Thursday, September 29, 2016, thirty (30) African American Women Leaders from the Chester County community were invited to a gathering with Michelle Legaspi Sanchez, Executive Director, Chester County Fund for Women and Girls, for a presentation and conversation regarding the 2016 Blueprint: Leveraging Progress produced by the Chester County Fund for Women and Girls. The purpose of this presentation was to introduce to some and review with others the data reported in the Blueprint as it related to African American women and girls in Chester County. The goal was to provide a platform for the leaders to share insights, current works and possible ways to improve the well-being of African American women and girls in Chester County in the seven core areas reported in the Blueprint.
Over the course of the last 17 months, there have been a series of lively, passionate, follow up discussions. The issues that were addressed were diverse and complex, therefore most of the resolutions would not be simple nor would it be a ‘one size fits all’. The group recognized that their collective insight, knowledge, expertise and talents may enable a unique opportunity to add value, voice, and validity to African American challenges as well as to highlight their inherent resilience. The group decided to move from conversation to action.
As a result, the Black Women of Chester County in Action (BWCCA) was formed. It is the hope of this group to promote and support the resources that effectively meet the needs of the Chester County Black women and girls; advocate and challenge those social, environmental and institutional systems that do harm; and creatively work with the community to develop ways to fill gaps to meet their needs in a holistic, culturally sensitive, strength-based way. It was also decided to change the words African American to Black to be inclusive of all women of color in the African Diaspora.
BWCCA vetted the seven areas in the Blueprint Report to prioritize the areas to address within the group’s first 2-3 years. It was a difficult process because all the areas greatly impacting Black females and were found to be interrelated. However, it was discerned that the areas of Education, Economics and Health were capstones for change. It was also determined that greater efforts were needed to get more black female leaders to the table of power, influence and decisions that impact change in areas that are detrimental to Black women and girls in Chester County. BWCCA has committed to offer itself as a resource to institutions, communities and interested stakeholders addressing the areas of disparities, injustices and needs of Black women and girls. The group’s first endeavor will be to develop a professional Black Female mentorship/networking vehicle to increase Black female participation at all levels and areas of engagement in Greater Chester County.
The BWCCA has formed a steering committee of 14 members that meet on a regular basis to provide oversight and guidance for any initiatives/ activities/programming sponsored by the group. There will be 2-3 meetings annually of the general membership. Membership is open to all interested Black female leaders, those who aspire to be leaders; and those of influence in the Greater Chester County Area.
The BWCCA is still in the early stages of development. Every person involved with this group is a committed volunteer with many other responsibilities in addition to their full-time career and family. Yet, they continue to work hard to bring the vision and mission of BWCCA to fruition.