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“Women of Courage: Inspiring a New World,” honoree information

October 10, 2011
For Immediate Release

Contact: Mariana Llamas-Cendon
Tel.: (206) 685-1090

"Women of Courage: Inspiring a New World" 2011 Gala
Seattle, WA – Oct 10, 2011 – On Saturday October 22nd, ten courageous women from different backgrounds, ethnicities and disciplines who share the courage of having set the foundations for a new society based on social justice, and equality, will be honored by the University of Washington Women’s Center, at the Westin Seattle from 6 to 8 p.m., during "Women of Courage: Inspiring a New World" Gala 2011. This year’s Gala is centered on women in Washington State who have an impact in the communities they serve, whose hard work shifted the paradigm, forged new paths for society, and inspired others.

These exceptional women, which include Washington State’s governor, Chris Gregoire, among medical doctors, activists, entrepreneurs, politicians, university professors, attorneys… Asians, Hispanic descendants, Americans, Middle Eastern, African-Americans, who have stood up, spoke out and withstand against injustice, poverty, and discrimination, share the one vision that education, community outreach, service and knowledge will change the world.

In that new world, women and men work together evenhanded towards closing unfairness, and inequity gaps while providing a voice and empowering those underserved, defenseless, and discriminated but also shaping the path for our future leaders.

2011 "Women of Courage: Inspiring a New World," honorees are:

Chris Gregoire, Washington State 22nd Governor

Chris Gregoire has delivered real results to the people of Washington. Facing a $2.2 billion budget shortfall when she took office in 2005, Governor Gregoire balanced the state’s budget as she expanded health care coverage to low-income children, led an effort to make government more efficient and accountable, introduced a plan to create a world class education system, and launched a bold plan to save Puget Sound. In 2007, she proposed and the voters passed a constitutionally protected rainy day fund to help the state prepare for economic downturns like we face today. Governor Gregoire introduced and won approval for a landmark transportation package to create jobs and address critical challenges with roads and bridges. She established a dedicated fund to reduce class sizes, helped increase enrollments at our colleges and universities, and protected vital social services for the state’s most vulnerable individuals and families. Governor Gregoire is committed to promoting and expanding business and creating family-wage jobs in the state of Washington.

Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, Helen H. Jackson Chair in Human Rights / Founding Director of UW’s Center for Human Rights

A sociologist by training graduated from Harvard in 1994, with a PhD from UC Berkley in 2001, Angelina Snodgrass Godoy worked on staff at Amnesty International, which enabled her to first travel to Guatemala as the 36-year civil war was ending. The education she obtained in rural highlands villages, urban squatter settlements, and other impoverished communities -sometimes from people with only a few years of formal schooling, but a depth of wisdom that books can’t broker – changed her view of what matters. Angelina Snodgrass Godoy practiced human rights in Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica and Colombia, where her mother is from.

Jerlyn Brusseau, Co-founder of PeaceTrees Vietnam

Jerilyn Brusseau mastered the craft of turning sorrow into service by co-founding PeaceTrees Vietnam, the first US NGO to receive permission to work on landmine removal. Since 1995, PeaceTrees has cleared over 523 acres of land in Quang Tri Province .PeaceTrees has provided survivor assistance to over 700 landmine victims and their families; educate locals about explosives and spread mine awareness to communities; works with American veterans to raise funds for schools and libraries that are built in villages throughout Quang Tri Province, and supports their rehabilitation after their service in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Julia Bolz, Founder AYNI education International Julia is a nationally-recognized speaker and social justice advocate. In 1998, she traded a successful, international law career to help people in the world’s most impoverished regions amend discriminatory laws, procure loans, establish businesses, and negotiate political challenges. She has travelled to over 70 countries and has volunteered with dozens of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), government entities, and businesses around the world. She regularly meets with U.S. government, business, military and community leaders to talk about the importance of educating children in the developing world. And, she serves as an advisor on education to the U.S.-Afghan Women’s Council.

