Evanston/North Shore

YWomen Leadership Awards

Each year, the YWomen Leadership Awards support, promote and celebrate women’s leadership and the impact women have in our community. We are currently in the planning stages for our 2017 YWomen event, which will be held on Friday, November 10, at Venue One in Deerfield. Please save the date! (Subscribe to our monthly e-newsletter to receive details when they become available.)

Our 2016 YWomen Award winners, honored before 360 people at the 9th annual Awards dinner on October 13, 2016, were:

  • Julie Smolyansky: President & CEO of Lifeway Foods, Julie has made it her mission to use her voice to spotlight and raise awareness about issues affecting women and girls, including violence against women, human rights, nutrition, and maternal health.

  •  Evonda Thomas-Smith: Director of the Evanston Department of Health and Human Services, Evonda is a champion for public health and is dedicated to developing programs that will reduce health disparities, targeting diverse age, language, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, and faith communities
  • Amita Lonial, Young Woman of Promise: Learning Experience Manager at The Skokie Public Library, Amita is focused on the intersection of public libraries and social justice, and passionate about innovating how public libraries can deliver programs and services to create resilient and equitable communities.

View photos from the evening here.

The inspiring event includes a film about the influences in each of these women's lives that led them to work towards women's empowerment, racial justice, and social change. View this year's remarkable film here: 


YWomen Nomination and Awards Criteria

YWCA Evanston/North Shore presents four YWomen achievement awards each year. Two of these awards are granted to women who have demonstrated impact in the areas of women's empowerment and racial justice. The Lorraine H. Morton Young Woman of Promise award recognizes a woman under the age of 35 who shows promise in working towards social change. 

All nominees must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Live, work or volunteer in the YWCA Evanston/North Shore service area
  • Demonstrate a commitment to social change within the framework of the YWCA lens (gender, racial and economic justice)Have garnered respect within her community

The final group of nominees must represent the diversity of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore community.

If there is a woman you'd like to nominate, let us know!


Proceeds from the event help support YWCA Evanston/North Shore programs and services that empower women, including domestic violence services, financial literacy, and education in the areas of violence prevention and racial justice.

Past Honorees

Click on the hyperlinks below to view the film from each year:


Learn more, get safe, get involved, empower yourself.