The YWCA USA Women of Distinction Awards honors women from across the United States who have demonstrated excellence, leadership and integrity in their fields and in the community, serving as role models for other successful women.
The YWCA USA is proud to honor three local associations and four women leaders at the Women of Distinction Awards for contributions in four key areas of public life:
Corporate Social Responsibility: Allstate Insurance, accepted by Vicky Dinges
Allstate was honored for their commitment to women’s empowerment, working to prevent domestic violence and provide resources for survivors of violence. Accepting for Allstate is Victoria Dinges, Vice President – Corporate Social Responsibility for the Allstate Insurance Co. Their Purple Purse initiative is designed to raise awareness of the issue of domestic violence and to educate communities about available resources. Through their financial empowerment program, survivors of domestic violence learn skills needed to become financially self-sufficient.
Military/Veterans Affairs: Commander Zoe Dunning, S.C. USNR (Ret.)
Honoree Commander Zoe Dunning, S.C. USNR (Ret.) is a champion for equality in the military. Zoe Dunning graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis in one of the earliest classes that included women. After six years on active duty, she transitioned to the Navy Reserves so she could attend Stanford University Graduate School of Business. While a student there, she publicly came out as a lesbian in protest of the ban on gay service in the U.S. military. One of the first military members to be prosecuted under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law, she successfully won her discharge hearing and continued to serve as the only openly gay member of the military for the next 13 years. She retired as a US Navy Commander after 22 years.
Philanthropy: Patty Stonesifer, formerly of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; now President and CEO, Martha’s Table
Patty Stonesifer was recognized for her decades-long commitment to philanthropic work. The founding CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, she served in that capacity for 10 years. Before joining the Foundation, she spent two decades working in technology, with her final role as Senior Vice President at Microsoft heading the consumer and interactive products division. In April of 2013, she became President and CEO of Martha’s Table, a Washington nonprofit committed to developing sustainable solutions to poverty with programs focused on providing food, nutrition and education. She served on the Board of the YWCA of Seattle-King County-Snohomish County.
Advocacy and Civic Engagement: Sharon Love, Co-Founder of the One Love Foundation
Sharon Love was honored as the Co-Founder of the One Love Foundation. Created in May 2010, One Love honors the memory of her daughter, Yeardley Reynolds Love, a former University of Virginia student-athlete who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Through education and technology, the Foundation’s mission is to end relationship violence. In September 2012, the One Love Foundation launched its “Be 1 for Change” initiative in conjunction with Johns Hopkins School of Nursing and the Bloomberg School of Public Health. The campaign is designed to raise awareness and change attitudes about relationship violence throughout the country.
Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award
This year, we are excited to bring back the Dorothy I. Height Award – the YWCA’s highest honor. The award is named after Dorothy Height, a civil rights and women's rights pioneer and activist who focused on improving circumstances of and opportunities for African-American women. She was a leader in addressing the rights of both women and African-Americans as the president of the National Council of Negro Women and also as leader at the YWCA in Harlem and the YWCA in New York City. She served for 33 years on the national YWCA staff (1944 – 1977) and as the Director for the Center of Racial Justice for 12 years (1965 – 1977), initiating several initiatives that helped to shape the civil rights movement. In the 1990s, she advocated in the war against drugs, illiteracy and unemployment. Height received numerous honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1994) and the Congressional Gold Medal (2004). She died on April 20, 2010, in Washington, D.C.
This award is presented to an individual whose contributions have had a national impact in the field of racial justice in the United States. Honorees reflect qualities that emulate Dr. Height’s contributions: service in a leadership role, commitment to racial justice in their life and work, and a high standard of courage, integrity, and steadfastness in support of the YWCA’s mission to eliminate racism and empower women.
This year, the YWCA USA is honored to present the Dorothy I. Height Award to actress and activist Eva Longoria. A dedicated philanthropist and advocate for racial justice, her charities and her organizations help the Latina community at large. Her foundation works with Latinas to build better futures through education and entrepreneurship and her nonprofit, Eva’s Heroes, is dedicated to enriching the lives of those with developmental challenges.
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