Friday, April 17, 2015

Gloria Awards Honor Everyday Feminists

On May 11, 2015, the Ms. Foundation for Women will celebrate its 27th annual Gloria Awards: A Salute to Women of Vision at the Pierre Hotel in New York City. The Gloria Awards, named for Gloria Steinem — one of the organization’s founding mothers — is a yearly celebration to benefit Ms. Foundation grantees around the country. This year, six honorees — including two Ms. Foundation grantees — will be recognized as “Women of Vision.”

Honorees include Ms. Foundation grantees ACT for Women and Girls and Centro de los Derechos del Migrante,Inc. Other Women of Vision honorees include Janet Mock, Suzanne Lerner and toy company GoldieBlox. The foundation will also present the first-ever Peggy Charren/Free to Be Award to Joan Ganz Cooney. Honorees are chosen based on their grassroots work to raise the collective voices of women and their innovative leadership, courage and actions toward the realization of a shared vision for a just and inclusive democracy for all.

Background on this year’s honorees:

ACT for Women and Girls, from Visalia, California, is an organization that engages women of all ages in leadership opportunities to promote social and personal change. Currently, ACT for Women and Girls is spearheading a Pharmacy Access campaign aimed at evaluating the how pharmacies treat teens seeking sexual health information and access to birth control, including emergency contraception. The campaign also trains teens on how to discuss the myths around emergency contraception and the real barriers to access with their peers.

Centro de los Derechos del Migrante, Inc. (CDM ) was created in 2005 in response to abuses against migrant workers in rural Florida. Today, the organization advocates for migrant workers, focusing mainly on improving working conditions. In the past 10 years, CDM has met with more than 6,000 people to ensure that migrants know their rights and have recourse when they are violated. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, CDM has collaborated with workers and allies across the country to recover more than $5 million in unpaid wages and to establish important legal precedents and policies.

Janet Mock, New York Times bestselling author; commentator; activist and advocate, will receive the Marie C. Wilson Emerging Leader Award. Mock is best known for publicly coming out as a trans woman in 2011 in Marie Claire.  In 2012, Janet launched #GirlsLikeUs, a social movement that empowers trans women and celebrates the diversity of womanhood. In 2014, she released her memoir “Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More.” Currently, Mock hosts the weekly culture show “So POPular!” on MSNBC’s Shift network and serves as a contributing editor for Marie Claire.

Suzanne Lerner is cofounder and president of the fashion company Michael Stars. In addition to decades of business experience, Lerner is a leading philanthropist supporting numerous causes personally, as well as through the Michael Stars Foundation.  The foundation supports a variety of charities, including the Joyful Heart Foundation, the Ms. Foundation for Women and We Advance, a nonprofit cofounded by actor Maria Bello. Lerner serves on the board of Women Thrive Worldwide, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Prosperity Catalyst and is an advisory board member of Children Mending Hearts. She is also a member of Women Donors Network and Women Moving Millions. 

Lerner funds a number of nongovernmental organizations that focus on women’s empowerment, economic stability, gender reconciliation and gender-based violence.

Toy maker GoldieBlox will be honored as the Ms. Foundation’s first-ever Corporate Innovation Awardee. GoldieBlox is a toy company founded by mechanical engineer Debbie Sterling. Sterling became obsessed with “disrupting the pink aisle” after seeing the lack of women in engineering and STEM related careers. GoldieBlox creates toys and storybooks aimed at changing the way girls play and giving them confidence to invent and create. By giving girls the tools to build and create, GoldieBlox hopes to "inspire the future generation of female engineers."

Joan Ganz Cooney is the cofounder of the Sesame Workshop (formerly known as the Children's Television Workshop) and originator of the children’s show, Sesame Street. In addition, Cooney helped create other award winning children’s series on network and public television, each offering multicultural casts and educational opportunities around science, mathematics and reading and bringing new experiences to life. Ganz-Cooney served as president and CEO of Sesame Street until 1990. She is currently chair of the Executive Committee of Sesame Workshop's Board of Trustees. 

In November 2007, she introduced the Joan Ganz-Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop, dedicated to investigating the potential of digital media to help children learn. The center collaborates with educators, media producers, policymakers and investors to put the center’s research into action.

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