You Empower What’s Possible! Empower Possible 2023
Last week 300 guests joined us at Quincy Hall in Minneapolis for our second annual fundraising event, Empower Possible, to support our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women and to celebrate another year of our work together to advance racial justice, early childhood education, girls and youth development and health and wellness.
The Work of Eliminating Racism
Our sixth annual Woman of Power Award was presented to Elder Atum Azzahir, who accepted the award on behalf of her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents, the ancestors who came before her.
Elder Atum is executive director and founder of the Cultural Wellness Center, a founder and co-owner of the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis and a recognized authority on cultural approaches to health and well-being. The Cultural Wellness Center is an African American nonprofit centered on the idea that when culture and community knowledge are studied and valued, they are powerful tools for health, healing, community building and economic development. She spoke to the mission of YWCA Minneapolis in connection with the work of the Cultural Wellness Center:
“The work of eliminating racism is operating side by side with these amazing people tonight who have watched and encouraged and inspired me over the years. Tonight we are celebrating the healing and health of those who were assumed not to be humans and those who believed that humanity was in humans’ hands. I give thanks to you all. And I know we’re on our way.” — Elder Atum Azzahir
Being Humble Enough to Say “I Don’t Know”
Our second annual Kate Berman Leadership Award was presented to Pam Stegora Axberg, executive director of Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities. YWCA Minneapolis established the Kate Berman Leadership Award in 2022 to honor our former board chair who passed away unexpectedly in April 2020. During her board service, Kate was a passionate advocate for the mission of YWCA Minneapolis and led multiple initiatives. As she accepted the award, Pam credited her life’s work to “being humble enough to say ‘I don’t know’ — to learn.”
When joining YWCA’s board she asked herself, “‘What do I have to offer to them?’ What I have since come to learn and to understand and to appreciate is what YWCA and its amazing leaders had to offer to me. You taught me about leadership and you taught me about lifting up women.”
“I hope I can honor YWCA and Kate Berman’s legacy by continuing to lead as I have been encouraged by you — and actually expected and demanded by many of you in this room — even when the work is hard. Leadership is not a solo activity. Leadership requires evolving, learning, adapting, occasionally making mistakes and recovering. Thank you for letting me stand on your shoulders.” — Pam Stegora Axberg
She challenged everyone in the room to “find a woman in your life. Offer your shoulders to stand on. That is how we eliminate racism and empower women.”
New Leadership Awards
In addition to our Woman of Power and Kate Berman Leadership Awards, we presented four new leadership awards this year:
- Triathlon Spotlight Award: Nicole Cueno
- Early Childhood Education Teacher of the Year: Luna Ellington
- Volunteer Service Award: Melissa Ratliff
- Youth in Power: Shivani
A hearty thank you to everyone who came to support our YWCA Minneapolis community. We are so grateful!
Watch Elder Atum Azzahir’s Acceptance Speech:
Watch Pam Stegora Axberg’s Acceptance Speech:
Watch Nicole Cueno’s Acceptance Speech:
Watch Luna Ellington’s Acceptance Speech:
Watch Melissa Ratliff’s Acceptance Speech:
Watch Shivani’s Acceptance Speech:
Thank you to our sponsors, table hosts and attendees for your generosity. Together, we empower the possible!