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Joy Reid and our panelists Joanne N. Smith, Monique Morris, Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and the Honorable Vanita Gupta.

My colleagues at NWLC are a pretty industrious bunch. I’ve seen them drain a pot of coffee in short order, which makes sense—working to deconstruct the barriers that face women and girls requires energy. But at the annual NWLC Awards Dinner on October 26, we all took a moment to honor those who keep this movement moving.

The five honorees in this year’s program were The Hon. Vanita Gupta, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General and head of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division; Marley Dias of #1000BlackGirlBooks; Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health; Monique Morris, co-founder of the National Black Women’s Justice Institute; and Joanne Smith, Founder and Executive Director of Girls for Gender Equity.

We were also fortunate to have Stacey Friedman, General Counsel for JPMorgan Chase, as Dinner Chair this year, and she gave the event a strong start, citing the need to “build movements to create change for good no matter what.” Co-President Marcia Greenberger then paid tribute to the late Ann Kolker, whose decades-long relationship with NWLC helped make us the organization we are today.

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Joy Reid interviewing Marley Dias

The legendary Anita Hill introduced 11-year-old prodigy Marley Dias of #1000BlackGirlBooks, who brought down the house during her conversation with our moderator for the evening, MSNBC’s Joy Reid. Afterward, NWLC’s Engagement and Mobilization Associate Nia Evans interviewed Marley for our Facebook Live audience. Warning: Only check this out if you’re looking to be impressed.

Following Marley’s interview and a break for dinner, our Co-President, Duffy Campbell, spoke about NWLC’s victories during the last year and the challenges we’re still facing (like the fact that Congress has appointed an empty chair to the Supreme Court).

Senior Vice President for Program Fatima Goss Graves introduced Vanita, Jessica, Monique, and Joanne, who sat down with Joy Reid to discuss their advocacy work for women and girls of color. Following the panel discussion, Stacey Friedman announced that JPMorgan Chase would be awarding $25,000 grants to the nonprofits run by Marley, Jessica, Monique, and Joanne.

IMG_20161026_213255The honorees and guests on Wednesday served as a reminder of the community that grows from this work. It’s a powerful community, bolstered by the diverse perspectives of its members, who vary in race, gender identity, sexual orientation, and age. It’s a community that gets things done.

Across the country, advocates—our five honorees among them—show up each day with a mission in mind, and the lives of women and girls are forever changed by the work they do in pursuit of it. They deserve to be recognized for their vital contributions to our community of fighters.

It was a privilege to share a room with them on last week. And in true NWLC fashion, the night’s meal ended like all our days begin: with coffee.

You can watch this year’s program here.

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