New York, NY – As the nation kicks off Women’s History Month, leading advocacy nonprofit FPWA hosted Rising Together: Local Women Leading Change, a breakfast to celebrate the impactful work of local women who have been hailed as change agents. At the event, held March 2 at the Park Hyatt in Manhattan, prominent New York women discussed how this moment of increased focus on equity, as demonstrated by the Women’s March and #MeToo, can become a lasting movement for change.
Honorees included United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand; Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Bob Bland and Linda Sarsour, national co-chairs of the Women’s March; Joanne N. Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity; and Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen, Founders of Higher Heights for America.
Prior to and after Trump's inauguration, women organized and marched in the streets demanding to be heard. These women and millions of others responded to calls for more aggressive engagement around gender equity, sexual harassment, and countless proposed restrictions regarding women's rights.
FPWA, an advocacy organization that fights for low-income communities, provided a venue for these women to share ideas for change and action. At the breakfast, more than 100 influential New York City women discussed voter participation, increasing awareness of women’s issues in government, and boosting engagement in future elections.
“We were truly inspired by the women who gathered for the Rising Together event—the very changemakers seizing moments and leading movements for more inclusive communities across our nation,” says FPWA’s CEO and Executive Director, Jennifer Jones Austin. “One thing that’s resoundingly clear is that women are leading. Women are stepping up and becoming change agents. We’ve been on the front-lines forever, but we’re now filling leadership roles like never before—and this bodes well for our communities. I’m absolutely inspired.”
The breakfast featured a special message from honoree United States Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "I'm very proud to stand with FPWA which has been built on the goals of reducing poverty, advancing opportunity, and sharing in prosperity – essentially, love others as yourself. This core value informs all that we do.,” said Gillibrand. “More women than ever before are raising their voices, speaking out, and demanding to be heard – and it is changing our country for the better. The next chapter of the women’s movement is being written – and it’s up to each of us to keep raising our voices and fighting for what we believe in."
Cheryl Wills, anchor of NY1 Live at Ten and host of “In Focus with Cheryl Wills,” served as mistress of ceremonies and co-hosted two panel discussions that focused on the importance of seizing this important moment in history and it into a major movement.
“We’ve built an intersectional platform that no one has ever seen,” said Mallory. “The very foundation on which the Women’s March particularly stands on is the fact that some of us put everything on the line for it to be as it is.”
“The truth is we are uncomfortable: not everyone likes us speaking truth to power,” said Sarsour. “But challenging people’s internal biases is part of who we are — it’s part of what we have to do to move our cause forward.”
The second panel, which was co-hosted by New York Civil Liberties Union leader Donna Lieberman, centered around how women are sparking movements and what is necessary to keep the momentum. Smith and Carr discussed the visions for their organizations and the importance of elevating the voices of women and girls of color.
“Thank you for recognizing Girls for Gender Equity as a local changemaker”, stated Smith. “At GGE, we are committed to the physical, psychological, social, and economic development of girls and women, knowing that when we support trans girls and women of color, alongside gender non-conforming (GNC) and non-binary young people, we ultimately support the whole community. We are thrilled to accept this award and look forward to leading social justice strategies that foster the growth and fulfillment of all its members.”
“We are honored to receive this award from FPWA on behalf of our work with Higher Heights”, stated Carr. “It is critical that we continue to create and expand opportunities for women and communities of color to take on leadership roles in civic engagement and advance progressive public policies. Gatherings like the FPWA women’s breakfast provides us with an opportunity to not only reflect on all that we’ve accomplished, but to collaborate and strategize on how we can continue to work together to build sustainable communities across the country and the nation.”
“We are thrilled to support FPWA in their efforts to uplift the critical leadership of women working to improve the lives of women and girls in New York City and communities across the nation,” said Ana Oliveira, President and CEO of The New York Women’s Foundation, which sponsored the event. “Women’s leadership has been central to progress in many areas and it is crucial to give proper recognition to those who continue to carry this work forward. Congratulations and thank you to the honorees, Senator Gillibrand, the National Co-Chairs of the Women’s March, Joanne N. Smith, Glynda C. Carr, and Kimberly Peeler-Allen who exemplify transformational leadership.”