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*YWCA hosts Women of Color Leading Change – A panel discussion to recognize and inspire local social justice leaders






YWCA of Asheville is hosting Women of Color Leading Change, a panel discussion highlighting local women of color (WOC) who are leading grassroots efforts towards equity and inclusion. The focus of the event will be on challenges faced and success stories from WOC leaders along with words of wisdom for others looking to make change in their communities.

Panelists include Marta Alcala-Williams, Parent Family Engagement Coordinator for Asheville City Schools, Dewana Little, Community Engagement Coordinator with Asheville GreenWorks, Iindia Pearson, Community Advocate and Asheville Residents’ Council member, and Phyllis Utley, community activist. The event will take place on Thursday, April 27 from6:30 – 8:30 pm at the Wesley Grant Southside Center.

Despite outpacing other groups in college education, leading social progress since the very beginning, and often being the primary breadwinner in their households, WOC are consistently underrepresented in positions of leadership throughout all sectors nationwide. The statistics around the gender and race gaps in leadership positions are sobering.

Only four percent of elected officials across the country are WOC – this includes federal, state, and local positions. In the corporate world, only 14 percent of executive officers in Fortune 500 companies are women. Of these, only 18 of those companies have female CEOs with 0.4 percent of these CEOs being Asian or Black and no Latina CEOs. Even in nonprofit organizations, where women make up the majority of employees, only 45 percent of CEOs and executive directors are women.

Asheville is not an exception to this imbalance, but the YWCA is on a mission to shed more light on this disparity and inspire our community to embrace the leadership of women particularly WOC. Only through diverse voices will true equality emerge. Because women, especially WOC, see and experience the world through different lenses, their presence in leadership roles is imperative to help shape more equitable policies, workplaces, and systems in our communities. 

The YWCA’s Stand Against Racism, in partnership with YWCA Associations throughout the country, aims to build community among those who work for racial justice and to raise awareness around the negative impact of institutional and structural racism.

Below is a list of highlighted 2017 Stand Against Racism events:

Saturday, April 8 and Sunday, April 9, 9 am – 4:30 pm

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Story Medicine for Racial Healing provides new spaces and ancient ways to use language, listening, memory and story for addressing an old, worn-out social issue.


Saturday, April 8, 12 – 1 pm

Dancing Bear Toys

A superhero-themed social justice workshop for kids.


Thursday, April 13, 2 – 3:30 pm

A-B Tech Community College in the Mission Health/A-B Tech Conference Center

“Stand Up, Speak Out for Respect and Dignity” a panel discussion that explores how to embrace and support each other that will include members of our diverse faith community, our LGBTQ community, and our minority communities.


Tuesday, April 18, 6 – 9 pm

Francine Delany New School for Children

Film screening of the documentary “13th” an exploration of the intersection of race, justice and mass incarceration in the United States. There will be a facilitated talk-back after the film.


Wednesday, April 19, 6 – 8:30 pm

YWCA Multipurpose Room

Democracy NC seeks to explore the link between current barriers to meaningful civic engagement and the historical struggles of people of color, women, poor, and young people by examining the intersections of race, class, and power.


Thursday, April 20, 6 – 8 pm

Rainbow Community School

Building Bridges of Asheville invites you to a panel discussion on how racism has changed from the inception of Building Bridges in 1993 to where we are now in 2017.


Saturday, April 22, 10 am – 1 pm

The Center for Craft, Creativity & Design

Think through issues of racial and cultural identity in this all levels bookbinding workshop. Participants will use 6-word memoirs, critical questioning, and collaborative techniques to explore different ways to share a story.


Monday, April 24, 6 – 8 pm

Rainbow Community School

Educators for Equity presents “Collaborative Conversations: Creating Equity in our Schools.” What does equity look like for education in Asheville and Buncombe County, and what are our roles and responsibilities for ensuring all students have access to quality learning environments?


Tuesday, April 25, 12 – 1 pm
MAHEC Education Center

The WNC Diversity Engagement Coalition invites you to a free lunch and learn. Marisol Jimenez, an accomplished equity and inclusion organizer, facilitator, and advocate, with Tepeyac Consulting, will lead a workshop that serves as an opportunity to develop language and frameworks for advancing equity within your organizations and communities.


Tuesday, April 25, 6 – 8 pm

Diane Wortham Theater

Join us for the “The Ripple Effect: with Mia Birdsong a community conversation on how your actions create positive change. Mia Birdsong is an acclaimed community advocate who speaks about the value of community and self-determination.


Sunday, April 30, 3 – 4 pm

Arthur R. Edington Education & Career Center

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County, in partnership with the Residents Council of Asheville Housing Authority presents “Standing on the Shoulders of African American Women Pioneers.” This event will highlight portrayals of past and present change agents.

 For more details about this campaign and for a full list of local events visit

About YWCA

YWCA of Asheville is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women. We offer programs that bridge gaps in education, health care, child care and earning power. These programs include an Early Learning Program (childcare), Primary Enrichment Program (after school and summer camp), MotherLove (education and support for pregnant and parenting teens), Getting Ahead (education and empowerment for women working to move out of poverty) Empowerment Child Care (support for women improving their economic future), Preventive Health & Diabetes Wellness, Aquatics (swim lessons), and the YWCA Fitness Club. The YWCA has been in Asheville since 1907 and currently serves more than 2,500 families a year. Learn more at

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