Organization Promotes Inclusion to Form a More Perfect Union

WASHINGTON, Sept. 22, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — At a time when suspicion, intolerance, and virulent rhetoric tear at the fabric of our society, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. (BWA) is embracing inclusivity. At its 46th Annual Symposium Town Hall & Awards Luncheon today, the organization saluted celebrities, elected officials, and leaders in the health, education, and business arenas pursuing a more perfect union. It also encouraged more than 1,500 participants and supporters to tear down the walls of fear, doubt, and insecurity that surround themselves and their communities and open themselves up instead to opportunities to seek common ground and establish an environment where everyone can thrive. 

Symone Sanders-Townsend, left, political strategist and host of MSNBC’s weekend talk show “Symone,” and actor and senatorial candidate Hill Harper, center, congratulate actor, director, producer and honoree Kerry Washington, right, during The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. 46th Annual Symposium Town Hall & Awards Luncheon at the Renaissance Washington, DC Downtown Hotel on Friday, September 22, 2023 in Washington.
(Paul Morigi/AP Images for The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc.)

“Inclusiveness for this nation is the only path forward.” —  BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess

The United States is the most diverse nation on earth, and that is its superpower,” said BWA President Gwainevere Catchings Hess. “A more perfect union requires the talents, creativity, insights, and contributions of all of its people. Inclusiveness can be a challenge, but for this nation, it is the only path forward.”

Moderated by Symone Sanders-Townsend, author, political strategist, and host of MSNBC’s weekend talk show “Symone,” BWA’s Town Hall featured a panel discussion focused on how mental health, social, physical, economic, and spiritual influences impact people’s well-being and how they present and interact with their families, communities, and the outside world. Panelists included Trisha Bailey, Ph.D., mental health advocate, philanthropist, author, and Founder & CEO, Medical Equipment & Supplies and Pharmacy; Martin Booker, Manager, Financial Resilience Program, AARP; Pamela Garmon Johnson, Vice President, Health Equity and National Partnerships, American Heart Association; Dr. Aeva Gaymon-Doomes, double board-certified physician specializing in the psychiatric care of children, adolescents and women at the Washington Center for Women & Children’s Wellness; Kelli Richardson Lawson, mental health advocate and Founder & CEO, The SonRise Project, and Deborah Telman, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs and General Council, Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Sanders-Townsend also facilitated an intimate conversation with Emmy-winning, SAG and Golden Globe nominated actor, director, producer and organizer Kerry Washington and Minyon Moore, activist, author, and chair of the 2024 Democratic National Convention, discussing how their personal journeys evolved into civic engagement, influence, and activism.

This year’s Black Women’s Agenda honorees included:

  • Kerry Washington;
  • Cheryl Boone Isaacs, Past President, Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences, currently Founding Director, the Sidney Poitier New American Film School at Arizona State University; 
  • Cheryl Campbell, Assistant Secretary for Administration, Department of Health and Human Services;
  • The Honorable Valdez Demings, former U.S. Representative from Florida’s 10th Congressional District;
  • Byna Elliott, Global Head, Advancing Black Pathways, JPMorgan Chase; 
  • The Honorable Alexis M. Herman, Former Secretary of Labor and Chair and CEO of New Ventures, LLC; 
  • Sheila Johnson, Founder & CEO, the Salamander Collection; 
  • Michaela Joyce, Notre Dame University sophomore and internationally ranked fencer in the Épée event; 
  • Dr. Tonya M. Matthews, CEO, International African American Museum; 
  • Lisa Phillips, Principal, Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, a nationally recognized college preparatory school of excellence, and 
  • Trinity Smith, a Princeton University freshman majoring in chemistry and biological engineering.
  • The Honorable Bennie G. Thompson, U.S. Representative for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District and Chair of the Select Committee investigating the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol

“Here’s what we know,” Catchings Hess told the luncheon gathering. “The same walls that keep “others” out hem us in. Life is too short and precious for us not to put our collective efforts to establish a more inclusive nation and a better world.”

Founded in 1977 in Washington, DC, The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc. is a non-profit 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

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SOURCE The Black Women’s Agenda, Inc.

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