YWCA of Olympia recently celebrated these amazing women in our community as leaders in eliminating racism and empowering women.
Karama Blackhorn: Karma’s work centralizes around antioppression education to build community and empower leadership through culturally responsive and celebratory spaces. She believes in the power and wisdom of people to lead and help their own communities in the way they know best. Her work is focused on creating access where none existed, or in supporting the growth of confidence in a person who may have been taught to believe they were powerless.
Leslie Cushman: Leslie believes in the truths shared by people of color, by indigenous people and by women. She is convinced that there is still much work to be done in gaining equality for all races. Leslie helped found Thurston Gun Sense, a group dedicated to preventing gun violence through safe storage. Leslie has close ties to the Puyallup Tribe, through work and friendship, and supports the tribe in its work to achieve Justice for Jackie.
Dr. Marie Johantgen: Marie is a woman who has spent her career as a board-certified obstetrician gynecologist and has been in clinical practice for over 20 years taking care of women with compassion and skill. In 2009, she started the local chapter of Dining for Women, an organization which women meet each month, have a potluck dinner together, learn about international health issues that affect girls and women, and raise money to help grassroots secular organizations in developing countries. Throughout her career, she has gone on multiple trips to developing countries to offer gynecologic care to women who would otherwise not have any.
Malika Lamont: Malika is the Opioid Response program manager for CHOICE Regional Health Network. Throughout her career, she has worked with vulnerable populations to increase health and improve social conditions. She has worked for 19 years to address social determinants of health, including substance use disorder, mental health issues, poverty and homelessness. She began as a licensed adolescent counselor and family care coordinator for Pierce County Alliance and Catholic Community Services in Tacoma. She was then recruited by the Washington Initiative for Supported Employment to do planning for people with developmental disabilities as a personal agent and she started her own consulting business to improve education for youth with disabilities.
Merrill Angela Williams: Merrill is a fierce advocate for social justice. She is involved in multiple community organizations including Full Circle United an Black Lives Matter. Merrill survived an abusive relationship, drug addiction and homelessness. She has chosen to share her story of recovery in many spaces in order to give hope to other women in abusive relationships or struggling with addiction. She has worked in a homeless shelter where she supported many people whose lives mirrored her own when she was struggling to get back on her feet.
Learn more about these amazing women at:
YWCA OF OLYMPIA