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U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, Journalist April Ryan, West Point Cadet Simone Askew and
the NAACP's Hazel Dukes
Among Award Recipients

Kara McCullough, NRC Physical Scientist & Reigning Miss USA, Addresses
"Inform & Inspire" Workshop
for Girls

The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. (BWA) celebrated its 40th anniversary by honoring the achievements of six phenomenal women at its Annual Symposium Workshop & Awards Luncheon on September 22, 2017. BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess (right) is pictured here with awardees Cadet Simone Askew (left), the first African-American woman to lead the Corps of Cadets at West Point, and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris

The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. (BWA) celebrated its 40th anniversary on Friday, September 22nd, hosting its Annual Symposium Workshop & Awards Luncheon in the nation's capital and encouraging the more than 1,200 elected officials, journalists, corporate and community leaders and members of its National Collaborating Organizations who attended the event to help chart a path for the future.

"For 40 years, The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. has protected, secured, and advanced, the issues and rights of African-American women and their families," explained BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess. "Today we pay tribute to our founders. In these anxious and uncertain times, we also reaffirm our commitment to speaking truth to power and securing for Black women all of the opportunities and privileges America promises its citizens."

During its Awards Luncheon, BWA continued the tradition of recognizing the achievements of phenomenal women. This year's award recipients included:

Senator Kamala Harris: "The Black Women's Agenda is America's Agenda"

The Honorable Kamala D. Harris: Dynamic U.S. Senator representing the State of California and a lifelong public safety and civil rights leader. Serving as California's Attorney General, Harris prosecuted transnational gangs exploiting women and children and trafficking in guns and drugs. As a member of the Senate, she co-introduced a bipartisan bill which encourages states to reform or replace the practice of money bail. She spoke out against President Donald Trump's decision to ban transgender individuals from serving in the military and called upon him to protect the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides immigrant students who arrived in the U.S. as children with temporary relief from deportation. Senator Harris was presented with BWA's President's Award.

April Ryan: White House Correspondent and Washington Bureau Chief for American Urban Radio Network and a political analyst for CNN, accepted BWA's Education Award. A member of the White House press corps for more than 20 years, Ryan has distinguished herself by conducting one-on-one interviews with Presidents Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, as well as key members of their administration. She has also kept issues of interest and importance to minorities front and center by posing tough questions to President Donald Trump and his staff during press conferences and White House briefings.

Cadet Simone Askew: The first African-American woman to lead the 4,400 Corps of Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point received BWA's Pinnacle Award. An international history major from Fairfax, VA, Askew assumed the highest position in the cadet chain of command last month. As first captain, she is responsible for the overall performance of the Corps of Cadets as well as serving as a liaison between the cadets and the military school's administration.

Nearly 700 women attended the "Living Your Best Life" workshop hosted by The Black Women's Agenda, Inc. during its 40th Annual Symposium Workshop & Awards Luncheon in Washington, DC. Star Jones (2nd left), attorney, author and television personality moderated the panel which included, among others, (l to r): Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications, Inc., AT&T Senior VP Claudia Jones, and Nikki Giovanni, celebrated poet and activist

Patricia A. Maryland, Dr.PH: Executive Vice President Ascension and President and Chief Executive Officer Ascension Health Care, was the recipient of BWA's Health Award. Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization dedicated to transformation through innovation across the continuum of care. Dr. Maryland has responsibility for the strategic and operational aspects of Ascension Healthcare, with more than 141 hospitals and 2500 sites of care in 24 states and Washington, DC.

Dr. Hazel N. Dukes: President, NAACP New York State Conference, was introduced as the organization's Economic and Business Awardee. Dr. Dukes has a long and devoted record of helping to improve the quality of life in New York State, promoting equality and human rights, and linking business, government, and social causes. Dr. Dukes also serves on the NAACP National Board of Directors and the organization's Executive Committee.

Briana Richardson: A freshman at Spelman College, majoring in political science received BWA's Bright Future Award, which recognizes a student or group of students whose academic achievements and service to school and community distinguish them as future leaders and success stories. The co-founder and president of her high school's "The Activist Among Us Club," Richardson was named by former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick as one of the state's "Outstanding Young People."

This year, BWA's perennially popular workshop invited women to focus on themselves by "Living Your Best Life at Every Age." Moderated by lawyer and television personality Star Jones, the interactive forum encouraged the nearly 700 participants to broaden horizons, welcome challenges and agitate norms. Panelists included: Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications, Inc.; Linda Goler Blount, President and CEO, Black Women's Health Imperative; Tashni-Ann Dubroy, Ph.D., Executive VP and Chief Operating Officer, Howard University and former president of Shaw University; Cadet Simone Askew, First Captain, Corps of Cadets, United States Military Academy; Nikki Giovanni, Distinguished Professor, Virginia Tech University and a celebrated poet, writer, and activist, and Claudia Jones, Senior VP, Public Affairs and Communications, AT&T.

During BWA's "Inform & Inspire" workshop for middle-school age girls, Dr. Jeanita Pritchett (seated left), research chemist and scientific advisor, National Institute of Standards and Technology; Dr. Gwendolyn Boyd (seated center), a prominent mechanical engineer and civic leader, and Kara McCullough (seated right), a physical scientist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the reigning Miss USA, encouraged participants to pursue academic excellence, believe in themselves and engineer a path for career success

BWA also hosted an Inform & Inspire workshop for middle-school age girls enrolled in a Washington, DC chapter of Girls, Inc. The program featured Kara McCullough, a physical scientist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the reigning Miss USA who, in a lively, candid discussion, reminded the girls that pursuing a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, setting goals and working hard to realize them can be a beautiful thing.

In the United States these days, the word "out" is popping up with disturbing frequency," said BWA's Hess. "There are people who want to kick LGBTQ service people 'out' of the military. There are those who are in favor of building a wall to keep immigrants 'out' of our country. Officials are redrawing districts in various cities to keep some citizens 'out' of the voting booths. That's not who we are as a nation, and it can't be what we allow America to become. Today, I ask you to reject the politics of fear, hatred, and division and focus instead on the word 'in.' Invite, inform, inspire, initiate, instruct, invest, innovate, include. We must take an active role in reclaiming this nation's conscience, and we must begin this work today."

Video - Symposium Workshop (Full Program)


40th Symposium Photo Gallery


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Past Symposiums


BWA 2016 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos

BWA 2015 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos

BWA 2014 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos

BWA 2013 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos

BWA 2012 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos

BWA 2011 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos

BWA 2010 Annual Luncheon Awards and Workshop Photos



"The Black Women's Agenda, Inc."
5335 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W. Suite 440, Washington, DC 20015-2052
Office: 202.730.2637 Fax: 202.730.2638 Email: bwa@bwa-inc.org

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