Racial Justice

Honoring Dr. King

To honor the legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., YWCA Greenwich focused its annual event on the tragedy of labor trafficking, including global supply chains and local labor trafficking violations. Thirty-five community partners joined in the effort to raise awareness about this crime in our midst.

Prior to the event, attendees were encouraged to take the Slavery Footprint Challenge which allows users to learn about goods commonly produced with slave labor.

What exactly can consumers do to help stop labor trafficking?

  •  Look for warning signs of abuse, such as appearing fearful, timid or submissive, among others.
  • Call local law enforcement by dialing 911 if you witness or suspect an instance of human trafficking or call the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 1-888-373-7888. Trafficking victims, including undocumented individuals, are eligible for services and immigration assistance.
  • Learn how to become an ethical consumer through websites like Unchain.org or check out the Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor.
  • Volunteer with local community organizations that are working to stop trafficking.

On January 23, 2020, YWCA Greenwich will honor Dr. King’s legacy as we explore "Women's Suffrage and Power at 100".

Advocating for stronger laws

YWCA Greenwich partnered with Grace Farms Foundation and other coalitions to advocate for stronger legislation against human trafficking. Until last year, Connecticut was the only state in the nation that did not require nail salons, estheticians and eyelash technicians to obtain and maintain an operating license.

A new bipartisan law was passed by the General Assembly to require not only licensing, but also standards for inspection of nail salons and training for licensees in these fields. One of the rationales for this legislation was to make it more difficult for these businesses to be fronts for sex or labor trafficking. In addition, the law is intended to protect workers, who are overwhelmingly female, immigrants and often undocumented, from a range of labor law violations and coercive practices by employers.

YWCA Greenwich will continue to advocate against human trafficking.

  • Krishna Patel, Moderator, Former General Counsel and Director of Justice Initiatives, Grace Farms, and Former Federal Prosecutor
  • Luis deBaca, Lawyer and Diplomat who served as United States Ambassador-at-Large to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons and as Director of the Department of Justice's Office of Sex Offender Sentencing, Monitoring, Apprehending, Registering, and Tracking (SMART Office)
  • Divya Demato, CEO and Co-Founder, GoodOps, and an expert in supply chain networks
  • Jillian Gilchrest, Former Chair, Connecticut Trafficking in Persons Council and recently elected CT State Representative, District 18
  • Mary Lee Kiernan, President and CEO, YWCA Greenwich
  • Resa Spaziani, Director, Wage and Workplace Standards, Connecticut Department of Labor

2019 Stand Against Racism

Stand Against Racism is a signature event of YWCAs across the country who are standing together to raise awareness about the negative impact of all forms of racism and build stronger communities among those who work for racial justice.

More than 100 local organizations joined YWCA Greenwich for its 11th annual Stand Against Racism.

In front of a standing-room only crowd, this year’s keynote speaker, Claudia Connors, President and CEO, Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, spoke passionately on behalf of those seeking a better life in our country, including victims of domestic violence who are fleeing their homes for the safety of our borders.

"We have to counter the belief that my race, or my faith or my nationality is better than yours," said Claudia Connors, President and CEO, Connecticut Institute of Refugees and Immigrants.

Reverend Maxwell Grant, Second Congregational Church, Greenwich, provided closing remarks encouraging the YWCA to continue its important work of gathering the community to speak out about racial injustice in all its forms.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants,” said Reverend Max.

"We stand on the shoulders of women who insisted that communities need to have certain kinds of conversations in order to live up to their deepest values.”

Racial Justice Scholarships were presented to two deserving high school seniors, Charles Ciporin and Ludnie René for their demonstrated commitment to encourage people to respect differences, promote equality and eliminate all forms of bigotry, bias and racism in their school and our community.

DIVE Project

In 2019, YWCA Greenwich initiated the DIVE (Diversity, Inclusion, Values and Equity) Project. This project is designed to align our mission with the programs that YWCA Greenwich offers including Childhood Education, Youth Health and Fitness, Aquatics and Adult Programs.

In 2019, YWCA Greenwich began with building capacity in these concepts with its staff and Board. This is an intentional plan to promote equity in the YWCA's ongoing programs, practices and initiatives, with a goal to be a leader in inclusivity as an organization, whether among participants in YWCA programs or how the organization welcomes the community to their building or how they function as a community coalition builder.

Working with a consultant, curricula were developed to implement age appropriate instruction in diversity, equity and inclusion concepts. YWCA Greenwich staff and Board received the training first and some staff received additional training in the facilitation of the curricula. Roll out of the curricula will begin in the 2019-2020 Childhood Education programs and select adult programs.

Building Community Partnerships

YWCA Greenwich continues to partner with local non-profits, town government and clergy to educate the community about racial injustice and bias. In addition to its two signature events, YWCA Greenwich partnered with the following organizations:

  • YWCA Greenwich hosted a special program on May 14, Mainstreaming of Anti-Semitism. The event was co-sponsored by the Connecticut Anti-Defamation League and the UJA-JCC Greenwich.
  • YWCA Greenwich continues to participate in monthly meetings of the First Selectman’s Diversity Advisory Committee and lead the second edition of the Town's Resource Guide for Immigrants.

Claudia Connor, President and CEO, Connecticut Institute for Immigrants and Refugees

Reverend Maxwell Grant, Senior Minister, Second Congregational Church, Greenwich, CT.

Mary Lee Kiernan with 2019 Racial Justice Scholarship Award Honorees Ludnie René and Charles Ciporin