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Celebrating Our Women Leaders

Jolynn Berk Author
By Jolynn Berk on March 8, 2021

Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day!

This is a special day to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women around the world. And, it’s also a call to rally for gender equality and awareness about global women’s issues.

Here at Rise Against Hunger, our mission is focused around support for the UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger, which has a direct relationship to SDG 5: Gender Equality, and the empowerment of women and girls. Our Pathways to End Hunger promote education and training opportunities for women and girls, helping them reach their full potential and setting them on a course for lifelong self-sufficiency. While great advances have been made for women’s equality in the last century, women still face significant underrepresentation in our daily lives and workplaces – including here in the U.S. and globally.

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re taking time to recognize four phenomenal women leaders who serve here on our team at Rise Against Hunger. These talented women fight hard each day to create opportunities for thousands of other women and girls around the world, and represent a small snapshot of all the amazing women leaders at Rise Against Hunger. Let’s get to know them!

  • Isabel Garcia Atienza, Community Engagement Manager

Originally from Venezuela, Isa brings an expanded worldview and global perspective to her Rise Against Hunger role leading community engagement and volunteer experiences in New England. Her passion for children’s causes ties directly to our mission’s impact, including healthy nutrition for school children in remote communities. Isa was recently selected to also chair and lead our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.

Isa’s challenge to celebrate women: “I was fortunate enough to grow up in a family where I was taught that I could do anything I set my mind to, but as a woman, I know all too well how society has been structured in a way to create obstacles for women, and worse, to pin women against each other. We must be willing to stand up to injustices and band together to make sure that all girls and women out there can grow up knowing that they can shatter glass ceilings and be the best they can be.

We all deserve to be heard. We must look within ourselves to find the courage to stand up for others. To elevate one another. To celebrate one another.”

  • Liza Munson, Senior Manager, Global Corporate Partners

A collaborative nonprofit fundraising professional, Liza leads and directs our Global Corporate Partnership team to generate funding for our mission and sustainable, life-changing opportunities for the people we serve. In addition to her global fundraising efforts at Rise Against Hunger, Liza’s past work experience includes serving in a development leadership role at one of the most highly respected voluntary health organizations in America, and leading donor campaigns for NGOs in South Africa and Geneva.

Liza shared what she personally champions to support women’s empowerment: “I celebrate women’s achievements by making an effort to applaud and support other women in their personal and professional endeavors. I try to do this both with women I know personally, and those I don’t. I try to listen with an open heart and open mind and remember that everyone’s perception is her reality. The past few months, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to audiobooks and podcasts by and for women. Some of my favorites have been Michelle Obama’s book Becoming, Gabrielle Union’s book We’re Going to Need More Wine, and Glennon Dolye’s Untamed. They were all interesting and insightful, but Glennon really rocked my world!”

  • Latoya Gillyard, Manager, Major Giving

Latoya’s passion for community and youth empowerment began 15 years ago while working for a youth development center that supported at-risk children in Philadelphia. She has been a leader in Rise Against Hunger’s development of a volunteer outreach and engagement program where her creativity and infectious spirit for our mission made an incredible impact. Recently, Latoya embraced a new role and responsibility for the cultivation and stewardship of donors with an appetite and capacity to invest in our mission. This passion for community empowerment is displayed in her personal life where she co-leads a women’s fellowship group at church.

Latoya’s personal perspective on gender equality: “Daily, I celebrate women because conscious and unconscious bias is prevalent throughout our society. No matter your age, level of education, cultural background, ethnicity and/or gender shouldn’t hinder the professional and personal growth of anyone. I challenge you to use every opportunity to uplift, encourage, inspire and celebrate women not one time a year, but every day by simply shining your own stage light on them privately and publicly. Dr. Dorothy Height said, “˜I was inspired by Mary McLeod Bethune, not only to be concerned but to use whatever talent I had to be of some service in the community.’ This quote keeps me going when I find myself having a rough day trying to break down barriers and still be passionate about equality, diversity and inclusion for all.”

  • Megan Wolf, Regional Community Engagement Manager

As an AmeriCorps alumnus, Megan has a passion for community service and special experience in empowering high school students to reach their full potential. This provided Megan with an ideal foundation for engaging Rise Against Hunger community volunteers to rally support for global school feeding programs, encouraging under resourced students to attend and stay in school. She now champions a full regional team of our community engagement leaders throughout the Southeast U.S.

Megan offered her personal insight on women’s equality: “Gender equality isn’t just important for women, it’s essential for any community to be sustainable, to create economic prosperity and allows everyone to flourish. It’s important for me in my role to identify, celebrate and increase visibility of achievements of women on my team to showcase to current and future staff that women have a place at the table, even if they haven’t seen representation there before.”

Let’s keep the dialogue about gender equality going long after today. Share your own personal stories and perspectives with your colleagues, friends and family and invite others to participate in the conversation. This is only one day in a movement that should happen every day of the year. Please join us!