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Since 1989, the YWCA South Hampton Roads has recognized and celebrated the achievements of outstanding women in South Hampton Roads through the annual Women of Distinction Awards Luncheon. Now in its 31st year, this prestigious award has been bestowed upon more than 300 women. We couldn’t be more excited to celebrate this year by honoring women in our community that are the personification of our mission.

We are pleased to introduce our 2019 honorees!

Arts, Culture & Design

Founder of the G.R.O.W. Foundation, Neisha Himes is known to the poetry community as 'Beautiful Dizaster'. Neisha uses her gift of spoken word to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence by sharing her own story as a survivor.

Business & the Professions

As executive vice president at The Curtis Group, Wendy regularly guides nonprofits in diversification efforts for boards to raise millions of dollars in support of minority scholarships and disadvantaged neighborhoods.

Community Champion

Darleen retired as Senior Vice President/Chief Operation Officer for Sentara Health Plans. A dedicated community leader and philanthropist, Darleen has been a champion for access to quality healthcare and community service since 1973.

Education, Training, & Development

Vickie is the Founder and Executive Director of Excellence Girls Club, Inc., an organization that helps girls capitalize on their academic and leadership potential while promoting advocacy and social justice.

Entrepreneurship & Innovation

Lisa Howard is the president & CEO of E3: Elevate Early Education and The New E3 School. She has advocated and secured over $40 million in public-private investments for children to have access to high-quality early education.

Health & Wellness

Charlene, a Breastfeeding Consultant & Peer Counselor at Virginia Beach Department of Health is an advocate for breast cancer research, she volunteers and strongly promotes access to breast health resources regardless of race or socioeconomic status.

Military

Retired from the U.S. Navy, Jennifer served 28 years of honorable service as a Naval Officer, she was one of the first women to serve as a Nuclear Engineer and the first female executive officer at an intelligence command at Damneck, Virginia.

Research & the Sciences

A champion of social justice, Dr. Sparkman-Key is an Associate Professor at Darden College of Education with over 20 publications focused on educating and training culturally competent practitioners in the field of human services.

Woman on the Rise

Anyssa has been a leader since she was 8 when she formed a program designed to help toddlers learn to read. As a young woman she serves as the Program Manager for ELG, a nonprofit entrepreneurship and mentoring organization.