Sunday, December 15, 2013

I’m feeling very optimistic about the future of Philadelphia NOW!

Nina Ahmad, new President of Philadelphia NOW

I’m feeling more optimistic about NOW and very optimistic about the future of Philadelphia NOW. We have a diverse new leadership team and one of our active members and past president, Caryn Hunt, is the president-elect for Pennsylvania NOW. From our press release:
Nina Ahmad, Ph.D. to lead the Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization for Women

New Slate of Officers Elected to the Philadelphia Chapter of the multi-issue progressive feminist advocacy group

Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Chapter of the National Organization of Women (NOW), a key feminist advocacy group in the region has elected its new slate of Officers for the 2014-2016 term. Nina Ahmad, Ph.D., co-owner and Executive Vice President of Government Affairs of JNA Capital, Inc. has been elected as the President of the Chapter. Dr. Ahmad brings a wealth of experience in engaging diverse audiences through community outreach as the Chair of the Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs of Philadelphia and is involved with a host of other organizations including serving on the Board of Women’s Campaign International, which focuses on women’s equality through building skills that help women become effective agents of change. Dr. Ahmad stated, “As a mother of two daughters I am alarmed at the current regression of women’s rights in our country; hard-fought rights earned with blood, sweat and tears. Our future generations should not have to fight these same battles.” She further stated, “I envision our Chapter being engaged in ensuring the promise of equal opportunity for all women by leveraging our collective assets. To that end, I am committed that our chapter membership will be multigenerational and diverse, and from all walks of life.”

In addition to Dr. Ahmad, the following slate of Officers was voted in for the 2014-2016 term:

Executive Vice President: Natalie Catin, Principal for Grover Cleveland Mastery Charter School is a fierce advocate for enhancing educational opportunities for all children and furthering the feminist agenda.

Vice President for Finance: Kathy Black, Health and Safety Director for AFSCME DC47 is also the Philadelphia Chapter President of the Coalition of Labor Union Women, will continue to fight for women’s rights.

Vice President for Membership: Sharon Hurley, computer specialist with extensive administrative experience is focused on engaging our membership in feminist issue areas and on creating strong member network.

Secretary: Melody Lam, recent graduate of Temple University with a Bachelors of Science in Biology, is eager to leverage her organizational skills and experience in civic engagement/minority empowerment.

Treasurer: Louise Francis, the Consulting Principal and founder of Francis Analytics and Actuarial Data Mining, Inc. is a long time member of the Chapter, who has been engaged in advocating for feminist issues.

Delegate to the State Board: Karen Bojar, Professor Emerita of English and Women’s Studies at the Community College of Philadelphia, is a longtime feminist activist, past President (2001-2009) of Phila-NOW and looks to strengthen the relationship between Philadelphia NOW and Pennsylvania NOW.

Delegate to the State Board: Sharon Hurley (see above) will liaise with Pennsylvania NOW.

Delegate to the State Board: Sharon Williams Losier, practicing attorney and owner of Losier & Associates, is a civil rights activist engaged in furthering the feminist agenda and will liaise with Pennsylvania NOW .

NOW on all levels –national, state, and local-- has struggled to build a diverse organization and our success or failure will determine whether or not the organization will continue to thrive. The founding generation, now over 65, is part of a demographic cohort which is largely white; feminists under 25 are part of a demographic cohort which is far more racially/ethnically diverse. If NOW is to look like America, it must figure out how to reach this younger, far more diverse group. NOW’s continued existence depends on it.

Nina Ahmad is the first woman of color to head Phila NOW. Given the diversity of the city, it’s surprising it took so long. Nina is not the first woman of color to be a NOW chapter president in Philadelphia. In 1980 Jocelyn Morris founded and served as president of Germantown NOW which was founded to combat both racism and sexism and to build support for the passage of the ERA among women of color.

Despite her incredibly hard work, the chapter was short-lived and folded soon after Morris moved out of Philadelphia. The history of Germantown NOW is documented in chapter 6 of Feminism in Philadelphia: The Glory Years, 1968-1982. Morris was ahead of her time and as Chair of NOW’s combating racism committee she is continuing the work she began in 1980.

NOW’s national leaders are well aware of the need to reach the diverse millennial generation, but change at the grassroots level has been slow. Philadelphia NOW is making a real contribution here and the fact that a woman as talented as Nina has decided to devote her time and energy to NOW certainly gives me hope that NOW will survive and thrive.

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