Member Spotlight

  • 10 Nov 2021 3:57 PM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    Djenabou Bah was born and raised in Ivory Coast but her parents come from Guinea, Conakry, both counties in west Africa. She is a native French speaker and loves outdoor activities and adventures that do not involve heights! She likes tourism because it gives her the possibility to travel around the world to learn more about other cultures, meet new people and taste homemade food which allows her to try new recipes. She loves cooking!

    Djenabou also likes spending her free time volunteering for food pantries, soup kitchens, Food Banks and other organizations that help people like Habitat for Humanity. She is interested in working with non-government organizations that are concerned with social issues especially poverty, unemployment, women's issues and quality education.

    What is the name of your BPW Club?

    I am member of the NFBPWC/NYC Chapter. I live in NY City in Manhattan precisely in Harlem.

    Where do you attend school? What are you studying?

    I have a degree in Tourism Management from "L’Ecole Supérieure du Tourisme et de l’Hôtellerie (ESTH)" in my country Guinea before coming to the US in 2017 to study. I first attended the CUNY Borough of Manhattan community college (BMCC) where I got my associate degree in Liberal Arts. Then I transferred to CUNY City College of New York (CCNY) where I am doing my bachelor's degree in International Studies with a concentration in Development and a minor in Community Change Studies.

    What are your career aspirations? 

    I want to create a non-government organization (NGO) that will focus on development and tackle social issues such as quality education, unemployment, women's issues and developing the tourism sector of my country.

    I want to find a way to engage the national government to invest in its tourism sector, invite shareholders and partners to the country, and facilitate excursions for the country to become a world-class tourist destination both in Africa and in the world. This will not only boost Guinea’s economy, but also create several job opportunities for the populations.

    My current objective is to obtain a position within a non-government or international organization that will fully utilize my skills and offer me an opportunity for continued professional growth.

    I aspire to work with international with UNDP, UNICEF and USAID and also non-profit organizations that have the task of achieving sustainable economic growth and human development. I am doing all my best to make this happen by participating in many programs that have influenced my development by providing me with opportunities to develop my advocacy skill and learn how to identify and access key city, state, and federal government stakeholders.

    School programs such as the CUNY USS (University Student Senate) and the CUNY Malave Leadership Academy program I have lobbied in Albany and Washington DC for CUNY students. I have participated in service projects that address issues important to The City University of New York (CUNY).

    This has helped me develop leadership values and skills through experiential civic engagement, advocacy activities, and leadership competency training.

    I have learned how to be an effective leader both within CUNY and in my community.

    I am also making sure to do as many internships as possible before I finish my studies. Among them is the CUNY Women’s Public Service Internship Program which is coordinated by Edward T. Rogowsky Internship Program in Government & Public Affairs -- which provide students the opportunity to learn by doing in the offices of selected legislators working to benefit women and promote women’s issues in New York.

    As I also want to know how the organizations I want to work with attain their goals. That is why I joined the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (NFBPWC) as an intern as its' mission is to " develop the professional, business, and leadership potential of women." NFBPWC works to empower women through education, advocacy, mentoring, networking, skill-building, and economic empowerment programs and projects. This is a perfect organization to work with as I will have the opportunity to learn those things while interning.

    What brought you to this career path?

    I am passionate about anything related to international development. That includes tourism because it can be a tool for developing a country especially if that country has the criteria necessary which Guinea has. Guinea has a varied tourist and cultural potential. Its biological diversity conceals appreciable aesthetic values, diverse and varied natural beauties composed of natural parks and aquariums, thermal springs, specific animal species and mountain ranges with numerous rivers, wide coastal beaches with dense forest, the foothills of the Fouta Djallon and the vast plains drained by the Niger river and its tributaries. The country has a seafront of 300 km and a continental shelf of 56,000 km2 among the largest in West Africa extending up to 80 nautical miles from the coast.

    Unfortunately, this is not known to the rest of the world. So, I want to be able to participate in developing this sector in my country. Access to quality education, lack of job opportunities and women's issues is something my country is struggling with. So, I feel obligated to help find solutions to those problems.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    1. One of the things I learned and am still trying to apply is that: if you do not show your work and achievements or talk about them, you will not be seen or recognized. From where I come from, that would have been considered bragging about yourself. But here making sure that everyone knows the good work you are doing or did is putting yourself in front of the podium which can open a lot of doors for you.
    2. Another thing I also learned, whatever career you are pursuing, make sure to get enough experiences and skills as it sets you up to the game and gives you more change and opportunities. So, for someone that is still in school, I will suggest doing as many internships as possible, attend workshops and do some training and participate in projects and also learn a second language if possible before entering the job market.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

    There has not been only one person that helped me get to where I am today and I could spend a whole day sharing stories about them.

