Deaf Women United!
By KymBozarth on March 27, 2013
Deaf Women United—2 5 years old and still going strong!
Deaf Women United is an organization of, by, and for Deaf women. Founded in 1985, its goals are to provide tools, information, a system of communal support, and training in the areas of organizational management, personal growth, and empowerment. Prior to DWU’s birth in 1984, Marcella Meyer, then the Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles Council on Deafness in California, and other individuals, formed a committee whose efforts resulted in the highly successful 1985 Deaf women’s conference, “Deaf Women United.” At this conference, the concept of a national Deaf women’s organization was born and the name, Deaf Women United, Inc. was adopted.
Over the years, DWU has evolved to meet the needs of its membership. A national conference is held every two years to bring Deaf women together for the purpose of networking and sharing resources through workshops and group activities. A mentorship program was developed to provide Deaf, Deaf-blind, hard of hearing and late-deafened women with the opportunity to pair up with an expert in the area where growth was desired. This mentor would provide support in the areas of professional development or personal goals (including tips for single or stay at home mothers) and help the mentee succeed.
In addition, DWU worked closely with Gallaudet Leadership Institute (GLI) to develop the first ever Deaf Women Leadership program, a successful and popular endeavor that continues today. This one-week program, taught by Deaf women who are current or past DWU officers and community leaders, provides participants with tools to enhance their leadership abilities in an environment that facilitates input from their peers as well as other experienced professional Deaf women.
Recognizing that Deaf women need to be acknowledged for their contributions to the community, two distinct awards were developed by DWU. Modeled after the National Women’s Hall of Fame in New York, DWU established the Deaf Women Wall of Fame. Anyone can be nominated to the Wall of Fame for $50 and receive a plaque with their name. Nominators can be anyone in the community as well. Wall of Fame nominations make great Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and birthday gifts from those who want to give the gift of recognition to a special Deaf woman who has contributed much to the community.
Deaf Women of Achievement (DWOA) is a lifetime recognition award given to a Deaf woman who has gone above and beyond to support and advocate for the empowerment needs of Deaf women. These awards are prestigious and only one Deaf woman is selected every two years.
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