Women of Courage
University of Washington Women's Center
WOMEN of COURAGE:
Braving New Horizons
On Saturday November 3, 2012 I had the honor of being recognized by the University of Washington Women's Center 3rd annual gala, Women of Courage: Braving New Horizons. This extravagant event took place at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle. Ten other women were also honored for their dedication to social or political issues and for making a positive difference in these areas.
The expansive criteria for the award included:
- Women who are braving a new horizon, either through younger generations or by inspiring new ways of thinking.
- Women who are pushing the envelope creating new, non-traditional or unconventional ways to approach or solve social or political issues.
- Women who are bettering society beyond their personal self.
- Women who have found alternative ways to advancing the "cause".
- Women who are changing political or social landscape with respect to gender, human rights, discrimination, injustice, socially accepted norms and customs, and personal liberty.
- Women who are demonstrating significant courage or bravery.
The gala began with a sponsor/honoree reception where we mingled with the other women being recognized along with the generous sponsors of the Women's Center. Everyone was quite stunning in their cocktail attire while Phoenix Jones (my husband) and I attended in our superhero suits at the University's request. I felt a little out of place at first... but everyone so warm and genuinely interested in why I use the symbol of a superhero in my activism. Many people approached me to offer congratulations, give thanks for my work, and asked to take pictures with us in our suits. I immediately began to feel at ease.
During dinner (priced at $150 per plate!), the lovely Lori Matsukawa from King 5 News emceed and Lee Rhodes, founder of GlassyBaby, was the honored speaker of the evening. The generous people in attendance pledged close to $144,000 towards the Women's Center! These funds will be used to support programs such as Making Connections, NEW Leadership Puget Sound, Re-Entry, Lifelong Learning, Human Trafficking Research and Policy Development, and Gender Equity and Violence Prevention.
The presentation concluded with each of us honorees being invited on stage to be recognized for our achievements Josephine Howell provided live musical entertainment and joined us on stage to sing Whitney Houston's "I'm Every Woman," which of course, got everyone in the mood for dancing the rest of the evening!
Here is an excerpt from my introduction at the event, including some areas of my work that I was recognized for:
In comic books, tragic events shape the rise of heroes. In the case of real life superhero Purple Reign, the abuse she overcame transformed her from victim, to survivor, to hero as she now dedicates her life to stopping domestic violence.
Purple and her husband, Phoenix Jones, are co-founders of the Rain City Superhero Movement, a team active in stopping violent street crime in Seattle, WA. The symbol of the superhero in their community activism separates them from the criminals, gives hope, and draws attention to causes that tend to be ignored. As a survivor of violence, Purple took her community activism from the streets to a personal, domestic level.
She founded a nonprofit, The Purple Reign Campaign, to raise funds and give resources to abuse victims. The PRC also engages the community through contests, art, silent auctions, and music concerts. Purple has shared her message on TV shows such as New Day NW and Dr. Drew, was a guest speaker at GeekGirlCon, plus she’s brought in the help and support of celebrity Rainn Wilson. Local shelters and safe-houses are the recipients of the donations. Purple also speaks about bullying at schools to reach children at a young age about standing up for others and the value of human life - all in an effort to stop the cycle of violence.
In Purple’s eyes, it’s a matter of life or death that people are educated in speaking out against abuse. She says, "When people stay silent, victims die. Abuse is not a private family matter. I was silent for too long and almost died. My neighbors heard my cries for help, yet they didn't call the police or come to my rescue. It is our responsibility as human beings to speak up and help victims. It’s time to STOP minding our own business and be someone’s hero. There are villains and heroes in the imaginary world of comics just as there are in the real world. Lives are being lost and the world needs more heroes."
I was humbled and proud to stand on stage with these inspirational and hard working women. Each one has a remarkable story and impact that she's made in our world. I encourage you to look them up. The other honorees (in order of introduction at the event):
- Justice Bobbe J. Bridge, ret.
- Lisa Brodoff
- Colleen B. Brown
- Pepper Fewel
- Debbie Hugo
- Taryn Kama
- Senator Jeanne Kohl Welles
- Julie Pham, PhD
- Purple Reign
- Gaby Rodriguez
- Tracey Thompson