YWCA Women of Distinction Awards inspire others to achieve by recognizing the leadership of women in a variety of arenas. YWCA Women of Distinction have brought key issues facing women, girls and people of color to the forefront. The awards recognize outstanding women in Southeastern Massachusetts whose lives and accomplishments reflect the YWCA’s Mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. Honorees are recognized for their exceptional commitment to improving the lives of women and girls through their leadership, advocacy, and community service, while achieving success in their career fields.
Woman of Distinction: Tanya Alves
The first Women of Distinction awardee, is Ms. Tanya Alves. Raised in New Bedford, she has been a mentor for young people for more than 20 years. She has created a variety of successful youth development programming in the area for New Directions, Insight Youth Development, and other youth groups. She is a former YWCA Board Member, serving as Clerk and is currently a member of the Martha Briggs Educational Club and a recent member of the Dartmouth Rotary. Tanya is business partners with her mom at Celia’s Boutique, located in downtown New Bedford, which is one of the few women owned minority businesses in the city. She is also the principal in Southcoast Development Solutions, LLC, a consultant business she owns with her husband.
Woman of Distinction: Danielle Brown
Danielle Brown is the FAIHR Project Coordinator, a program within Steppingstone Inc., which provides services to homeless individuals with severe mental health or co-occurring disorders. In addition, she oversees the Welcome Home supportive housing program, a HUD funded program for those previously homeless in the City of New Bedford, as well as providing outreach services to those homeless on the streets. She is a Recovery Coach Academy trainer, supervisor and CARC certified recovery coach for the Steppingstone Recovery Coaching Program.
Woman of Distinction: Samia Walker
Through her own non-profit organization, Doodles Creative Sessions, Samia has built strong networking relationships that will accentuate her passion for inclusive communities. She remains active in her community through local non-profit organizations that focus on the youth, such as Third EyE Youth Empowerment, New Bedford Historical Society, and Black Girl Magic. As an alumnus of EforAll South Coast, Samia is excited to contribute to such an important part of her community in her role as Program Manager. Her perspective of the accelerator program will offer future entrepreneurs the support and guidance to help their businesses flourish, especially through adversity. She has proven that through her acceptance of the honorable Christina Hamilton Award.
Woman of Distinction: Mandi Costa
Mandi is a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer, serving from 1984 to 2005, including Operation Desert Storm and post 9/11. Currently, Mandi works as an Assistant District Director with the U.S. Department of Labor, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs at the Boston District Office. As an Assistant District Director, Mandi diligently investigates discrimination against women, minorities, veterans and individuals with disabilities and has led discrimination investigations for multi-million dollar settlement cases. She is also on the Board of Directors for A’s B4 and volunteers with the Cape Verdean Veterans Association.
Spirit of Leadership Award: Jacqueline Le
Jacqueline has a passion for community service and civic engagement. She has demonstrated both leadership and commitment to the Mayor’s Youth Council (MYC) during her tenure on the council and served as co-chair. Jacqueline was actively involved in 2 citywide election forums participating as a panelist as well as supporting last year’s event chair to have a successful event by helping to plan the forum and offering guidance, support and her time as a volunteer. She chaired and coordinated the MYC’s successful Leadership Academy for middle school youth. She planned a multi-week course on leadership, recruited and trained volunteers, coordinated the Academy sites and participants and delivered three successful Academies as the major project conducted by the MYC last year.
The Yvonne M. Drayton Award: Lynn Whitney, Esq.
Lynn and Wendy Pacheco formed an Association in 2007 and she continues to practice law in New Bedford as Whitney and Pacheco. Active with New Bedford community organizations and professional organizations over the past four decades, she was a director and then president of the YWCA for five years during the 1990s. She had the privilege of working with Yvonne Drayton as the Executive Director during those years, and was inspired along with many others by Yvonne‘s long-term vision on how to improve the YWCA and fulfill the mission of eliminating racism and empowering women.