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Meet Vanessa Morrison and Gina Sofola of Black Space Oklahoma, 2018 Adult PowHer Microgrant Project Winner

Meet our Adult PowHer Microgrant project recipients: Vanessa Morrison and Gina Sofola. These two ladies have launched a great initiative called Black Space Oklahoma that addresses four of the Sustainable Development Goals. Those goals include: good health and well-being, industry, innovation,  and infrastructure, reduced inequalities, and sustainable cities and communities.

Historically, communities of color have been left out of spaces of influence when it comes to how communities are physically design and planned for. The consequences due to the lack of diversity in these decision-making spaces have been contributing factors to how poverty, access to resources, inequalities, health disparities, violence, and the overall erasure of culture heavily impacts our most vulnerable communities. At Black Space Oklahoma, they envision communities in which social and spatial change is encouraged, hope is fostered, and the pipeline for Black professionals to the formal fields of city planning, architecture, and design is broadened. Through their founding principles they plan to both strategically and tangibly extend the world of planning, architecture, design, and community organizing work to Black communities in OKC to contribute solution-focused strategies and positive change. Their objectives include:

1. Developing a multidisciplinary support network for Black community professionals and their allies;
2. Creating access to quality education centric to city planning, architecture, and design through mentoring programs, community discussions, and more;
3. Providing tangible and holistic resources to consult, support, and create opportunities for Black voices and informed action to be taken in local OKC neighborhoods, and;
4. Starting a repository for the collective celebration and preservation of the historic, present, and future community/design contributions of Black Oklahomans.

Without more diversity in these decision-making positions that are in control of the design of their communities, local residents will continue to suffer from both the intended and unintended consequences of not having Black voices at the table. They are committed to being an actionable, solution-focused collective to change the design trajectories of Oklahoma communities through creating and celebrating Black Space in Oklahoma.

Meet the women behind the project

Vanessa Morrison

Vanessa Morrison is a Certified Domestic Sexual Violence Response Professional (CDSVRP) and social planner who is dedicated to empowering and supporting communities. After receiving her master’s degree in Regional City Planning from the University of Oklahoma’s College of Architecture, Vanessa’s professional and academic opportunities have allowed her to facilitate and design crisis intervention approaches to address violence in communities, coordinate engagement opportunities for marginalized groups, domestically and internationally consult projects, collaborate on community planning initiatives, and activate both spatial and social environments. She’s experienced in developing and implementing strategies that reach into multi-faceted groups – including victims of interpersonal violence, advocacy initiatives, state and local governments, and religious sectors. Her robust and diverse experience in community engagement and crisis intervention, along with her advocacy and crisis intervention experience, give her unique insights into how the built environment impacts vulnerable, micro-communities.

Gina Sofola

Ms. Sofola is the President and Principal Consultant for Sofola and Associates, Inc., a project management and planning consulting firm started in 1999. She has managed projects around the country and worked as a Project Engineer for Fortune 500 Companies in NYC; with the City of Kansas City Missouri on multiple municipal projects including the rehabilitation of the historic Robert J. Mohart Building, the renovation of Historic Bartle Hall Convention Center and new State of the Art Fire Station 35; City and County of Denver where her company currently provides project management and planning support to Denver International Airport’s Airport Infrastructure Management Group; and she is currently developer’s agent/project manager for the Page Woodson Restoration Project a multi-phase, mixed income, mixed use development that will consist of Affordable and Market Rate Housing along with dynamic public spaces. In addition to Page Woodson she has recently collaborated on the Women of Northeast Oklahoma City which won the 2017 Oklahoma APA Award for Outstanding Public Outreach.

Her training gives her an eye towards how humans interact with the built and work
environments. She is interested in environmental, transportation, and international
planning issues and has a great passion for urban design that seeks to optimize the human experience for under served communities.

Thank you ladies for your dedication to making your community brighter and we look forward to updates about your project to share with our members.

Come and meet Vanessa and Gina at our International Women’s Day Program scheduled for March 10, 2018 from 2-4 p.m. at the Raindrop Turkish House Oklahoma City. You can find tickets here.

 

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Meet Enedina Banks, panelist at our International Women’s Day Event

Enedina Banks Photo

This year’s theme for the Commission on the Status of Women 62 is Empowering Rural Women and Girls. UNA-OKC took this to heart when we chose our panelists and the topics we would be covering. We looked at what issues Oklahoma women and girls, both urban and rural, face in this state. We kept coming back to one unfortunately, often overlooked group: the Indigenous women and girls of Oklahoma. It is important to acknowledge that we are on stolen land and the effects that it has had on Indigenous maternal health and well being. We found just the person to talk about just that.

