The YWCA’s announcement of the 2017 class of Women of Achievement Honorees comes at a critical and opportune time for our community.

But first, congratulations to the 2017 Honorees. They have each accomplished much in their respective professions and have made significant contributions to improving the lives of others. Each lives the values of “we are our sisters and brothers keepers”.

The YWCA announcement comes at a time when we are still processing the results of the presidential election. What does the election mean for women and women's rights? What will happen to the safety net of government programs and services that provides crucial support to so many people of all ages in our country? How do we protect those who are marginalized and help those who have no pathway to achieving the American dream of equality and prosperity?

YWCA Women of Achievement Class of 2016

YWCA Women of Achievement Class of 2016

It has been one year since the announcement that I was a member of the 2016 Women of Achievement class. A lot has changed since then! Looking back, I could not have guessed the introspection and analysis that would occur as I began the journey towards the April luncheon celebration. Meeting many new creative, accomplished and passionate people has allowed me to think more broadly about issues and our community. The process of preparing for the event and writing my speech enabled me to examine what is truly important to me and what motivates me. And what does motivate me are the issues of equality, social justice, and addressing inequities in our society.

We see these inequities every day by looking at who holds power. Many people of all races and genders are left behind in achieving the American dream with women and people of color being disproportionately impacted.  We see this in the difficult issues of poverty, failing schools, and neighborhoods with crime, few economic opportunities, insufficient transportation choices, and jobs that do not pay a living wage.

Which leads back to the election. There are many things we each can do. We can get involved and advocate for those without a voice as well as for ourselves. Participate and attend programs to learn more. Speak up when we see inappropriate and hurtful behavior. Talk with others who don't share our views, our experiences, our history. Watch the new Amazon show Good Girls Revolt. Change occurs one person at a time. Yes it is exhausting, but we must do this for the future of our children, the country and ourselves.

Follow the lead of the YWCA, Elfi DiBella, and the 2017 Honorees. They are great role models for fairness and change.