Women of Achievement Awards

2009 Award Winners

theme – promoting solutions to improve the lives of women, girls and people of color

Women of Achievement Awards are recognized nationally. They increase awareness and appreciation of the diverse contributions of women. YWCA Northern Rhode Island is pleased to announce the Women of Achievement award Winners for 2009, fourteen local women promoting solutions to improve the lives of women, girls and people of color.

View the photo gallery.

ELIMINATING RACISM:Image Clarice L. Thompson is a musicologist, music educator, composer and entertainer. She is founder and executive/artistic director at RPM Voices RI; visiting lecturer of Africana Studies at Brown University; music director and artist at Rites and Reason Theatre; and artist-in-resident at the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School and the Providence Black Repertory Company.
“I view music and music making to be at the core of daily living, activity and cultural identity.” – Clarice L. Thompson


EMPOWERING WOMEN:Image Shanna Wells is director of the Rhode Island Commission on Women and works toward parity for women. Most notable of her efforts have been in the areas of women and girls in non-traditional trades, pay equity, comparable worth and women’s financial planning.
“I believe that if you wish for peace, you must work for justice.” – Shanna Wells


EMPOWERING WOMEN: Image Margaret “Digit” Murphy is head women’s hockey coach at Brown University. Through two decades of coaching, she has impacted the lives of hundreds of young women. She is one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history (a career record of 313-200-49) and the first female to reach 300 wins.
“I truly believe that with my position of authority comes a responsibility to educate my athletes, not only in hockey, but also as people. At all of my camps and clinics, we strive to weave sessions on female leadership into the daily skills and drills.” – Digit Murphy


INCREASING WOMEN’S INCOME: Image Donna Walsh is a State Representative and leading pay equity advocate in Rhode Island. She encourages women to run for public office – participating in state, national and local forums.
“In order to empower women, we must put more women into elected positions at all levels.” – Donna Walsh


INCREASING WOMEN’S INCOME: Image Lisa Bergeron is president of Leading Women SENE. She conducts seminars and workshops to prepare women for the business world. Bergeron is a motivational speaker.
“The attitude we choose profoundly affects the way you lead your life . . . believe in yourself.” – Lisa Bergeron


INCREASING ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE: Image Yvonne Freeman works at Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island as a medical management team lead. She educates young women on healthcare issues and advocates for prenatal care. Freeman empowers young women facilitating discussions on positive life decisions: goal setting, self esteem building, developing healthy relationships, safe sexual health, being responsible and exercising community leadership. ” . . . be the keeper of women’s issues.” – Yvonne Freeman.


SUPPORTING ANTI-VIOLENCE POLICIES/PROGRAMS: Image Paige Clausius-Parks is an advisor and teacher at The Met Center. She developed/executed staff training on interrupting oppression and also created a Response to Hate Crimes protocol.
“I advise to always remember your truth and voice is what makes a difference, one person at a time.” – Paige Clausius-Parks

 SUPPORTING ANTI-VIOLENCE POLICIES/PROGRAMS: Image Kathleen A. Taylor is co-chair for the Healthy Families Initiative at the Rhode Island Council for Muslim Advancement. She is founder of this grassroots movement offering intervention/prevention services to Muslims experiencing domestic violence.
“Never be fearful of walking to the beat of your own heart, listen to what your intuition tells you and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith.” – Kathleen A. Taylor


PROMOTING PEACE: Image Nancy Rafi is executive director of Rhode Island Crisis Assistance Center. She is founder/president at Rafi Productions and co-creator of the Silent Witness project in Rhode Island.
“Be your genuine self. There is no better you than you. Value your story and its ability to light the way for others. Stand tall and strong against anyone who might try to diminish you.” – Nancy Rafi


Image Ana Giron is the director of victim services for the Department of Attorney General. She oversees a team of advocates who provide a comprehensive program of services to felony crime victims and their families as they navigate their way through the criminal justice system.
“Never judge anyone.” – Ana Giron


Image Tracy C. Baran is counselor at law at Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP and is involved with the Women Advocates for Enterprise initiative. She serves on the board of directors for the Rhode Island Women’s Bar Association, developing a mentoring program with the Women’s Law Society of the Roger Williams School of Law.
“Believe in what you do.” – Tracy C. Baran


PROMOTING DIGNITY: Image Mary-Kim Arnold is the executive director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities. She works to promote the public humanities so that all Rhode Islanders can explore and discuss respectfully how the past impacts current times in an effort to influence the future.
“The study and practice of the humanities enables us to learn about other cultures, other communities.” – Mary-Kim Arnold


PROMOTING DIGNITY: Image Valerie Tutson is a storyteller and executive director of the Rhode Island Black Storytellers. She builds community through stories.
“I believe that when we hear the stories of other people, our neighbors, that we gain insight and understanding about other people’s experiences. That understanding works to eliminate prejudice and racism.” – Valerie Tutson


HELPING HANDS: Image A special presentation will be made to Karen Feldman, co-director of Young Voices. Feldman has more than 20 years of experience in the field of youth leadership development. She extends this expertise to YWCA Northern Rhode Island’s Parenting in Progress program, an alternative education program for parenting and pregnant young women.
“I believe in the power of youth to transform our world.” – Karen Feldman