U.S. Representatives James Clyburn, Valdez Demings, and Bennie Thompson Among the 2022 Honorees

Town Hall Forum Promotes Economic Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, & Financial Well-Being

WASHINGTON /PRNewswire/ — Three years after its last in-person gathering, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) hosted its 45th Annual Symposium Town Hall & Awards Luncheon today, reconvening in the nation’s capital to celebrate achievement and address the impact of inflation, health disparities, and attempts to limit voting rights.

“Black women have moved the needle in historic ways the last few years,” said BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess. “We have a seat at the table in the White House and on the Supreme Court. These are huge gains; however, record levels of inflation pose serious financial problems for African Americans. Issues associated with health equity – being able to make our own decisions about our bodies, maternal mortality, and disparities in care – continue to plague our communities, and our access to the polls, in some states, is under attack. We’ve shown what we can do when we make our voices heard, and now is the time to be proud and loud.”

More than 800 elected officials, corporate executives, educators, and journalists joined BWA’s leadership, National Collaborating Organizations, and supporters in saluting this year’s honorees. The Honorable James E. Clyburn (D-SC), Majority Whip and the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, was presented with BWA’s Keeper of the Dreams Award. Other honorees included:

  • President’s Award: The Honorable Valdez V. Demings, U.S. Representative for Florida’s 10th Congressional District and a candidate for the U.S. Senate
  • Profiles in Courage Award: The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, U.S. Representative for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District and Chair of the House Committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol
  • Economic and Business Award: Adjoa B. Asamoah, Esi Eggleston Bracey, Orlena Nwokah Blanchard, and Kelli Richardson Lawson, creators of the CROWN (Creating A Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair) Coalition, and the inspiration behind The Crown Act – legislation that has made hair discrimination illegal in 14 states and 32 municipalities
  • Education Award: Elsie L. Scott, Ph.D., Founding Director, Ronald W. Walters Leadership and Public Policy Center
  • Health Award: Vivian W. Pinn, M.D., Founding Director, (Retired), Office of Research on Women’s Health & Senior Scientist Emerita, National Institutes of Health
  • Lucinda Belin Scholarship Award: Gabrielle Anderson, Entrepreneur and Harvard University Freshman
  • Bright Futures Award: Re’me’sh Adams, Attorney Advisor, U.S. Department of Justice

Earlier in the day, BWA launched the first of a series of town hall forums devoted to economic empowerment and entrepreneurship. Symone Sanders-Townsend, author, political strategist, and host of MSNBC’s weekend talk show “Symone,” moderated the discussion, which featured guest panelists: Gabrielle Anderson, founder of Graffiti By Gabby, a custom art company whose hand-painted sneakers are coveted by athletes, coaches, and celebrities; Natalie Cofield, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and economic activist; CNBC senior finance correspondent Sharon Epperson; Sophia Nelson, an award-winning author, journalist and university scholar/adjunct professor, and Jenell R. Ross, President, Bob Ross Auto Group. During the program, the panelists encouraged more than 300 participants to overcome economic barriers by constructively managing money, embracing effective saving and investing strategies, and exploring opportunities for entrepreneurship. They also provided tips, resources, and information to aid women and their families in making key decisions about money that will enable them to be financially prepared at all stages of life. The session was streamed via the organization’s YouTube channel, making it available to viewers worldwide.

“For those who think The Black Women’s Agenda has been dormant for the past three years, take note,” Catchings Hess told Symposium participants. “There’s a Black woman living in the Vice President’s mansion just a few miles from here and a Black woman sitting on the nation’s highest court. The theme of this year’s Symposium is Unapologetic Joy. We know who we are, we know what we want, and we are more than prepared to make our voices heard, our presence felt, and to press for policies and opportunities that empower our families and communities to live their best lives.”

Founded in 1977 in Washington, DC, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. is a nonprofit 501(C)3 organization that generates awareness and support for issues that secure, protect and advance the rights of Black women and their families. BWA is comprised of 24 collaborating organizations – sororities, civic, service, and faith-based – representing millions of women worldwide. For additional information, please visit

SOURCE The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc.