THE BLACK WOMEN'S AGENDA, INC. HONORS FIVE AS
BEACONS OF "ACHIEVEMENT AND ACTION"
37th Annual Symposium Hosts Caregiving Forum and
Workshop Introducing Girls to the Challenges of Climate Change
&Careers in Environmental Science
WASHINGTON, DC - September 26, 2014 - Five women, steadfast in their commitment to helping African-American women build better lives for themselves and their families, were honored today by The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. (BWA) at its 37th Annual Symposium: Workshop &Luncheon held at the Grand Hyatt Washington. More than 1,000 people saluted the awardees and participated in the organization's workshops on caregiving and climate change.
"Our honorees - the Rev. Dr. Bernice King, a civil rights and community activist following in the footsteps of her parents Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King; Frances L. Brisbane, Ph.D., Dean of Stony Brook University's School of Social Work and of the Black Alcoholism and Addictions Institute; Susan L. Taylor, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Essence magazine and Founder & CEO, National CARES Mentoring Movement; Cathy L. Hughes, Chairperson of the Board and Secretary, Radio One, and Niya Nelson, a second-year honors student in Hampton University's five-year MBA program - are beacons of achievement and action that shine lights that help lead others to a better place," said BWA National President Gwainevere Catchings Hess.
The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. was founded in 1977 by ten courageous women who drafted and presented The Black Women's Action Plan,a manifesto outlining the needs and concerns of African-American women, at the International Women's Year Conference held in Houston. Formally established that same year as a national non-profit, BWA generates support and awareness for issues that secure, advance and protect the rights and well-being of Black women and their families. It is comprised of 20 National Collaborating Organizations - sororities, civic, service and faith-based - representing millions of women worldwide. Its membership includes former and current corporate executives, professionals, entrepreneurs, government officials, religious and community leaders, as well as sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Earlier this year, BWA partnered with AARP to host "Because We Care™," a series of forums designed to provide African-American women and their families with information and resources that enable them to take better care of their loved ones and themselves. Launched in New York City with support from Colgate-Palmolive Company, the forums are taking place in 15 cities across the United States. During this morning's Symposium, a panel of experts focused the cost of caregiving in human, financial and legal terms, providing forum attendees with a road map to preparing and providing care, as well as "go to" resources for information and support.
"We knew when we launched the "Because We Care™" initiative that caregiving was a major issue affecting African-American women and their families. However, the response that we received, the hunger for information and support that we witnessed, made it clear that this has become something of a crisis not just in the African-American community, but also in the larger society," said BWA's Hess. "The Black Women's Agenda and its National Collaborating Organizations are raising awareness around the issue of caregiving, but we're not stopping there. We are taking what we've learned from all of the forums to frame and advocate for action that will make a tangible difference in terms of assisting and empowering caregivers and their families."
The BWA Symposium also introduced a signature program for middle school girls which it plans to roll out regionally next year, in partnership with its National Collaborating Organizations. The "Introduction to the Science of Climate Change" workshop paired more than two dozen girls enrolled in Girls, Inc. and the Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science with distinguished Black women scientists and leaders in the environmental arena. Together, they conducted experiments that demonstrated how sustainability and climate change impact their communities, considered what they could do as individuals to reduce the impact of climate change, and explored non-traditional STEM careers. Workshop leaders also shared personal experiences, recalling what it was like to be teased because they were smart or interested in science. "A number of the girls my age found themselves pregnant in high school," confided Dr. Mamie Parker, retired Assistant Director, Fisheries and Habitat Conservation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, "but I was interested in science and fishing. I tell young people all the timethat had I not been fishing, I might have been kissing too. I'm pretty happy with how things turned out for me."
For additional information about The Black Women's Agenda, Inc., please visit www.bwa-inc.org.