For Immediate Release:
Senior Director, Marketing and Communications
Honorees include Taraji P. Henson, Latosha Brown, Mari Copeny, Lisa Mensah, Dr. Leana Wen with opening remarks from Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
YWCA USA will celebrate, recognize, and honor women, girls, and organizations for their work and impact in racial justice, advocacy and civic engagement, and women’s empowerment virtually at the Women of Distinction Awards Gala on June 24, at 7 pm ET as part of their racial justice summit, In Solidarity We Build.
The YWCA USA established the Women of Distinction Awards Gala to celebrate, recognize, and honor women, girls, and organizations who embody the YWCA mission to empower women and eliminate racism. The accomplishments of our extraordinary honorees reflect those aspirational yet attainable goals. We are deeply grateful for their service and look forward to celebrating them in front of our community.
This year’s gala is co-hosted by Elisha Rhodes, Interim CEO and COO, YWCA USA; activist, educator, and writer, Brittany Packnett Cunningham; and founder and CEO of HUED, Kimberly Wilson.
Proceeds from the Women of Distinction Awards Gala support funding for over 200 YWCA local associations to provide programs and other resources that touch the lives of women, girls, and people of color in over 1,200 communities across the country.
The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards were established to celebrate, recognize, and honor women, girls, and organizations who embody the YWCA mission to empower women and eliminate racism and go above and beyond to make our communities a place where women, girls, and people of color can thrive.
Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton will virtually provide opening remarks during the 2021 Women of Distinction on the importance of breaking down the barriers that hold Americans back and building ladders of opportunity for all people.
This year’s 2021 Women of Distinction Award recipients include:
- Taraji P. Henson,Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award recipient
- LaTosha Brown, Civic Engagement Award recipient
- Mari Copeny, Youth Social Activism Award recipient
- Lisa Mensah, Financial Empowerment Award recipient
- Leana Wen, Excellence in Public Health Award recipient
YWCA USA will also recognize two YWCA local associations who, through idealism, perseverance, and extraordinary faith in a better world, rise to the top of our community as leaders. These associations have provided an authentic, demonstrable impact on women and girls in the communities they serve. This year’s two YWCA local association honorees showed exemplary and innovative racial justice work during our nation’s moment of racial reckoning and beyond.
Thursday, June 24, from 7:00 p.m. ET
All members of the media are invited to attend by registering here. Media interested in interviews should contact Yolanda Raine, Senior Director, Marketing and Communications at email@example.com or 202-524-5331.
The 2021 YWCA USA Women of Distinction Honorees are:
Taraji P. Henson, Dorothy I. Height Racial Justice Award
Named in honor of YWCA leader and civil rights leader Dorothy I. Height, the eponymous Racial Justice Award is presented to an individual whose efforts and contributions have been significant in the field of racial justice. This year, we are thrilled to recognize actor Taraji P. Henson for embodying the ethos and ideals of our beloved Dorothy I. Height through the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation, which is working tirelessly to eradicate stigmas and generate awareness around the mental health issues that plague the African American community and to provide support for African American communities who need it the most.
LaTosha Brown, Civic Engagement Award
The Civic Engagement Award is presented to an individual or organization who has made significant strides, either personally or through organized efforts, to build equity in her community in a way that aligns with the YWCA mission to eliminate racism and empower women. LaTosha Brown is the co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund and the Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute. Her inexhaustible strength as a leader, her valiant philanthropic efforts, and her inspiring commitments to increase and ensure voter access and power in marginalized communities inspire us all.
Mari Copeny, Youth Social Activism Award
The Youth Social Activism Award is presented to a young individual who has shown extraordinary ambition and drive in creating a better, more equitable world not only for her generation but for the coming generations as well. Mari Copeny is a 13-year-old activist, philanthropist, and, in her words, a “future president.” When the Flint Water Crisis began, Ms. Copeny used her voice to speak up for her hometown and to fight for her fellow kids. Since then, she expanded her efforts by helping communities across the country fight for clean water.
Lisa Mensah, Financial Empowerment Award
The Financial Empowerment Award recognizes an individual for her extraordinary efforts to better the economic prospects of those in great need. Lisa Mensah is the President and CEO of Opportunity Finance Network and heads one of the nation’s leading networks of Community Development Financial Institutions. Ms. Mensah is considered an expert on how those in low-wealth communities can access capital. She can often be seen at Congress, where she champions equitable economic policies, standing up for those in need.
Dr. Leana Wen, Excellence in Public Health Award
The Excellence in Public Health Award is presented to an individual who has made great strides in making health care and health care information accessible. YWCA is deeply committed to addressing racism as a public health crisis, a commitment also echoed by the work of this year’s honoree, Dr. Leana Wen. Dr. Wen is an emergency physician, professor of public health at George Washington University, and nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her writing — for the Washington Post and in her patient advocacy book, When Doctors Don’t Listen: How to Avoid Misdiagnoses and Unnecessary Tests — positions her as a leading advocate for patients’ rights and the free and fair distribution of knowledge.
About YWCA US
YWCA is dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. We are one of the oldest and largest women’s organizations in the nation, serving over 2 million women, girls, and their families.
YWCA has been at the forefront of the most pressing social movements for 160 years — from voting rights to civil rights, from affordable housing to pay equity, from violence prevention to health care reform. Today, we combine programming and advocacy to generate institutional change in three key areas: racial justice and civil rights, empowerment and economic advancement of women and girls, and health and safety of women and girls. Learn more at www.ywca.org.