    • My family, especially my mom and dad have always supported me and made everything possible for me to get an education even though they did not get a chance to have one.
    • My friends from both my country or here have also played a role by supporting and encouraging me as much as they could.
    • Also, faculty and staff from both my schools, the Borough of Manhattan Community College and City College of New York have played a significant role by providing me with learning material and opportunities from both in school and outside school for my professional growth and personal development. 
    • Members from the NFBPWC have also helped by not only mentoring me but also providing me the tools necessary for my future career. I am so grateful and feel blessed to have crossed paths with all these amazing people.


    How did you find BPW? What is one memorable experience you've had with the Club so far?

    I found out about BPW through the City College Edward I. Koch Fellowship in Public Service for Summer 2021. Deborah Cheng, the Director of Fellowships and Public Service Partnerships introduced me to the Club which was in their partner list for the summer internship which I was more than happy to join after learning about what the NFBPWC/NYC does.

    Every day spent with this Club and its members, especially Nermin Ahmad the President of the Club and Voyka Soto the Secretary, who I have been working closely with during my internship is a memorable experience for me. I am so amazed about those women's dedication and passion about what they are doing and also about the knowledge and experience they have.

    Another experience is tied to our Afghan Women Project. Even though our internships have come to an end, my friend Emily VanVleck, another hard-working person who I have come to have a strong relation with and have continued as student members of the Club and have been instrumental in developing the Afghan Women Project. Our President fully supports us, and the National President, Megan Shellman-Rickard has made it a priority project for the national organization. This project aims to assist displaced Afghan women and girls arriving as they adapt to life in the US.

    We aim to make the transition smoother and reduce some of the shell shocks that come with sudden migrating to a new country. We have a multi-dimensional project for assisting these women. This includes

    • a guidebook for ease of adaptation to ‘American life’, 
    • a robust mentoring program, 
    • an advocacy campaign, and 
    • resource gathering. 

    Many of the fleeing refugees could only bring with them what they were wearing. We have found that there is an urgent need to assist them with new goods such as undergarments and gently used clothing, particularly head coverings such as large scarves. Our organization has already started a restrictive clothing drive for these items which are delivered to the women on the military base where they are being processed. Emily and I have also reached out to our school for assistance in this project which was very welcome and supported by dean Andrew Rich and his staff who are doing their best to assist us.

    I can not express enough how happy and grateful to be part of this amazing project. I have always wanted to work on such a big project and now I am part of it, I will do my best for its success. This is an experience I am not going to forget.


    How can the BPW Club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew about you and your pursuits?

    BPW is already equipping me with practical skills, experiences and knowledge which will increase my self-confidence. I joined the Club in the Grant Development and Management position. I was tasked to:

    • Identify suitable grant opportunities for the Club and those to engage in for advocacy
    • Assist with relevant topic research
    • Assist with grant applications and grant writing
    • Coordinate and follow-up with grant partners and participants
    • Generate and analyze reports and make general presentations of information. 

    I did not know much about grants before joining the Club but I have learned so much about it now and am still continuing learning. I know for sure this will set me up for jobs in development and fundraising which all nonprofits have to engage in.

    I am more than happy with this internship as I am not only learning more about non-profits work but also help the Club fulfill its mission to “develop the professional, business and leadership potential of women at all levels, advocate and to strive toward equal participation of women and men in power and decision-making roles.”

    This is also exposing me to a broader professional network where I can get to know people who may be or have been in similar situations as me or have continued to advance in their career and can help me take that next step toward where I want to be. I truly believe that I will fulfill my potential by working with the Club.

    Would you like to share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' business life?

    Before Covid-19, I hated online classes, remote learning or virtual meetings and was always avoiding them. I like human interaction, so, I tend to be bored, lose focus and concentration virtually. However, this has changed in some way since I started taking remote classes due to the pandemic. It was either I took those classes remotely or wait until school started in person which was not clear. I did not want to waste my time, so I tried.

    At the beginning, I really struggled, especially with classes with longer hours. But, education is something I have learned to value since I was young. I know and believe in the importance of earning a college degree through hard work and dedication. I finally got used to it and even found that it has some advantages for me. I was able to:

    • Save money for my monthly MetroCard for transportation, 
    • Cook more often than to buy food outside which I did not even like, 
    • Finish my classes and go to my work without leaving my room since my job also moved remotely,
    • Intern with organizations and companies, attend workshops and other programs which would have required me to travel long distances and in other cities,
    • Learn more about computer skills and be familiar with many computer programs and software. 

