Last week, the White House Champions of Change – Young Women Empowering Their Communities. The program honored 11 young women who are empowering their communities every day through leadership, advocacy, and just all out #girlpower! It was such an honor to hear the amazing stories of strength and perseverance that these young women have.
The YWCA’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women seemed to echo throughout the event. Each honoree had passion, a strong voice, and resilience to withstand adversity in order to step forth and be a leader in their community.
From left: YWCA Queens HSE Students Umme Sheuli, Moises Churio, Adrian Lezcano, Director of Center for Education & Career Services Stacy Mckelvey, Communications & Outreach Associate Jane Lee, and HSE Student Erick Menendez at the Apollo Theatre in New York
by Heather Nannery Communications Manager, YWCA New York City
Who is the 21st Century Girl? How can we support her aspirations? What happens when 200 girls and women unite to find out?
The YWCA of the City of New York (YW) took on these questions and more on June 2 at the First Annual Potential to Power Girls Symposium. The YW convened over 200 girls and 50 influential women to engage in important discussions about racial and gender equity in New York City.
by Amberlie Phillips Chief Development Officer, YWCA Utah
The YWCA USA conference a few weeks ago was full of inspiring speakers, great networking, and wonderful educational opportunities. I learned so much during each portion of the conference – from watching my CEO and a YWCA USA Board Member gracefully navigate an advocacy day meeting with an unsympathetic legislator, to getting insights into how different generations approach their philanthropy. It was three days of reinvigorating immersion into the power of persimmon!
Racism impacts the lives of women creating social division and power structure, which limits opportunities for women in all areas of their lives. Women fight for equal education, health, protection against victimization, (both at home and in society) and take a stand against the social structures that sustain discrimination and exploitation. As the month of April combines two significant recognition days, April 20th as Equal Pay Day and today’s, Stand Against Racism, it’s of great interest that women continue to fight 51 years after the Equal Pay Act when women average 77 cents earned for each male dollar. African American women are less at 69 cents and that number continues to drop even more to 57 cents for Hispanic women.
This is the fourth year the YWCA of Rochester & Monroe County has participated in the Stand Against Racism and we’ve got some pretty big plans this year. As you know, the Stand is an annual community-wide event to build awareness about racism. We reach out to businesses, higher education, houses of worship and government agencies to create greater awareness and to encourage conversations about race.
In honor of Black History Month, I was pleased to have the opportunity to interview a true YWCA leader: Mary Douglas, a 40-year YWCA veteran and advocate. She was present during one of the YWCA’s most historic moments; she shares her reflections below.
1) Tell me: how did you get involved in the YWCA? What positions have you held?
It was a bit of a scandal, to say the least. When Helen Claytor was elected as the YWCA West Central Michigan’s (then the Grand Rapids YWCA) first African American board president in 1949, three board members resigned in protest. Thankfully, the remaining members reflected the YW’s forward thinking on civil rights. Even then, Helen was more than qualified to lead the association on a mission to empower women of all races.
Our new YWCA USA CEO, Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D., visited the YWCA of Minneapolis during a recent visit to Minnesota. She shared her vision to find new ways to connect the YWCAs from across the country, and to infuse new energy into the national YWCA movement. I am so inspired by her vision and have been waiting for an excuse to connect with my YWCA colleagues around the country in meaningful ways.
Kasar Abdulla, Board Member at the YWCA of Nashville for three years, has been making a difference in her community for nearly two decades. Through her work with Welcoming America, Kasar helps immigrants and the new communities they are joining to find cross-cultural understanding and an appreciation for their new neighbors. In September, Kasar was honored by the White House as a Champion of Change, and we sat down with her for an interview about her work and her life in the United States.