity and media to mobilize a global campaign to call on world leaders to put women at the heart of International Development Aid. This meant billions in the hands of women’s grassroots funds where it was proven to have the greatest impact. Melinda Gates was hosting the Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative for Prime Minister Trudeau at the G7 Summit. Trump derailed the Summit. The funding did not come through.”
In 2019 Lili had a strong premonition that the Global Humanitarian Crisis she had been expecting was imminent and would hit by March. She worked 24/7 and did everything in her power to make WDL happen for International Women’s Day in 2020. WDL would have been the last live concert before the Covid shutdown. She was working with the incomparable Riley O’Connor, the chairman of Live Nation Canada to pull this off as well as produce the Centennial Concert she had proposed for August 26, 2020, for Women’s Equality Day.
It was critical to produce the Women's Day Live Centennial Celebration. Given it was a 100 year Commemoration of women winning the vote, it offered a powerful platform to ignite the women’s vote. She collaborated with the Women's Suffrage Centennial Commission and Centennial State commissions, to co-ordinate all the state celebrations to happen on one day, on Equality Day, given they all had different days planned for the year long celebration. Five major cities across the U.S. were to have satellite Concert events.
In December it looked like support did not coalesce. She got gravely ill as she anticipated the Global Humanitarian crisis, she knew was imminent. She recovered her health as the world shut down for COVID. She renewed her passionate commitment to help save the future for women and girls and looked to see how she could land on her feet and begin again. Every disappointment just led her to try harder and to refine the plan of action to be ready when the other shoe really dropped. Live Aid happened in 3 weeks in 1985 because of a bunch of committed men. She was looking for a “Bob Geldoff” to champion the world’s women and girls. Who will help galvanize the world at this moment of need?
In 2022 she worked to launch both World Girls Day and Women's Day Live given the severity of the Humanitarian Crisis. She had to sell her last asset in 2022, her home of 43 years, in order to keep going on her mission. It was hard. She did say she would do whatever it takes no matter what the personal sacrifice to help save the future of democracy. The world was largely still sleepwalking.
In the summer of 2023, she worked full out trying to mobilize the international community to stand up for the world’s girls who were experiencing unbelievable hardships. She thought the huge success of Barbie worldwide would inspire them to lend their support and help the world’s girls in these desperate times.
She then saw a chance for the Music Industry to produce a Telethon to come to the aid of the world’s children on World Children’s Day, which was November 20th, the day after the Billboard Music Awards on Nov 19th. She had hoped a Telethon or Concert could be realized for Thanksgiving. It was an unreasonable call, given not enough lead time. They must think she is a crazy woman, she thought to herself. She absolutely is if you think of passionately committed people who will go to the end of the world for a cause they care deeply for. She often said she’s so committed she should be committed.
She felt an enormous sense of urgency to make an impact as she once again felt a huge catastrophe was about to befall the world before the end of October. An overwhelming hyper vigilance takes over which makes her feel these existential threats to our survival viscerally. This was the most intense premonition since 9/11. The ultimate hit she expected all her life came on October 7th. Such barbarity, cruelty and inhumanity. Global terrorism and hate unleashed. The Devil that never dies. This was the most heartbreaking moment of her life.
We invite the World’s Talent, powerful Music Players, Corporate Leaders, Technology, Media and Entertainment companies and NGOs to help lead a united global effort to respond to this catastrophic Global Hunger Crisis. We cannot do this without you.
The Heart in Action Global Humanitarian Campaign - for the Biggest Give Back Movement will make philanthropic history. The future is in our hands. I have answered the call. Won’t you join us?
Live Aid proved the power of music to bring people together for a common cause. Now is the time for all people of good will and conscience to step up with everything they’ve got. We need foundational funding to engage all the team to have all systems go now. The legendary Louis J. Horvitz is available to direct (Live Aid, Academy Awards, Grammy’s, The Golden Globes).
Let’s turn action into impact.
The Cause of Women, Girls and Children is the Moral Imperative of the 21st Century.
I BELIEVE IN WOMEN'S DAY LIVE
“The future of global women’s rights is at stake. This moment calls for energizing new efforts to achieve lasting gains. I do not know any other person in the world with the kind of determination and commitment you have. I respect you for your unfailing hope in Women’s Day Live and I believe it will happen one day”.
Musimbi KANYORO - Former CEO, Global Fund for Women, Former Co-Chair of Women’s Day Live
"Lili Fournier's passionate and courageous commitment to the cause of women's global empowerment despite the challenges over the years with launching such a bold and ambitious vision like WOMEN'S DAY LIVE is simply unbelievable and a real inspiration. She just simply will not give up until it happens".
Canada’s investment in women is a Game-Changer!
“Canada’s new Feminist International Assistance Policy, placing women and girls at the heart of the International Development agenda is historic. It is a game-changer. Women's Day Live offers a unique opportunity to take the lead on a bold initiative that can be very effective in mobilizing resources and impacting national and global policy.”
Right Honorable Kim CAMPBELL - Former Prime Minister of Canada, Women's Day Live Honorary Co-Chair
REAL CHANGE WILL HAPPEN WHEN WE ARE UNITED
“I invite cities and countries around the world to join Women’s Day Live next year for an epic International Women’s Day Celebration.
When we are united in the fight for progress, and women come together as a critical mass at the table—that’s when the real change will happen”.
Kathleen WYNNE - Former Premiere of Ontario
P.S.: Premiere Wynne was a great supporter of Women’s Day Live, recording a video inviting world leaders to join the celebration and the mission.
Together we have Enormous Collective Power to Ignite Systemic Change
"We must stand up for the rights of the World’s Women and Girls at this critical tipping point in history. We have to choose courage over comfort and be willing to do what it takes. Women are the great defenders of democracy. The stakes could not be higher". - Lili Fournier
The very future of humanity depends on what we do now.