    I am happy to have experienced it as I learned a lot and saved money and time. However, as I said, I like interacting with people. So, I can not wait for things to get back to how it was.

    Connect with Djenabou!

     

    Anything else you'd like to share? 

    In regard to the Afghan Women Project, we are looking for immigrants to interview for our guidebook, all names will remain anonymous. 

    • If you want to share your Experience Settling into the American Way of Life: click here for a Google Doc.
    • If you are interested in assisting with this project, please fill out this quick survey.
    • Contribute to our direct fundraising campaign for displaced Afghan women in the United States. We will be purchasing and providing new undergarments (panties, bras, socks) that are modest. DONATE HERE
    • Email the leaders of this Special Committee at AfghanWomen@nfbpwc.org. Let us know how you can support us with these goals in mind.
  • 1 Oct 2021 10:36 AM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    Meet Lisette Torres

    Lisette is a SoCal native. She loves nature especially going on hiking trails by the ocean and being with her rescue German Shepherd, Mia. When she’s not studying for school or the LSAT, she enjoys physical activities which include weight-lifting or figure skating.

    What is the name of your BPW club? 

    BPW Hollywood, California

    Where do you attend school? 

    I'm currently enrolled in California State University, Los Angeles pursuing my Bachelor’s degree in political science with an emphasis in Global Politics.

    What are your career aspirations? 

    My current career aspirations revolve around helping others. I'm actively pursuing higher education to obtain my Juris Doctorate after I receive my Bachelor's Degree. I do wish to partake in law as an attorney for a few years then transitioning to work alongside non-profit organizations such as UNICEF.

    What brought you to this career path?

    As a child, I wanted to choose many different career paths such as a writer, geologist, scientist, teacher, etc. My career goals weren't given by the Oracle of Delphi, but rather something that came to me naturally. I knew I wanted to give a voice to others. I wanted others to know that they can come to me with concerns and we would be able to find solutions.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    An important lesson that I've learned in my career and semi-short life is: manage your expectations on yourself and on others. Often times, people give 110% every day they step outside the door which cause others to place overwhelmingly high expectations on them. We're human - we make mistakes. Don't beat yourself up for it and do not allow others to do the same.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

    My dad has been my best friend since the moment I took a breath of air in this world. My dad has been my angel and my light. There was a stressful time in my final year of community college, and I could not understand the material, my dad took notice and had gone to the market for groceries. When he returned, he placed my favorite flowers on the table and said, "Things take time to grow, don't rush the process."

    How did you find BPW? 

    I was introduced to BPW Hollywood through an established member. A memorable experience with the club has been when I was able to finally meet President of BPW Hollywood Marjory Hopper at a Sunset Valley District Meeting in Burbank!

  • 2 Aug 2021 5:12 PM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    Carmen Vincent -- a member of BPW Virtual, Chesterton, IN

    Carmen Vincent is a passionate freelance editor and documentary filmmaker from Northwest Indiana. She produces and edits all kinds of content including documentary and narrative films, commercial videos, promotional videos, educational content, compilations, fundraising campaign videos, ​social media videos, and more.

    Along with freelance video editing, Carmen directs, produces, shoots, and edits documentary films that tell raw, often misunderstood stories to amplify and validate people’s experiences because she believes we all deserve to feel understood in our own skin. She uses her personal experience with invisible disability to help inform her storytelling.

    Currently, Carmen is in the production phase of a documentary titled “Teacher of Patience,” about a small-town Indiana family’s effort to educate their community, especially first responders, about how to interact with individuals with Down syndrome. You can learn more at www.teacherofpatience.com.

    She holds a bachelor’s degree in Digital Media from Valparaiso University and participates in numerous professional organizations such as FWD-Doc, D-Word, Women in Media, IDA, and others. Carmen is a Nikon Storytellers Scholar, a participant in Adobe's Creator Camp, and a proud recipient of the Best International Director award at the Georgia Documentary Film Festival.

    You can view her work at www.carmenvincent.com.

    Where did you attend school?

    I graduated from Valparaiso University in May 2020 with a B.A. in Digital Media.

    What are your career aspirations? What are you doing today to make them happen?

    My ultimate goal is to own and run a documentary production company and employ fellow artists with disabilities to help me tell stories about individuals and topics that are often misunderstood.

    Right now, I'm focused on learning as much as I can about my craft and my industry, fostering meaningful connections, and making content that I'm proud of so I can lay foundations for that company down the line.

