By Godfrey Lee
Marin Grassroots celebrated the increased prominence of women in leadership roles at its first Marin County Women of Color Leadership Summit, commemorating the 101st anniversary of women’s right to vote in California.
The summit was held at the on Oct. 13 at the Four Points Sheraton in San Rafael. Nearly 100 women and a few men attended the conference.
According to Nancy Johnson, board chair of Marin Grassroots, the summit was designed to answer the question: “How do we connect to our power for the greater good?”
Lucinda Katz, head Marin Country Day School, gave the keynote address, sharing how her identity as a Chinese-American woman growing up in San Francisco helped define her role in life.
She described how her life experiences made her feel, “Sometimes powerless, sometimes privileged, sometimes an outsider, sometimes an insider.”
To understand her cultural identity and role in a diverse world, Katz had to answer the questions, “Do you see yourself in the mirror of society? Do you see yourself as you look through the window at others in the larger community, a reflection of yourself?”
Sandra Nathan, vice president for programs at the Marin Community Foundation, spoke on “The Importance of Leadership Development for Women of Color.”
According to Nathan, progressive social change depends upon women of color to become leaders, especially of color-led organizations. They must be involved in all aspects of building and strengthening democracy, as they have historically worked for policies that benefited women and their families, communities and society.
Yet women of color are not always recognized for their leadership and achievements, she said. Although they presently represent the majority in this country, women are not represented enough in key leadership positions.
“We can move individuals and issues on the basis of our personal stories,” said Nathan.
Talented women of color leaders should be available and well prepared to assume leadership position, she said.
“Whether it is about a foundation, a non-profit organization or government,” said Nathan, “it is essential that we have women-of-color voices, so that we can build those trusted relationships and make these organizations as effective as they can be.”