Women’s History Month Event

PartyDuring Women’s History Month on the evening of the 20th of March, the community gathered at TAROCCO, a Barcelona inspired cafe in Berkeley, to celebrate and honor trailblazing women, such as Emeryville Mayor Courtney Welch. This event was sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville (LWVBAE) and the Urban League of the San Francisco Bay Area (ULBA), a nonprofit organization helping and uplifting African-Americans and other marginalized peoples.

“It was so lovely to have two long-standing organizations come together in a united front as this is such an important election year,” LWVBAE Board Director Rashida Hanif, who fostered the collaboration, said. “It’s up to us all to carry the baton and run with it to protect our democracy.”

Nick Pilch, Chair of the LWVBAE Nominating Committee and former Albany Mayor echoed Hanif’s sentiment, saying, “It was a wonderful idea to partner with the Urban League to celebrate local women leaders during Women’s History Month and Black efforts and contributions in the Bay Area.”

The partnership with another nonpartisan civil rights organization brought together a wide range of people and was highly enjoyable. The celebration itself was very diverse along many dimensions: it was intergenerational, included many different racial representations, gender diverse, and included people from different professional backgrounds.

Rashida Hanif&Courtney Welch

Rashida Hanif interviewing Courtney Welch

“My favorite part of the night and the event planning was partnering up with the Urban League because we were able to unite a diverse group of people from the community,” said Yunen Nava, LWVBAE Membership Experience Coordinator for the collaboration.

The night itself was very lively and elegant with a nice ambience,  filled with good conversation. For appetizers there was a delightful array of cheeses, prosciutto, and seasonal fruit which could be paired with a nice white wine or a hibiscus spritz. For supper, there was yummy non-vegetarian pizza as well as vegetarian pizza for the guests to enjoy.

Courtney & Rashida

Courtney & Rashida

After dinner and mingling, the evening included several nods to women leaders who were in attendance. Mayor Welch, who was presented with the Trailblazing Women Award, spoke about her story and the importance of community involvement, inspiring attendees. She is the first Black woman Mayor of Emeryville. After she started as a council member, without having prior elective experience, she quickly showed her passion for advocacy. Her policy positions on housing have made her the popular elected she is today, helping many by creating a more affordable housing market in Emeryville. She explained that she understands how policy affects people’s every day, real lives. Emeryville is one of the few local cities building market rate and affordable housing in such a way that they’ve seen an increase, not a decrease in their Black population.


Rashida & Alex

Another pioneering woman who was honored that night by LWVBAE Board Member Rashida Hanif was Alex Li. For her work as the youngest person to ever serve as a Board Member and Voter Service Director of LWVBAE, Li was granted the Trailblazing Women Honoree Award. Li has done so much for LWVBAE; she is also currently the youth leader of the Albany Vote 16 Campaign as well as a co-founder of the Albany Youth Council, whose work engaging students has been worthy of recognition.

Overall, the event was considered by many to be a great success. “It was such a nice moment to see these two pro-democracy titans coming together to honor women in leadership across the generations,” said LWVBAE President Kandea Mosley Gandhi, who was able to drop by after the League’s Berkeley City Council District 7 Candidate Forum. She was also acknowledged that night for being LWVBAE’s first Black woman president. “Thanks to Rashida and ULBA, hopefully this is just the beginning of collaborations to come to bolster participation in our democracy and address issues we care so much about.”

Austin Drake, Director of Outreach, Programs, & Organizational Development at ULBA later said, “This was an absolutely amazing event everyone. Thank you Courtney for coming and being a part of this!”

–Yuval Magidash

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