On Monday, November 18th, Network members gathered at Elizabeth’s on L in Washington, DC for the 6th Annual Barbara Seaman Awards for Activism in Women’s Health. This year’s event honored two women who have tirelessly and unabashedly advocated on behalf of women everywhere.
After the death of Network co-founder Barbara Seaman in 2008, the Board of Directors created the Activism in Women’s Health Awards in recognition of Barbara’s lifetime of dedication to women’s health. In describing the Awards to the enthusiastic guests, Executive Director Cindy Pearson said, “Barbara was audacious, bold, and unrelenting — just as each of us should be. Certainly those who seek to dismantle and eliminate the rights we fought so hard to get are acting like that. The Awards we present tonight exemplify Barbara’s spirit and approach, including her unwavering insistence on listening to women, her dogged determination to see abuses corrected, and her efforts to build bridges between generations.”
Each year, the Network presents two awards. The first, which honors Barbara’s lifetime of activism, is presented to an experienced advocate who has dedicated her life to advancing issues related to women’s health. This year’s experienced activist award recipient was Nancy Boothe, Executive Director of Atlanta’s Feminist Women’s Health Center. Since 1994, Nancy has led the Center’s group of talented employees and volunteers on a mission to maintain and grow access to quality health care within a reproductive justice framework. Utilizing her previous volunteer and work experience, Nancy has expanded the Clinic’s client base, and built collaborations within the social justice and human rights communities.
Ninia Baehr, Network Board Member and LGBT Advocacy Coordinator at the ACLU of Montana, presented Nancy’s award. Ninia said, “Nancy is frank when she speaks about the external threats to the Center’s mission which seem to be escalating on the part of Georgia legislators who only represent a minority of Georgians when it comes to women’s health and prevention issues.” In accepting the Award, Nancy movingly acknowledged that working in a health clinic is hectic, and said: “Although assuring women can overcome the barriers to experience the reproductive freedoms and promises of Roe v. Wade remains gratifying, the challenges have increased the ‘to do’ list of clinics like ours throughout our country.”
The second award, which honors Barbara’s reputation as a friend and mentor to young women, is presented to an emerging health activist. This year’s emerging activist award was Zerlina Maxwell. Zerlina is a political analyst and contributing writer for The New York Daily News, Feministing.com, theGrio.com, BET.com, and EBONY.com. She writes about national politics, policy, and cultural issues such as domestic violence, sexual assault, victim-blaming, and gender inequality. Last fall, The New York Times featured Zerlina as a “political Twitter voice to follow” during the 2012 election season. She is a weekly guest and fill-in host for Make It Plain with Mark Thompson on SiriusXM Left and Democratic commentator on Fox News and MSNBC.
Zipatly Mendoza, Network Board Member and Office Chief at the Arizona Department of Health Services, presented Zerlina’s award. She said, “As we honor Zerlina for her work that emulates Barbara Seaman’s ethos, I think, a generation from now, we’ll see young women being honored for emulating the courageous, forthright, and inspiring Zerlina Maxwell!” In accepting the award, Zerlina reiterated the importance of speaking truth to power regardless of the reception that may result from being outspoken. Zerlina noted that the award affirmed the value — and truth — of what she has said and written.
Lori Kaplan, Executive Director of DC’s Latin American Youth Center (LAYC), was the event’s Guest Speaker. Lori described how LAYC helps guide thousands of low-income youth to better opportunity through its pioneering educational and youth development programs. She highlighted that LAYC and the Network both advance and augment the health services young women need to be successful. And, she emphasized the importance of affordable and accessible health care services that respond to an individual woman’s needs.
Dara Mendez, the Network’s Board Chair, served as Master of Ceremonies. Dara described the importance of the evening’s theme: A Lifetime of Advancing Women’s Health. She commented that the theme’s transcendent quality includes, “The lifetime of the Network, which is nearing 40 years; the lifetime of Nancy’s work, which spans a generation; the lifetime of Zerlina’s impact, which involves creating and sharing information through the evolution of print and social media; and the lifetime of Lori’s organization, which supports the mental, physical, and spiritual health of DC youth. From prenatal care to palliative care, the Network and our partners comprehend and advocate for women’s needs. Our work is not about today but about yesterday, today, and tomorrow.”
The Network thanks our sponsors who helped us raise more than $35,000 to further our critical work for women’s health. We look forward to seeing each of you in 2014 as we honor another group of daring individuals! To find out more about sponsorship opportunities, please contact Heidi Gider, Director of Advancement, at HGider@nwhn.org.
Photo credit: Peter Cutts
Thanks to Our Sponsors
Philip Corfman, M.D.
American Association for Justice
Employees of the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Health Center
in honor of Nancy Boothe
NWHN Board of Directors
Nueva Vista Group, LLC
Nancy Greenstreet, MD
Susan R. Hester
The National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Irene P. Rabinor
Lisa Rarick, M.D.
Alice J. Wolfson, J.D.
in memory of Barbara Seaman
Nancy Worcester, Ph.D.
Jane and Stacey Zones
Board of the Atlanta Feminist Women’s Health Center
Black Women’s Health Imperative
Cedar River Clinics Feminist Women’s Health Center (WA)
Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program of Hampshire College
Carrie Cwiak, M.D.
DC Abortion Fund
Alaine D. Duncan
The Feminist Women’s Health Centers of California
James A. Gibney
Lori M. Kaplan
Dr. Patti Owen-Smith
Reproductive Health Technologies Project
Frances Schneider Liau
Dr. Michelle Copeland
Personal Care Products Council Foundation
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
As of 11/20/13