    While I always thought I'd head to Los Angeles right away, I've found great joy in helping cultivate the filmmaking community here in Northwest Indiana. It's definitely a challenge, but I see great value in planting roots here so someday I can help create opportunities for other filmmakers from the Midwest who can't afford to live in New York, Los Angeles, or even Chicago. There are stories in Indiana that need to be told, too! Yes, even in the midst of cornfields. :)

    What brought you to this career path?

    I originally wanted to write for sitcoms, as I'm a lover of comedy (and I secretly harbor a dream to one day be a comedian, but that will probably stay a distant dream). I also wanted to direct narrative films that include underrepresented voices in front of and behind the camera.

    I decided to get a degree in Digital Media so I could learn all aspects of the content creation process and be able to do my own website, design my own graphics and marketing materials, and film and edit my own videos and short films. Essentially, I wanted to learn a little bit of everything so I could be a better director and writer.

    During my freshman year, I earned a spot on a two-week video internship that took place in Bethlehem, Palestine. There, I witnessed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with my own eyes, untouched by media bias, and I was so deeply moved. I had a breakthrough moment where I realized that there were real stories that needed to be told. As soon as I got back to the States, I made my first short documentary about a young man's gender transition story and, since then, I've found my purpose in documentary filmmaking.

    To me, there's nothing more empowering than capturing someone's real story and shaping it to impact an audience. I love every part of it, from filming, to directing, to producing, to editing. I love how flexible it is – you can make a documentary anywhere. I love how collaborative it is – you can craft a crew that has just as much passion for the subject as you do. Finally, I love the impact it can have, on the audience, on the subject, and on me. I can't tell you how much I've changed as a human being because of each film I've made and seeing the look on people's faces when they watch themselves on screen telling their story is priceless. And the process never ends when the film is "done," there are impact campaigns, screenings, discussions, and more for years later. I really appreciate that opportunity to immortalize a story by enriching our communities with it.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    I learned that it's NORMAL to feel imposter syndrome. Like, completely normal. And people decades into their careers feel it, too. Like, what??? This blew me away and, the more I asked people about it, the more I was met with mutual feelings and experiences of questioning oneself and one’s own abilities. It's kind of amazing that most of us feel this way at one point or another.

    For someone with OCD, it's hard to accept that I can't be perfect all the time (or ever, for that matter). However, knowing that we all feel like an imposter at some point in our lives has taught me to acknowledge those feelings as valid, but not let them overpower the ambition I have.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today? 

    So. Many. People! It's hard to name just one, but this seems like an appropriate time to highlight a particular BPW member who has impacted my career. Ashley Maria originally inspired me with her film, Pioneers in Skirts. Pioneers in Skirts inspired me to stop questioning myself and finally believe in my abilities, my work ethic, and my dreams. Since then, Ashley has served as a mentor for me, providing me with opportunities to sharpen my craft, introducing me to a valuable network, and encouraging me to just do it!

    How did you find BPW? What is one memorable experience you've had with the club so far?

    I found BPW through the wonderful Ashley Maria! She was kind enough to bring me to help out with the BPW NGO CSW65 Pioneers in Skirts event for the United Nations. There, I got to meet BPW trailblazers who graciously invited me into the BPW community! That United Nations event was definitely a memorable experience. It was so cool seeing people engage with the film and collaborate to create real change in our communities.

    How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew?

    I'm so grateful for the BPW club network and all the resources it offers. I'm currently working on a documentary called “Teacher of Patience” about a small-town Indiana family's effort to educate first responders and the wider community about Down syndrome and disability at large. While I am 95% done with production and heading into post-production, I am still raising money to make it all happen.

    I'm looking to foster some mutually beneficial sponsorship relationships among businesses, foundations, and organizations. Sponsors would help us finish the film and execute the impact campaign and, in return, we would offer meaningful exposure and other perks. It would be an honor to include BPW club businesses, foundations, and organizations in that pursuit. Please reach out to me if you'd like to get involved!

    Learn more about the film and view a six-minute sample: www.teacherofpatience.com

    Reach out: carmenvincentfilms@gmail.com

    Would you like to share contact information?

    View my work and collaborate with me: www.carmenvincent.com, Check out my latest documentary-in-progress: www.teacherofpatience.com!

  • 8 Jul 2021 1:41 PM | Suzette Cotto (Administrator)

    My "dream world" can exist. It must. I want to live in a world where being a woman doesn’t create threats and where I don’t have to prove I have the same rights as my male peers. Interning at NFBPWC has helped me discover the ways in which the world I dream of is possible and the dedicated women of NFBPWC are working to make it happen. I’m right in the middle of it, working with the leadership team of the organization advocating for women. I hope to use my voice in the issues surrounding violence against women and the Equal Rights Amendment.

