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Meet 5 (ok, more than 5) women who are thriving in the fight

During times of great chaos, innovation is key.

If anyone would have asked you last October how you would be spending your 2020, neither you nor I would have been able to imagine how much our lives would have changed.

Yet, I am encouraged by all of the women of color who are finding ways to thrive in the fight, using different tools, but fighting just the same for racial, economic, political and social change.

Over the past weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to many incredible leaders who are being transformed by the chaos around them.

I thought I’d introduce you to five of them:

Arielle Estoria

Writer, Creator, and Poet Arielle Estoria and I had the opportunity to make this great YouTube video to remind young faith leaders to make a plan to vote. Arielle uses her gifts as an artist, healer and poet to make meaning of this moment for emerging leaders. 

Dr. Leandris Liburd

Four years ago Dr. Leandris Liburd and I met at a Women and Power conference at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. Last week I caught up with her. Dr. Liburd has the incredibly important job at the Centers for Disease Control of making sure people both inside and out of the Atlanta-based national public health agency understands how COVID-19 is hitting communities of color much more harshly. I recently read that almost half of the U.S. COVID deaths were people of Black, Indigenous, Latino and Pacific Islander descent. APM research lab states it more plainly:  If they had died of COVID-19 at the same actual rate as White Americans, about 21,800 Black, 11,400 Latino, 750 Indigenous and 65 Pacific Islander Americans would still be alive.  I’m so glad Dr. Liburd is leading this important work at this very important time in our world’s history. 

Johana Bencomo

Johana Bencomo works full time as the Director of a nonprofit organization, and in her personal time serves as City Councillor in the border city of Las Cruces, New Mexico. I recently caught a few minutes with her to record this video. I felt so inspired by Johana’s ability to describe life within 100 miles of U.S. border.   She is tirelessly confronting some of today’s most pressing challenges and reflects on how COVID has changed her.   

Felicia Griffin

This past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working closely with Felicia Griffin. You know how sometimes you meet someone and become instant friends?  That’s how it’s been with me and Felicia. This month, together, Felicia and I led a scenario planning workshop with Wendy Chun-Hoon, Jennifer Morales and Sade Moonsammy from Family Values @ Work. The purpose was to help us as women movement leaders consider the various scenarios we may be confronting as human beings as the election comes and goes. It was a great session, with great people and perfect music!!

Gawaher Atif

The highlight of this past week was reconnecting with my cohort of women leaders, including Dr. Liburd, who met in 2016 at the Kennedy School Women and Power training. On Sunday morning, I got up early to hear updates from my sisters from England, Cameroon, Malawi, Canada, the United States, and Australia.   I could talk about these women all day long. They are confronting climate change, sex trafficking, poverty, foster-care, and issues of sexual harassment on the daily.  One of the co-conveners of the group is Gawaher Atif. She was on my ‘board of directors’ when we were together in 2016. She had such amazing wisdom to share. Gawa has spent most of her career building the United Nations World Food Programme. The Programme just won the Nobel Peace Prize!  Congratulations to you Gawa for living  into your full self and leading  your own terms. 

I am so grateful to know that these and so many women in communities around the world are standing leading into their vision, living into their fullest selves and loving past the negatives that hold them back.