For our 2023 Inspire Luncheon: Rise, Thrive, and Reconnect, our emcee Mona Lee Locke guided us as we reconnected with our extended YWCA community, watched an incredible performance from Northwest Tap Connection, and heard from past YWCA staff and leadership as well as our Luncheon keynote speaker: Misty Copeland.
Our Luncheon LINEUP
Northwest Tap Connection dazzled us with their brilliant performance and showed off the next generation's talent while preparing us to hear from a luminary ballerina: Misty Copeland.
As the first Black woman to be promoted to the position of Principal Dancer with the American Ballet Theatre, Misty Copeland is an inspiration for many young BIPOC women. She has continued to create opportunities for others as a trailblazer in her field, and as an activist, she is continuously advocating for wider accessibility to the arts for all people.
During her Q&A with our emcee Mona Lee Locke, Misty discussed her experience in an industry where there were no role models or women like her.
It takes so much sacrifice and dedication and consistent work to climb the ranks of a ballet company [...] It's not just about the physical feats, it's about developing as an artist, it's about having a agency over yourself and being able to advocate for yourself in a company where you're surrounded by incredible talent. But as a Black woman, it made it even harder. I was the only Black woman at American Ballet Theater for the first decade of my career.
Ballet was not made to support someone who looks like me. I mean, you think about something as simple and what seems as trivial as pink ballet tights and pink ballet slippers, and that's the first thing that excludes so many people because that's supposed to represent your skin color. And if that doesn't say "you don't belong" then I don't know what does.
The Misty Copeland Foundation, which which aims to bring greater diversity, equity and inclusion to dance, especially ballet, is Misty's way of increasing accessibility to the arts and showing BIPOC children that they do belong.
It's not about creating the next ballet superstar, it's about exposing them to the arts and allowing them to develop those skills to be leaders and whatever it is they choose to do.
Seeing young people that have a passion and that want to make a difference and want to use their voice and that idea of social justice and art and art activism— to me, that's what's going to keep our world growing and changing. That's so inspiring and empowering, and anything I can do to create a space for them to be able to continue to do those things and create is my goal.
I think that art has the power to bring people together, it has the power to transcend religion, race, language, and if you don't see yourself represented, how can it do any of those things?
- Misty Copeland
As a YWCA Community Jobs alumni, Camille McCoy knows first-hand how YWCA's programs help move people from surviving to thriving. Our Community Jobs program provides individuals with the opportunity to build a positive work history, gain on-the-job skills, and reduce barriers to employment. Camille explained how she gained self-confidence through this program, as well as a full-time job with YWCA WorkSource, where she's been employed for over 16 years.
After being here in Community Jobs for about a month, I started to realize the skills and how I was able to help people. That started to boost my confidence, and for me to be able to know that I am employable, and that I am capable of doing anything that I wanna do.
- Camille McCoy
YWCA wants to do more than just help people in crisis, and CEO of YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish Maria Chavez-Wilcox emphasized the importance of equity and advocacy while working to meet the needs of women and girls in our community.
Our YWCA has worked to meet the needs of women and girls for nearly 130 years. [We] offer direct services for housing, economic advancement, health, and gender-based violence. We continued to implement our strategic direction and move toward our goal of helping women go from surviving to thriving. We used our voice to advocate for public policies that support equity, and worked with community partners to find solutions that meet the needs of our community now and in the future. Our legacy is to ensure that all women and girls in the communities we serve are receiving the services they need to not only survive, but thrive.
- Maria Chavez-Wilcox
From the bottom of our hearts: thank you. Supporters like you are the reason why YWCA has been able to continue its vital work providing programs that offer safety, stability, and opportunities. We couldn’t do this without you!
If you didn’t have an opportunity to donate during the event, there’s still time to make a Luncheon gift! Thank you again for your continued support, and thank you for making our 2023 Luncheon such a huge success.
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