    Women in this country face violence every day.

    One out of every five women in the US will be raped in their lifetime (NCADV), one out of every three women have faced some form of physical violence from their partners (this includes slapping, shoving, etc.) (NCADV), and every year 2,000 women are killed by men (Davidson, 2021). I don’t share those statistics to scare you, I share them to illustrate the threat of violence that women face every day.

    The oppression that violence against women creates is felt by many women in our country. I felt it when my mom bought me pepper spray before starting college. I feel it when I get worried about my roommates when they’ve been gone on a date for too long. We all shared our locations with each other on our phones just in case something happens. I feel it when I notice that someone has been following me around the store for a little longer than could be considered a coincidence. This discomfort is heightened when news stories about women being targeted for assault and crime are shared. It is felt by every woman when another “here are the latest tactics that are being used to harm women” post makes rounds on the internet.

    None of this is to say I live my life in fear, just in a heightened state of awareness my male peers don’t. All women know the consequences of being a woman, especially those in violent relationships. We can never be too careful because it seems like every day there is another tragic story about a woman who was beaten or killed by their partner. This kind of violence, both the threat and acts of violence, is something that I want to see changed. I want to live in a world where my womanhood doesn’t put a target on my back. 

    In addition to wanting to be free from the threat of violence, I want to live in a world where the ERA is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Because there is currently no Constitutional backing for the rights that women currently have, a lot of our rights could be overturned with a simple majority vote in Congress or judges that rule against precedent (Equal Rights Amendment). The ongoing efforts to ban abortion show how fragile our rights really are. I shouldn’t have to prove that I have the same rights as men.

    Having a Constitutional amendment affirming that men and women are equal is long overdue and would help continue our fight for equality by providing an unquestionable legal backing to our efforts. I want the ERA to be ratified so that there are legal protections for every woman. Until every woman in this country is equal with men and has legal protections there is still work to do.

    Interning at NFBPWC is helping me make the world I dream of a reality.

    I'm  learning the ins and outs of running a non-profit that advocates for women through my work with the executive committee. I’m developing my voice in ways that I never knew were possible. The connections that I am building and the skills I am gaining will allow me to become an even better advocate for women’s rights and empower the women around me to the best of my ability. My BPW internship is helping me make my dream world with equal rights for women and freedom from violence a reality.

    About the Author: Bryn Norrie

    Bryn Norrie is a student at the University of Colorado Boulder pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology and a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies. She has been on the Dean’s List at CU Boulder for the past four semesters and has a cumulative GPA of 3.93. She will be graduating in May of 2023. Outside of academics, she is an active member of the CU Swim and Dive Club, the Socioeconomic Justice Society Club. In her free time, she also volunteers at the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center and the CU Restorative Justice Center. She is currently living in Boulder, CO but comes from an Army family so home changes most summers. Being outside and with her friends are her favorite things to do, most weekends she can be found hiking, skiing, or playing volleyball in her backyard.


    Works Cited

    Davidson, Caroline. “Now Should We Speak Femicide?” Ms. Magazine, 15 June 2021,

    msmagazine.com/2021/06/15/femicide-women-murder-usa-biden-violence-against-women/.

    NCADV. “NCADV: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.” The Nation's Leading Grassroots Voice on Domestic Violence, www.ncadv.org/statistics.

    Equal Rights Amendment. “Why We Need the Equal Rights Amendment.” Equal Rights Amendment, www.equalrightsamendment.org/why.

  • 29 Jun 2021 8:29 AM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    It’s Summer 2021 and I’m interning at the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs with their Advocacy Committee. I’ve been tasked with finding relevant content for NFBPWC social media channels; content that speaks to the membership and to an audience who is versed in the challenges of being a woman. The organization is historic. Founded in 1919, NFBPWC represents women in professional roles. I’m working hard to find my place here.

    I sit in the darkness of my room, with only the glow of my laptop, searching for content, scrolling through an endless column of articles, blogs, and news sites looking for news. I find multitudes of feeds broadcasting the same things around women’s rights, diversity, equity, inclusion, unequal pay, unequal treatment in the workplace, LGBTQ+ women’s struggles, etc.

    The truth is, as both a woman and a minority, I feel like I should have been already well-versed in these topics.

    Through my internship at the NFBPWC, I’ve become more aware of my surroundings and more importantly, how I am represented and perceived in our society as a woman.

    The ideas of unconscious bias and the disproportionate amount of sexual violence that women experience resonates with me most of all. I first heard of unconscious bias in a psychology class in high school. It was only until the last few years that I realized my gender would also be held under the same scrutiny as my race. Some may know this as intersectionality.

