I am deeply honored, at this pivotal moment in history, to be joining the inspirational team of change-makers at Texas Women’s Foundation. I consider it a sincere privilege to take on the mantle of leader of this extraordinary organization, and to continue the critically important work of my incredible predecessor who did so much to lay the groundwork for change.
There is a legacy of service in my family, and I walk proudly in the path created by the strong women in my life who blazed a trail beginning with my mom and going all the way back to my great, great grandmother, Maria Buckner Stokes, who graduated from Hampton Institute in 1890. Her daughter, my great-grandmother, Julia Bertha Stokes, graduated in 1918, and my parents, Suzanne Wilson and Thurmond Woodard, graduated in 1970. When I walked across that stage, I became the fourth generation to graduate from Hampton University. Additionally, my grandfather Lieutenant Colonel Theodore Wilson was a Tuskegee Airman. I have a lot of his memorabilia, including his wings, notes, and flight manuals, which serve as a constant reminder of the courage that it takes to pursue the unimaginable. Service, education, and fighting for opportunity are literally in my DNA.
My cumulative experiences over the past 25 years, and throughout my entire life, have converged to prepare me to meet this moment with fortitude. My childhood included frequent moves. I spent a lot of time abroad which instilled in me an appreciation for the beauty of diversity and fueled my passion for creating communities that celebrate difference as a unifying force, which results in uplifting all members. Similarly, my career has been focused on advocating for issues ranging from domestic violence and sexual assault to childhood hunger and foster care reform. This has only furthered my desire to make a real, sustained difference for women and children – and why the mission of Texas Women’s Foundation is so near and dear to my heart. Joining an organization that was founded in 1985 by 19 amazing founders from all walks of life who band together to create a necessary movement that has grown to be a powerful force for change speaks to the legacy that I so deeply cherish. I am in a community with a strong Board and volunteers who share the same vision – to invest in strong women so we can build a strong world.
Working to improve circumstances around issues and people that you care very deeply about can be challenging. In times of significant adversity such as recent years have presented, though, we must not grow weary from the journey, but rather, remind ourselves that now is the time to dig in and delve deeper into the conversations at the intersection of race, gender and intrinsic value in society. Now is the time to stay the course – and we will do so together. Together, let’s continue to elevate and amplify the opportunities available for the women and children of the great state of Texas. Together, we will find ways to authentically engage across the lines of difference and prioritize sustainable strategies that unlock progress on racial and gender equality. Together, we will work to reform our social, educational, political and economic structures to create a more equitable and inclusive society for all. Together, we will stay the course and set the world on fire.
Join us on this journey: www.txwf.org