2014 YWCA USA Annual Conference & Women of Distinction Awards Gala

This year, over 300 YWCA leaders convened in Washington, D.C. for our 2014 Annual Conference andWomen of Distinction Awards Gala. 

We welcomed our local associations to the opening day of our conference, June 11, for a screening of Miss Representation, an award-winning documentary exposing the ways women are misrepresented through media.

The next day, associations formed into their State Delegations for Capitol Hill Day, bringing their persimmon scarves to 265 meetings on the Hill, 116 of which were with members of Congress. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) met with us to discuss the need for policymakers to prioritize an economic agenda for women and families, reminding us that “when women succeed, America succeeds.” 

On June 13, attendees went to several workshops featuring experts in fields like domestic violence, young women’s leadership, gender identity, and more. View the recorded UStream from our Young Women’s Leadership Panel here. Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden joined us for a lunchtime break to deliver a powerful keynote message about the value of raising the minimum wage to reduce poverty and increase employment.

On Friday, June 13 YWCA USA held our annual Women of Distinction Awards Gala. This event honors nationally-recognized women who have demonstrated excellence, leadership and integrity, and who serve as role models for women and girls around the world.

We were honored to have Robin Givens, television, film and stage actress and advocate, serve as this year’s host. She has served as a spokesperson for the National Domestic Violence Hotline and was awarded the Vital Link Award by that organization for her over 20 years of work on behalf of women, children and families facing the challenges of domestic violence. She is also Co-Chair of Women Who Care.

We are proud to share our 2014 Women of Distinction honorees:

Advocacy and Civic Engagement: Gaby Pacheco
Gaby Pacheco
, Co-Director of the Bridge Project, came to the United States at the age 8 from Guayaquil, Ecuador. Since 2004, she has gained national recognition for her advocacy for the DREAM Act and immigration reform. In 2012, she spearheaded the campaign that led to President Obama announcing the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Corporate Social Responsibility: Deloitte LLP, Accepted by Deborah L. DeHaas
The YWCA USA is proud to honor Deloitte LLP for their strong commitment to create and cultivate a diverse workforce, their efforts to provide career development and leadership opportunities for women, and for their invaluable partnerships with YWCAs around the country. Deloitte, through its philanthropy, community engagement, and positive policies, has made a tremendous impact in the lives of women and their families across the nation.

Accepting on behalf of Deloitte is Deborah L. DeHaas, Vice Chairman and Chief Inclusion Officer for Deloitte LLP.
Military and Veterans Affairs: Jaspen Boothe
Jaspen Boothe is Founder and President of Final Salute Inc. As a member of the Army Reserves in New Orleans, Jaspen was mobilized to go to Iraq in 2005. That year, her life was torn apart by Hurricane Katrina and a cancer diagnosis that left her facing discharge from the military. Her struggle to find assistance, as a Veteran and single mother of two, inspired her to found Final Salute Inc. in 2010 so that other woman Veterans could find resources in times of need. 
Women’s Empowerment: Sister Simone Campbell
Sister Simone Campbell is the Executive Director of NETWORK, and a religious leader, attorney and poet with extensive experience in public policy and advocacy for systemic change. She is the author of the famous “nun’s letter,” which was critically important to passage of the Affordable Care Act, and she was instrumental in organizing the 2012 “Nuns on the Bus” tour. She is also the author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community.

In addition, three YWCA associations were honored with Association Excellence Awards for their superior work in the areas of women’s empowerment, racial justice and advocacy and their commitment to advancing the YWCA’s mission:

We congratulate all of the finalist and winning Associations for their outstanding commitment to advancing the YWCA mission!


Press about the 2014 Women of Distinction Awards Gala

Finally, the YWCA’s highest honor, the Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award, was presented to award-winning broadcast journalist, executive producer, advocate and philanthropist Soledad O’Brien for their dedication to the field of racial justice in the United States. The honoree demonstrates qualities that reflect Dr. Height’s contributions as a civil rights pioneer and women’s rights activist. This includes service in a leadership role, commitment to racial justice, and a high standard of courage, integrity and steadfastness in support of the YWCA mission to eliminate racism and empower women.

The Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award is named for Dorothy Height, a leading civil rights and women’s rights pioneer and activist who was dedicated to improving the circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women. As President of the National Council of Negro Women and as the first National Director of the YWCA USA’s Center for Racial Justice, she remains a hero of the Civil Rights Movement. She died on April 20, 2010 in Washington, D.C.

O’Brien is a dedicated philanthropist and advocate in the fields of racial justice. Over the past decade, she was at the forefront of the biggest news stories, and she was the originator of the critically acclaimed documentary series on race, Black in America and Latino in America. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, O’Brien co-founded with her husband Brad Raymond “The Soledad O'Brien and Brad Raymond Starfish Foundation,” which awards scholarships to 25 disadvantaged young women to attend college.

From left: Chair of the YWCA USA Board, Paula Penebaker; Soledad O'Brien;
CEO of the YWCA USA, Dara Richardson-Heron, M.D.
Photo by Moshe Zusman.

Press about the 2014 Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award:

Thank You to our 2014 YWCA USA Annual Conference and Women of Distinction Awards Gala Sponsors!

Interested in sponsoring the 2015 Women of Distinction Awards Gala?
Contact James Howell, Director of Development at the YWCA USA for more information.