    Unconscious gender bias in a professional environment places a “double bind” (or two irreconcilable demands of bias) bias on women.

    Under societal standards, women are expected to be demure, non-confrontational, a follower -- none of which are qualities of a leader. If I conform to these standards, that puts me at a disadvantage when seeking leadership roles. On the other hand, if I break out of these stereotypes and am assertive and confident, I will be deemed too “bossy” to be effective, or too “emotional” to contribute positively as a leader.

    This bias begins to foster in childhood, when boys playing rowdily have the excuse, “boys will be boys,” while girls are supposed to “mature faster than boys,” and thus, are held to a higher standard when their behavior is under judgement. Ironically, I have never heard anyone finish the latter, saying, “girls mature faster than boys, so boys should look to girls as examples of leadership and maturity.”

    Personally, whenever I had a leadership position in high school, regardless of my expertise, in every meeting, game, race, group chat, or general conversation, my male peers would always be approached first to speak. Sometimes, my male teammates were assumed to be the team captain by default.

    These biases are deep-rooted, but they must be addressed, because there is no gender in the way one acts - there’s no “male” confidence and “female” meekness - there are only people, and every person should be viewed an individual.

    In addition to gender bias, the sheer amount of sexual violence on the daily news is enough to make me walk home at night with my keys pointing out of my closed fist for protection. Many mothers tell their daughters to dress modestly, so as to not “ask for it.”

    As a child, my mother would tell me to never walk alone at night, to wear shapeless clothing, and to not trust strange men -- “more often than not, they will try to hurt you,” she said, “and there’s nothing you can do about it.” I’ve learned about rape culture: an environment where social attitudes underplay, and sometimes even encourage, sexual violence.

    The way society struggles to perceive women as both sexual and respected is a dichotomy. Victim blaming stems from our cultural views of female sexuality. “What were you wearing?” is a common question asked to victims of sexual violence once they choose to speak out.

    Our culture’s taboo on women wearing revealing clothing forces them to take partial blame when they are sexually assaulted -- a woman who dares to transgress the boundaries of societal expectations is deserving of violence, it seems. Thus, many, many women who have experienced sexual violence are reluctant to speak out.

    I read an article about a college student who polled her campus to gauge the amount of people who were either a victim of sexual violence, or knew someone who was. Nearly every one said yes -- a shocking 11,500 respondents, at that.

    The issue of sexual violence is more than an issue of sex -- it poses the question of what our society values, how we treat and perceive women and sex, and what we can do to prevent future crimes against women.

    This NFBPWC internship has been providing me with the knowledge and awareness of the world around me, and I hope to use it in both advocating for change and helping women speak up with their stories. As much as representing allows me to tell others’ stories and spark change, I believe that encouraging others to tell their own stories is a thousand times more impactful. I would like to do more than advocate for women who are victims of our societal issues -- I want to be part of the solution by working to prevent these issues from continuously occurring and creating more harm.

    I aspire to push from the back, rather than pulling from the front -- as both an activist, feminist, and an advocate.

    About the Author - Anissa Yip

    Anissa Yip is a student majoring in Political Science at the University of Colorado at Denver. She plans to become a criminal justice lawyer. Anissa is excited to be an intern for the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, as she has been interested in advocacy and activism since elementary school. She wants to continue these efforts throughout her life.

    Currently, she is working on filming and directing an advocacy video on the topic of Immigration and the Immigrant Experience. She is a person from an immigrant household, and is highly passionate about the topics of inclusion and diversity in all aspects of life.

    Outside of advocacy work and school, she enjoys drawing, painting, crocheting, and walking her dog. Her favorite things to draw are animals, and she frequently does commissions for peoples’ pets and other things they love.

    Anissa volunteers at an Adaptive Swim Program in Littleton, where she swims every Saturday with many unique children with disabilities. On campus, she works as a Wellness Associate who stocks and helps students in the Food Pantry. There, she also gives presentations on alcohol remediation and cannabis awareness to educate students on risk management for both.

    She plays ultimate frisbee and was a captain of her team in high school, and hopes to find a similar leadership role in college. Theater and the arts are also some of her passions -- one of her goals is to attend a Broadway musical someday.

    Anissa has a cumulative GPA of 3.762 and is minoring in Leadership Studies.

  • 3 Apr 2021 12:37 PM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    NFBPWC Young BPW turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their profession. Featured members exemplify the mission of the BPW of uniting and advocating for women everywhere.

    Meet Lusine Aleksanian!

