“We deserve to thrive in this country,” says Ijeoma Oluo, one of the five women in this second half of our round-up of BIPOC women leading the way to social justice in and around Seattle.

Laura Clise

In an effort to create an easy one-stop shopping guide highlighting the many small businesses of Seattle and the diverse founders behind them, Laura Clise created The Intentionalist in 2017. The Intentionalist is an online platform and guide where shoppers can “spend like it matters” and select businesses that are owned by marginalized communities like the BIPOC community, the LGBT+ community, and the disability community. 

Originally from Seattle, Clise has lived and worked in multiple countries and across the United States, “instigating and championing cross-cultural, multi-stakeholder strategies at the intersection of business and society.” Last year, she was recognized as one of Seattle Magazine’s 25 Most Influential People (along with our CEO, Maria Chavez-Wilcox!) and as a Female Founders Alliance Unsung Hero Honoree. The Intentionalist blog keeps a regularly updated roster on how consumers can put their money where their community needs it most. 

LaNesha DeBardelaben

The mission of the Northwest African American Museum is to spread knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of the histories, arts, and cultures of people of African descent for the enrichment of all. As President and CEO of NAAM, LaNesha DeBardelaben is a champion of that vision. 

DeBardelaben has the passion and experience for the role, having earned multiple awards for her community and professional service including the 2019 WNBA Inspiring Women Award. She served as Senior Vice President at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit and currently serves as national president of the Association of African American Museums (AAAM) Board of Directors. Her efforts to spread awareness and education expand beyond the United States, having worked with museums and libraries in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, England, Germany, and Israel. 

Jeanice Hardy

Jeanice Hardy serves as YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish’s Regional Director of Homeless & Families Services for King County. In this role, she oversees critical service programs for survivors of gender-based violence, veterans looking for employment and housing support, and families and individuals facing homelessness. Because of Hardy’s knowledge of and passion for the program’s mission, she is frequently a spokesperson in the community for YWCA’s work and is a go-to for her experienced insight on the housing crisis.

Recently, in an article in Time Magazine focused on the future of housing after the current eviction ban, Hardy commented, “If we do not find a way to keep people in their homes, it’s going to be overload. There’s not enough shelters to go around.”

In this 2020 Next City article, Hardy talks about YWCA’s unique program Passage Point, a transitional housing location for parents recently exiting incarceration. The project also provides support services for residents to help with employment, family reconnection, mental health, as well as plans for permanent housing. 

In a Seattle Times article questioning whether the pandemic has streamlined processes for connecting community members to needed services, Hardy points out that new data shows the streamlined systems are working. 

With an eye to the future, she comments, “Isn’t this telling us something? If we’re finally meeting our [racial equity] benchmarks, why would we go back to the other way?”

Ijeoma Oluo

Ijeoma Oluo is a Seattle-based writer, editor, and speaker. Known most recently for authoring Mediocre: The Dangerous Legacy of White Male America, Oluo is also author of #1 New York Times bestseller So You Want to Talk About Race. Much of her work in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Stranger, and many other publications speaks to how people can join the conversation on race, feminism, social justice, intersectionality, and how to be a meaningful participant. 

Interviewed for Vox in 2020, Oluo said “I always ask myself when I’m trying to do solidarity work, can the people I’m in solidarity with actually feel this? Can they spend this? Can they eat this? Does this actually help them in any way? And if it doesn’t, let it go.”

Oluo was recently named one of the most influential people of 2021 on the TIME 100 list, has been twice named to the Root 100, and earned numerous awards for her work, including the 2018 Feminist Humanist Award and 2020 Harvard Humanist of the Year Award.

Ijeoma Oluo will be featured at YWCA’s Stand Against Racism Town Hall on April 30. To become part of the conversation, register here

Hollis Wong-Wear    

Hollis Wong-Wear is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter based in Seattle and Los Angeles. A freelance creative with a foundation in slam poetry, Hollis is also a speaker, an activist, and a community advocate. 

With a strong belief in the influence that creativity and the arts has on conversations surrounding social justice and strong communities, Hollis has spoken for organizations such as Planned Parenthood, KEXP, WrapWomen, and, in 2020, Hollis co-hosted YWCA's first ever virtual luncheon, which raised upwards of $675,000 to support YWCA programs with the mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. 

Hollis has received Seattle University’s 2016 Outstanding Recent Alumna Award and is also a Google Next Gen Policy Leader, a Humanity in Action Fellow, and serves on several boards and commissions in the Seattle area. 

In an interview from Colorlines, Hollis talks about the strong role her mother played in her life and her artistic journey weaving creativity with political activism. “My mom owned a Chinese restaurant when I was born, in a suburb outside of San Francisco. My mom, being a total boss and entrepreneur, employed a staff of probably a dozen Chinese immigrants, including some of our relatives, and ran a de facto community space,” Hollis says. “That has a lot to do with my own [path].”

Do you know an individual or company actively working to advance equity in King County or Snohomish County? If so, nominate them for the inaugural 2021 Bertha Pitts Campbell Equity Awards! We're looking for nominations in three categories: Individual Champion, Rising Champion, and Business Champion

Also, make sure to register for our upcoming 10th Annual Stand Against Racism Townhall on April 30 featuring local changemaker, Ijeoma Oluo.

Annalee Schafranek

Annalee Schafranek is the Marketing & Editorial Director at YWCA. She contributes agency news, press releases, and media coverage to the website. Annalee’s educational and professional experience has always focused on the place where gender equity and media meet.


We share the stories of our program participants, programs, and staff, as well as news about the agency and what’s happening in our King and Snohomish community.

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Wed, 03/31/2021 - 13:09
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