As the nation kicked off Women’s History Month, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies hosted Rising Together: Local Women Leading Change, a breakfast to celebrate the impactful work of local women who have advanced progressive and catalytic change. At the event, held Friday, March 2, at the Park Hyatt in Manhattan, prominent New York women discussed how this moment of increased focus on equity as demonstrated by the Women’s March and #MeToo can become a lasting movement for change. Honorees included U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand; Tamika D. Mallory, Carmen Perez, Bob Bland and Linda Sarsour, national co-chairs of the Women’s March; Joanne N. Smith, founder and executive director of Girls for Gender Equity; and Glynda C. Carr and Kimberly Peeler-Allen, founders of Higher Heights for America.
In the wake of the new presidential administration, women have organized, marched in the streets and demanded to be heard. Rising together to change politics and society, these women and millions of others answered the call for more aggressive engagement around gender equity, sexual harassment and other issues restricting the progress of women.
The FPWA, an advocacy organization that fights for low-income communities, wanted to create space for these women to continue their momentum by sharing ideas for change and action. At the breakfast, more than 100 influential New York City women discussed voter participation, increasing awareness of women’s issues in government and boosting engagement in future elections.
“We were truly inspired by the women who gathered for the Rising Together event—the very change makers seizing moments and leading movements for more inclusive communities across our nation,” said FPWA CEO and executive director, Jennifer Jones Austin. “One thing that’s resoundingly clear is that women are leading. Women are stepping up and becoming change agents. We’ve been on the front lines forever, but we’re now filling leadership roles like never before—and this bodes well for our communities. I’m absolutely inspired.”
The breakfast featured a special message from Sen. Gillibrand.
“I’m very proud to stand with FPWA, which has been built on the goals of reducing poverty, advancing opportunity and sharing in prosperity—essentially, love others as yourself,” said Gillibrand. “This core value informs all that we do. More women than ever before are raising their voices, speaking out and demanding to be heard—and it is changing our country for the better. The next chapter of the women’s movement is being written, and it’s up to each of us to keep raising our voices and fighting for what we believe in.”
Cheryl Wills, anchor of “NY1 Live at Ten” and host of “In Focus with Cheryl Wills,” served as mistress of ceremonies and co-led two panel discussions around seizing moments, and turning those moments into rousing and historical movements. Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, also served as co-facilitator.
The first panel of the morning, moderated by Austin and Wills, focused on capitalizing on moments, and putting drive into action. It featured two co-chairs from the historic Women’s March, Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour.