Happy Women’s HERstory Month!
This is the high school graduation photo of my grandmother, Imogene (right) and her older sister, Thera ("Big T"). Despite being two years younger, Imogene graduated high school early to follow Thera to college (Howard University). That first year in college, their father passed away. Thera did graduate and become a nurse. My grandmother never earned her degree but instead met my granddad and got married (she was so young, her mother had to provide consent). The couple moved to the Army base in Fort Huachuca, AZ, where she gave birth to my father four years after this photo was taken.
Both women later dedicated their livelihood to their community and particularly early childhood education; helping a number of mothers and women a long the way. They were both bright, strong, family-oriented and also built incredibly close-knit relationships with other women. They listened, supported and loved. These "sisters" as many other women have shaped my worldview.
In honor of them, I am igniting my passion and power to brighten the future of women in my community. 100% of the money raised will directly benefit women in three key areas of their lives, Safety, Health, and Economic empowerment (SHE).
2020 was enormously difficult for all; but SHE is facing the hardest challenges. SHE is one of three who has been a victim of violence in the home. SHE is one of five who don’t have access to adequate healthcare. SHE is giving up employment to care for the educational needs of school-age children. And, SHE is still earning far less then her male colleagues despite the same education, experience, performance reviews and access.
And SHE is not unknown. SHE is a friend, a neighbor, a mother, a co-worker, a niece, or a sister.
In 2021, I was accepted into the Arizona Foundation for Women SHELeads! Program and every month, 36 of us gather virtually to build a network and develop leadership skills. And most importantly, we are learning to use our voice to advocate for a more equitable future. Will you stand by me?