Celebrating Our Women Leaders –
Kyndra Simmons, Youth ALIVE! Director of Programs:
“When it comes to women and women’s history, I’ve been reflecting on how many changes are coming about: women holding more prestigious positions; women stepping into their power and owning it. Across the board, I’m seeing more women who’re feeling inspired by themselves, who’re taking their pain and turning it into a purpose. Women were too often okay with being in the shadows. Women are now in a time where they’re coming out of the shadows and being more vocal, being present, being powerful, being bold, and being heard. In different ways and on all of the issues, women are significant leaders, and it’s extraordinary. It has been a long time coming, but now women are making moves and have so much power they did not have before. We know women have always been powerful. We have voices and we can be heard, we can do things and it’s time. As the country and the world continue to grow, people will see women’s power.
“Women—many by nature—can be nurturing and caring, which contributes to healing. Women grow in different ways and at different paces, and the more comfortable women get, the more powerful they become. Women have a unique role in our work. For me, one of my early challenges working in violence prevention was that it was a male-dominated world. Men were at the forefront of gun violence, which meant that when women spoke, they were not heard as much. Women had to go harder: say more, do more, be more. When you talk about lived experiences—women did not have the experience that they have now. Politically, men led this field, which is what pushed me harder in this work: the knowledge that there is something positive that I could—and can—contribute. Taking the time to learn from and empathize with our clients and community . . . finding common ground leads to healing. I think being a woman enabled me to do that. I approach this work from a place of nurturing and without ego and continue to push forward. I have come across some strong and resilient women through our HAVI. Women used to not be on the frontline. Now, women are more educated and possess a better understanding about what’s going on, and most importantly how to cope with some of the things we see. Violence prevention is hard work and it takes a thick skin, but you also can’t hold it all in. You have to care for yourself and also provide a space for others to vent and let things out. It is something that I try to model and that I try to do for my colleagues. My hope for all women is: if there is something that inspires you or that you’re passionate about—something that makes you more expansive as a person and drives you—I want to see women pursue that. You must have something in your life that makes you happy and provides a purpose, that gives you longevity and satisfaction. Something that, should you choose to create a legacy, you’ve also left a roadmap.
“I have three daughters and I feel it’s important for them to view their mother as a strong, resilient woman who served a purpose not only as their mother but as a human being contributing to society.”
We know women have always been powerful. We have voices and we can be heard, we can do things and it’s time. As the country and the world continue to grow, people will see women’s power.