A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle: YW Boston welcomes five women into the Academy of Women Achievers

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On Tuesday, May 25th, 2021, we were honored to host our 26th annual Academy of Women Achievers Celebration. Thank you to everyone who made this event possible, including our awardees, sponsors, and attendees. Close to 300 guests joined us to celebrate our awardees and to support YW Boston’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. For the second year in a row, YW Boston hosted this event remotely in observance of COVID-19 safety precautions. Even virtually, we were able to co-create a space of connection, vulnerability, and empowerment.

Together, we inducted the five unstoppable women into our 26th anniversary Academy of Women Achievers. Each of them pre-recorded their remarks, which you can view below:

  • Betty Francisco, CEO, Boston Impact Initiative and Co-Founder, Amplify Latinx, View Betty’s Remarks
  • Karen Holmes Ward, CityLine Host and Director of Public Affairs and Community Services, WCVB Channel 5, View Karen’s Remarks
  • Representative Liz Miranda, State Representative for the 5th Suffolk District, View Liz’s Remarks
  • Dr. Altaf Saadi, Sylvia Ferrell-Jones Awardee, Instructor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School, General Academic Neurologist, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Associate Director, MGH Asylum Clinic, View Altaf’s Remarks
  • Deb Taft, Chief Executive Officer, Lindauer, View Deb’s Remarks

Our 26th-anniversary celebration began with remarks from our event Co-Chairs, Beyazmin Jimenez and Annis Gill-Miller, welcoming our audience. Shortly after, YW Boston President & CEO Beth Chandler provided opening remarks. “Last year, at the 25th Academy of Women Achievers Celebration, I spoke about the importance of coming together to honor women. At that point, we were learning about the massive numbers of women in the United States who, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, downshifted their careers or left the workforce altogether—which particularly impacted Black and Latinx women. In fact, this past January, women’s labor participation rate fell to 55.8%, the lowest it has been since 1987. To counteract that, I shared, is my strong belief in creating spaces to champion women leaders. Now, with a majority of Massachusetts residents vaccinated or soon to be, while continuing to create spaces to champion women leaders—we also need to double down on our efforts to create structural change to support all women long after the pandemic.”

Beth recognized each of the five awardees by introducing them to the audience and presenting them with their awards (which were mailed to them following the virtual event). We could not have created such a special event without five-time emcee Latoyia Edwards. Latoyia, an Emmy Award-winning anchor on NBC10 Boston and necn, joined the event to moderate a panel of our five awardees.

Access a recording of the 26th Academy of Women Achievers Celebration below:

Below are highlights from our 26th Academy of Women Achievers Celebration:

“What we can create in our workplaces are spaces to grieve, for support, and to be able to move forward. And to talk to women about what they need.” – Betty Francisco
“While we are trying to manage personally through this, all women are also trying to manage professionally to use our words and our emotions to change for all women in the industry.” – Karen Holmes Ward
“I don’t think I’ve ever had the choice of whether to be strong…Resiliency is applauded, but when you live in communities like mine, you are tired. What it really is is generational trauma. I want to create a community where little girls have a choice.” – Representative Liz Miranda
“I have so many stories of being ‘the only’ in a space, but there are many people who are grateful for you being there.” – Dr. Altaf Saadi
“We misunderstand what power is sometimes and giving it away is how we get it back…There’s a difference between mentorship and champion. I am a champion. Invite other women to speak and help them build that strength.” – Deb Taft

This event would not be possible without our attendees, awardees, our host, YW Boston staff, host committee, and the generous support of our event sponsors. We wish to thank them for supporting such a wonderful celebration.

Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we came close to reaching our fundraising goal during this year’s Academy of Women Achievers Celebration. We still need to raise a little over $9,000 to hit our $26,000 goal. If you wish to support YW Boston’s mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, and help us reach our fundraising goal, you can make a donation by visiting ywboston.org/donate.

We hope you will join us for next year’s celebration!

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About YW Boston

As the first YWCA in the nation, YW Boston has been at the forefront of advancing equity for over 150 years. Through our DE&I Services—InclusionBoston and LeadBoston—as well as our advocacy work and F.Y.R.E. Initiative, we help individuals and organizations change policies, practices, attitudes, and behaviors with a goal of creating more inclusive environments where women, people of color, and especially women of color can succeed.

As part of that work, we are helping organizations prioritize Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and become socially connected while staying physically distant. During this time, YW Boston is providing organizations with digital workshops and resources to help them better understand the challenges faced by their employees. For more information, please contact Sheera Bornstein at sheera@ywboston.org.