    Located in Hollywood, California, Lusine is a member of the BPW Hollywood Chapter. Lusine is currently applying to medical school in pursuit of a career in medicine while working at an integrative mental health outpatient center. She also loves to journal and sketch in her spare time, and she advocates for ending animal cruelty and saving the environment.

    Tell us about yourself!

    Born and raised in Los Angeles, I come from a family of two ethnic backgrounds; my father is from Armenia and my mother is from Guatemala. I am the middle child of 3 siblings and have 2 beautiful dogs. I have been working at an integrative mental health outpatient center, as a Neurofeedback Technician and have currently been part of the team for 3 years. My commitment to the team is fueled by the passionate individuals I work with who collectively prioritize trust, care and compassion. I love to journal and sketch during my spare time. I am also an advocate for ending animal cruelty and saving the environment.

    Where did you attend school?

    I attended an Armenian Christian school for my primary and secondary school years, during which I grew a deep connection with my Armenian heritage. I furthered my education and earned my bachelors degree in Psychology from UC, Irvine. With each psychology course, my interest in the relationship between one’s body, brain, and mind immensely grew, therefore I decided to pursue a career in medicine. I am currently applying to medical school to pursue a medical degree.

    What are your career aspirations?

    My goal is to pursue a career in neuropsychiatry by practicing the disciplines of psychiatry and neurology. On a larger scale, I'd like to be an effective health advocate by integrating social factors of health into patient care. I strive to educate, empower, and provide individuals a mechanism for coming out of a state of despair and dependency.

    What brought you to this career path?

    The unpredictability of my ethnic background coincides with unpredictability of my choice to pursue a career as a medical doctor. I am a non-traditional prospective medical student, and this basically means that I did not always want to be a medical doctor. Actually, when I was 10, I really wanted to be a biologist. However, my experiences and a specific neuroscience course I took as an undergraduate was truly why I have a strong passion to study medicine. So far, my education has provided me with the fundamentals of psychology and I've learned the importance of the body & brain relationship. However, this same experience has motivated me to further my education and expand my knowledge in understanding the scientific roots of the human brain. I believe choosing a career path in the field of medicine allows an individual to use the most complex organ in the universe, our brain, to its fullest potential with the benefit of significantly improving the quality of human life.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    By nature, I always aim to increase my knowledge and skills through opportunities. The clinical experience I've gained so far has helped me acquire valuable life skills and lessons. I've learned that with grit, humility & trust you can succeed in all aspects of your personal and professional life. I still have more to learn as I embark on my journey to medical school, but the skills that I've acquired so far has helped me achieve and move closer to my own goals every day.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today?

    Both of my parents gave me the opportunity and freedom to choose my own career path. For this I am very blessed and grateful. I specifically remember a moment during my undergraduate years when I felt lost because students around me already chose their career path while I was still undecided. I spoke with my father about my thoughts and concerns with precious time being waste and being unsure of my future career choices. His response to me was - "It is never a waste of time, when you are deciding on what you want to do for the rest of your life." It was then when I realized that my goal was not to choose a career, but instead my goal was to become a medical doctor, and this meant no amount of time I put into achieving this goal should be considered a waste. These words were very comforting and continue to motivate me to pursue my passion.

    How did you find BPW?

    I first discovered BPW from an established BPW member. From the moment I joined this organization, I have met the most inspiring group of women that have empowered me in all aspects of my life both professional and personal. They've really expanded my knowledge in understanding the mission to achieve equity for all women in the workforce through advocacy, education, and information. There have been several memorable experiences however if I had to choose, it would be celebrating Hollywood BPW's 100th anniversary via zoom. It was an honor to gather with fellow BPW members via zoom and spend an evening recognizing the achievements and accomplishments of past and current members throughout the years. I find it especially rewarding to hear the one-of-a-kind stories in each member’s life, because each person’s unique qualities intrigue me.

    How can the BPW club and its members help you on your career path? What do you wish we knew?

    To continue to empower one another and to always remember that TOGETHER we can achieve more.

    Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

    During the pandemic I joined LA COVID-19 Volunteers at UCLA assisting in Personal Protective Equipment assembly and constructing Face Shields for doctors all across the country during time of shortage.

         

    You can connect with Lusine on

  • 1 Feb 2021 7:49 AM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    NFBPWC Young BPW turns the spotlight on members who are making an impact in their profession. Featured members exemplify the mission of the BPW of uniting and advocating for women everywhere.

    Meet Keri Hess!

    A member of BPW/Downtown Sacramento and BPW/California, Keri grew up in Massachusetts, 26.2 mi from Boston, the start of the Boston Marathon! She moved back to California when she was 17, went to Sacramento State University and received a B.S. in Health Science, minoring in Biology.