Meet Enedina Banks. Enedina Banks is a proud member of the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Nation. She was born and raised here in Oklahoma until she was 15 when she moved to Kansas where her Potawatomi roots are. She completed high school at Kickapoo Nation School on the Kickapoo reservation in Kansas. She later attended St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, where she now resides and received an AA in Business Administration. Enedina has been married to Vincil Banks for 12 years and is the proud mother of four children Skupkonkot, Zawzeequa, Wahpunose and Wahweya. Mrs. Banks is working diligently to raise her children in both the modern and the traditional world. Mrs. Banks has presented on the importance of breastfeeding as a very natural and key part of a traditional upbringing. Enedina Banks has been an advocate and activist for Indigenous women’s health issues for over a decade and has spoken on behalf of these causes at numerous conferences such as the National Indian and Native America Coalition WIC Conference. The Huffington Post has published and shared her story further ensuring her hope of empowering women and educating the world about motherhood in her culture. She currently uses her passion for preserving and teaching Native culture in her position as a Language Instructor for the Citizen Potawatomi Nation in Shawnee, Oklahoma. In her role with the CPN Language Department, she particularly enjoys teaching the Potawatomi language to children in the tribal day care.

To hear more about Enedina and her work come and join us at this year’s International Women’s Day Program. Buy tickets here.

 

Meet Leslie Ross, panelist at our International Women’s Day Event

Leslie Ross Photo

This year’s theme for the Commission on the Status of Women 62 is Empowering Rural Women and Girls. UNA-OKC took this to heart when we chose our panelists and the topics we would be covering. We looked at what issues Oklahoma women and girls, both urban and rural, face in this state. Access to mental health care is often a barrier to address underlying trauma that women and girls often face. We found just the person to tell you about their work.

Meet Leslie Ross. Leslie Ross is a daughter, sister, auntee and LPC. Leslie began working in underage drinking prevention which led to her receiving her M.S in Counseling and is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and a LPC supervisor. Leslie’s personal experiences led her to specialize in trauma focused therapy with all ages and is trained in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (used with children 3-21); Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR); CPT: Trauma Focused Narrative Therapy; Motivational Interviewing and other cognitive behavior interventions. She is currently the Project Director of the Assisted Outpatient Treatment program at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services that goes with the Mark Costello Act. Leslie enjoys spending time with her family, her dog Elvis and traveling.

To hear more about Leslie and her work come and join us at this year’s International Women’s Day Program. Buy tickets here.

 

Meet Angela Beatty, panelist at our International Women’s Day event

Angela Beatty Photo

This year’s theme for the Commission on the Status of Women 62 is Empowering Rural Women and Girls. UNA-OKC took this to heart when we chose our panelists and the topics we would be covering. We looked at what issues Oklahoma women and girls, both urban and rural, face in this state. Domestic violence has a high prevalence in Oklahoma. We felt that it was not only necessary, but crucial to include this in our Women’s Day dialogue. Specific data to Oklahoma can be found here.

Meet Angela Beatty. Angela Beatty, BA, CDSVRP, is the Senior Director of Domestic Violence Victim Services at YWCA Oklahoma City. In this capacity, she provides leadership, management and supervision for all of the agency’s domestic violence programs as well as offers direct services in the areas of risk assessment, safety planning, court accompaniment, individual and group support to survivors of domestic violence. Angela received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Tulsa in 2007. She has 9 years of social services experience and has previous professional experience with children in the child welfare system as well as providing case management services to newly identified HIV positive individuals.

In 2014, Angela completed the training to become a Certified Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Professional. The rigorous training program was crafted by the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault to provide advanced crisis intervention, trauma and advocacy expertise to those working with survivors every day. While at YWCA, Angela has served on the agency’s Multicultural Competency Committee and worked on the Board of the Women of Color Caucus to address the specific needs that women of color have while receiving services at the DV/SA programs across the state. She was recently given the opportunity to serve on a special taskforce with the Oklahoma Domestic Violence Fatality Review Board to address how homicide disproportionately affects among Women of Color.

To hear more about domestic violence in the state of Oklahoma and its effects on women and girls, come and join us at this year’s International Women’s Day Program. Buy tickets here.

Join us March 10, 2018 for UNA-OKC’s International Women’s Day Program

UNA-OKC Save the Date for International Women's Day Program 2018

Please join UNA-OKC for our annual International Women’s Day event scheduled for Saturday, March 10, 2018 from 2:00-4:00 p.m. at the Raindrop Turkish House located at: 4444 North Classen Boulevard,Oklahoma City, OK 73118.

We will be hosting a panel discussion regarding The State of Women’s Public Health in Oklahoma. We will be discussing three topics regarding women’s public health from the perspectives of domestic violence and sexual assault, mental health, and Indigenous maternal health and well-being.

Our will panelists include:

Angela Beatty, Senior Director of Domestic Violence Victim Services at YWCA Oklahoma City

Leslie Ross, LPC, Project Director – Pathway to Recovery, Assisted Outpatient Treatment, Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services

Enedina Banks, Language Preservationist, Citizen Potawatomi Nation & Advocate and Activist for Indigenous Women’s Health Issues

Light snacks and refreshments will be served.

Don’t forget to bring your bidding skills! Silent auction items will also be available to bid on.

At our program, we will also be awarding two winners (one woman, one young girl) for UNA-OKC’s PowHer Microgrant. Come and learn about their community service projects and how you can support their efforts.

Tickets for the event are $10.00 and you can find them here. We hope to see you there!