Kay Hirai, Owner of Studio 904 Hair Design and Spa

Kay Hirai came from Japan to Seattle at the age of eleven not knowing a word of English. In 1976 opened her salon, Studio 904. In 2004, Hirai was named the "National Minority Entrepreneur of the Year" by the U.S. Department of Commerce. From 1997 – 2001, Hirai chaired the Governor’s Small Business Improvement Council. In 2003, she directed the small business and workforce training program in the Governor’s Economic Development Commission, and successfully passed "Direct Entry to Work" bill (of her authorship) to Governor Gregoire’s office in 2008. She is the author of "Yumi’s Life Lessons How to Empower Yourself and Make Everyday a Happy Day," which has raised $4,000 for the Pasado’s animal safe haven. In 2011, Hirai gathered $9,000 in donations to help Japan’s tsunami and earthquake victims.

Michele Storms, Assistant Dean for Public Service, UW School of Law

Michele Storms has changed the destiny of many students through her mentoring of the William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholarship Program. She has encouraged collaboration with student groups opening new opportunities such as "Social Justice Tuesdays," now a staple of our law school community, offering a variety of speakers on subjects ranging from gender issues, human rights, discrimination, government policies, to many others. Michele also supports student leaders in organizing cutting-edge conferences such as Three Degree Climate Change conference in 2009 and the upcoming Education Equity Conference in 2012.

Nassim Assefi, MD

Dr. Assefi is women’s health specialist, and novelist, working across disciplines to improve the lives of women worldwide. Other jobs include caring for patients at The Country Doctor Community Health Clinics, in Seattle; doing pro-bono torture evaluations of refugees seeking political asylum, being medical adviser to; serving on the board of the Guttmacher Institute, and volunteering in projects with TED. A second generation Iranian-American, Nassim is a graduate of the University of Washington Medical School, and Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s residency program, in Massachusetts. She was named of the top 40 under 40 feminists in 2010 by The Feminist Press at CUNY. "Aria," her first novel was published by Harcourt in 2007 and translated to five foreign languages; her novel Say I Am You has just been submitted for publication.

Patricia S. Novotny, Attorney

Patricia Novotny, a Midwesterner by birth and temperament and a Pacific Northwesterner by choice, grew up in Omaha, Nebraska. She earned her B.A. in English Literature from Reed College in Portland, and then attended law school at the University of Washington. She has appeared as counsel on cases establishing the unconstitutionality of sex-based peremptory challenges in Washington, reversing the criminal prosecution of a woman for using drugs during pregnancy, and as counsel for amici curiae in cases addressing rights of third-parties to visitation, protecting the reproductive rights of disabled women, seeking property rights for same-sex partners in long- term intimate relationships, seeking recognition of the parental status of a lesbian ex-partner, involving the distribution of embryos in a marital dissolution, and involving child custody and domestic violence. She was lead appellate counsel in Andersen v. King County, which sought recognition of marriage equality for same-sex couples, and argued the case in the Washington Supreme Court.

Trish Millines Dziko, Co-founder and Executive Director of Technology Access Foundation

Trish Millines Dziko was the first woman who landed a full basketball scholarship to Monmouth College in Illinois, and majored in Computer Science during the 1970s. She worked testing military technology at Computer Science Corps and Hughes Aircraft Company; writing test scripts for UNIX-based operated systems at Fortune Systems; managed a team at Tekecalc, Inc.; and became a respected manager at Microsoft during the 1990s. In 1996, she started helping children of color learn and prepare for the work world with technology as a tool at the Technology Access Foundation (TAF). The foundation’s internship program has given more than 100 youth IT experience.

About the UW Women’s Center

The University of Washington Women’s Center is a vital place where women and men partner to build a culture of gender equity campus-wide, locally and globally. Women’s rights are human rights. The Women’s Center envisions a society where women and men work together to transform social norms so that: Everyone has a voice, and everyone matters; Women are free to realize and fulfill their potential; Equality of access, inclusion and leadership thrive in every aspect of society; Violence and oppression against women and children are unacceptable; Through education, women and men become agents of social change; Our campus climate recognizes and values the unique perspective and significant contribution of female students, faculty and staff.

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