    Keri’s first job after undergrad was with a county health department where she worked on tobacco and smoke-free policies for local jurisdictions and on motor vehicle and car seat safety. She became certified as a Child Passenger Safety Technician and went on to start the first Car Seat Recycling Program in Northern California (yes, car seats expire!).

    This program is still operating today even after Keri left the county upon receiving her Master's in Public Health from University of New England and moving on. At present, she works for a non-profit, Health Education Council, where they seek to cultivate health and wellbeing in underserved communities.

    Keri continues to work on tobacco and smoke-free policy at a regional level, serving Latino Communities in 14 counties in Northern California, and she volunteers with her local Safe Kids Coalition to continue to keep kiddos in our community safe in their car seats.

    Where did you attend school?

    Sacramento State University, B.S. Health Sciences, Minor Biology, University of New England, Master's in Public Health

    What are your career aspirations?

    I want to continue to create a healthier environment for communities as a whole.

    What brought you to this career path?

    I started out majoring in Biology when I "found" public health. What I like about public health is that we are trying to improve the community’s health as a whole – instead of working with individuals, we tackle problems that are affecting many.


    Keri Hess at the American Public Health Association (APHA) conference in Denver, CO, presenting her work on forming the first Car Seat Recycling program in Northern California.

    Can you tell us about an important lesson you've learned in your career so far?

    Working on policy is not for the faint of heart. I have been called names, yelled at, and treated differently for being a young woman in this field. I came face to face with a tobacco company representative for the first time early in my career. I couldn't stop thinking about how this man could go home at the end of the day and feel good about the work he did. Some days are hard, but at the end of the day, I know that I'm fighting the good fight.

    Is there a particular person who helped get you to where you are today?

    I was a collegiate athlete for a short period of time before getting injured beyond repair. We had a counselor that would recommend classes for us that were taught by professors that were lenient on athletes. I did not like the choices of classes that were recommended to me, so I picked out a class that sounded interesting based on the description It was a biology class on diseases and plagues. The textbook was a short paperback-novel sized book called "Man and Microbes." I read it cover to cover and never missed a class. This professor held my interest and ultimately started shifting my thinking towards public health.

    How did you find BPW?

    The director of my organization recommended that I join. Being recommended as Health Chair has been the most memorable moment thus far.

    Would you like to share how you have evolved since Covid-19 disrupted 'normal' business life?

    It was an adjustment to reach the general community at first. I do enjoy working from home, and since I don't have a printer, I've cut back on the paper I use, so it's better for the environment, too!

  • 30 Mar 2020 3:35 PM | Lea-Ann Berst (Administrator)

    While screening Pioneers in Skirts at a recent international BPW conference, I was excited to hear the message of “it’s time for us ALL to take action!” The story shows the inequities and setbacks women have experienced in the workplace, even after decades of advocacy, still perpetuate today.

    It certainly is time to take action...for ALL of us to work towards an equitable culture.

    The National Federation of Business and Professional Women Clubs has been advocating for women for 100 years, starting with an ambitious goal of achieving equality for women in the workplace.  Over the years we’ve fought and won many battles, but after a century of lobbying for policy changes within governments and companies, and developing the leadership potential of women – the numbers of women in leadership positions are still dismal.

    Although they hold almost 52 percent of all management and professional-level jobs, American women lag substantially behind men in terms of their representation in upper-management positions. Less than 30% are executives, and, of the companies that make up the 2019 Fortune 500 list, 33 have female CEOs. And, American women’s representation in politics is just as paltry!

    The filmmakers also dig into what can happen when ambitious girls experience #bias as they grow up, how negative consequences of that bias can be prevented, and, how it’s never too late for a girl to find her ambition again.

    Pioneers in Skirts is a film that makes you think and feel like you must, as an individual, take action. Reaching across aisles and instigating conversation, this film is a truly enjoyable documentary that, in my opinion, will change minds and move hearts. 

    Sandra Thompson, President

    National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs, Inc.




  


MEMBER SPOTLIGHT SUBMISSION FORM

The NFBPWC Member Spotlight program highlights individual members, their experiences, and how they have benefited from NFBPWC membership.

Click here to complete the National Member Spotlight Submission Form.



Our community guidelines must be followed by anyone who uses or comments on our blogs.

Read the guidelines »



The NFBPWC Blog has profiles of our members, the news that we're so very proud to share with you, and information that can help you advance your career, improve your life, and positively impact this organization.  

NFBPWC is a national organization with membership across the United States acting locally, nationally and globally. NFBPWC is not affiliated with BPW/USA Foundation.

© 2021-2022 NFBPWC. All rights reserved.


Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software