Join us February 1st at Prairie Artisan Ales for our Young Professional Happy Hour with Whitney Anderson

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Whitney Anderson, Executive Director of The Dragonfly Home

Join United Nations Association of OKC as we host Whitney Anderson of The Dragonfly Home at our Young Professional Happy Hour on Thursday, February 1st at 6 PM at Prairie Artisan Ales at 3 NE 8th St.

Whitney Anderson is co-founder and Executive Director of The Dragonfly Home, an organization serving those impacted by human trafficking.

She gained her experience working with survivors of sex and labor trafficking abroad, then participated on Oklahoma’s Human Trafficking Taskforce and assisted in the establishment of a state certified shelter for adult victims of sex trafficking. She has extensive experience providing direct care for survivors of sex and labor trafficking, building partnerships and leveraging strengths in the community to combat human trafficking, and increasing community awareness of the crime. 

Image result for prairie artisan ales okc taproom
Prairie Artisan Ales OKC Taproom

Whitney is a member of the Office for Victims of Crime Consultant Network and has spoken nationally on matters of trafficking in professional, academic, community, and tribal settings to thousands of individuals.

In 2016, Whitney, seeing a major gap in services for survivors of human trafficking in Oklahoma, co-founded The Dragonfly Home. There, she alongside her team, opened Oklahoma’s first state-certified crisis center for victims of human trafficking, The Dragonfly Home Human Trafficking Relief and Restoration Center, which provides specialized, non-residential services to human trafficking victim/survivors.

We’re proud to have Whitney help us kick off our first YP Happy Hour of the year and we can’t wait to see you there!

Lydia Gill-Polley

Join us on Saturday, December 9th, as we honor the memory of Lydia Gill-Polley – along with 12 other winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award. The program will begin at 10am in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. You’re welcome to join us!

Lydia-a

Lydia Gill-Polley (July 18, 1931 – Sept. 24, 2017) was a lifelong advocate of “peace and justice for all.” An adult educator by profession, Polley conducted training events nationwide and in Costa Rica. A renowned speaker and workshop facilitator, she attracted “repeat participants” who proclaimed her sessions as “the most rewarding you’ve ever been a part of.” Polley worked as Oklahoma State Coordinator with Congressman Dennis Kucinich to promote a United States Department of Peace. A fierce anti-death penalty activist, she served as OK-CADP’s chair, co-chair, and secretary and was active with the group until her death.

“As a tireless resister of the death penalty, I knew that she frequently visited and befriended death row inmates, and worked for their clemency, believing that all of us are more than the worst thing we have ever done,” said Robin Meyers, Senior Minister at Mayflower Church, where she attended.

Nominated by Darla Jane Shelden.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html

Michael Barlow

Join us on Saturday, December 9th, as we honor the memory of Michael Barlow – along with 12 other winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award. The program will begin at 10am in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. You’re welcome to join us!

Barlow-a

Michael Barlow (Nov. 2, 1944 – Nov. 28, 2015) was a passionate teacher who often performed workshops and seminars for school administrators. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Educator’s Hall of Fame in 2010. Many knew him as an ardent supporter of the State of Israel, a voice for the Oklahoma City Jewish Community, a negotiator and education consultant, a teacher, union leader, an improv comic, a snow camper, cross country skier, world traveler and the guy with the “Moses beard.”

Wilfredo Santos Rivera nominated Michael Barlow for this award. Rivera remembers Barlow as a “mover and a shaker for labor and for education.”

“We miss him dearly,” he added.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education….
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html

Dr. Mari Fagin

Join us on Saturday, December 9th, as we celebrate Mari Fagin and 12 other winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award. The program will begin at 10am in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. You’re welcome to join us!

Fagin-a

Dr. Mari Fagin‘s life’s work has included positions as a college professor, director of outpatient services of a large mental health center, and a private practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marital and Family Therapist. She is a member of Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City and is committed to the encouragement and support of interfaith relationships and activities. She is a board member of the Interfaith Alliance of Oklahoma and a former chairman of the Oklahoma Human Rights Commission.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html

 

Peter K. Schaffer

Join us on Saturday, December 9th, as we celebrate Pete Schaffer and 12 other winners of the Oklahoma Human Rights Award. The program will begin at 10am in the House Chamber of the Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 N. Lincoln Blvd. You’re welcome to join us!

Schaffer-a

Attorney Peter K. Schaffer opened Kaiser’s Grateful Bean Café on North Walker, in Oklahoma City in 1993 with the intent to hire people down on their luck. The people that he hires are from half-way houses, Dale Rodgers Training Center, the Department of Corrections and court-related or mental-health organizations. The café hires people in need as a “hand-up not a hand-out.” Last Thanksgiving, Schaffer opened his restaurant to homeless people, gave them a typical Thanksgiving Dinner with all the trimmings and had volunteers waiting on each table.

“Pete’s selfless work on behalf of the less-fortunate among us for so many years certainly qualifies him for the Oklahoma Universal Human Rights Award,” said OKUHRA vice chair John Walters.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
http://www.un.org/en/universal-declaration-human-rights/index.html