“The Constitution they wrote was designed to protect the rights of white, male citizens. As there were no black Founding
Fathers, there were no founding mothers – a great pity, on both counts. It is not too late to complete the work they left
undone. Today, here, we should start to do so.” – Shirley Chisholm, 8/10/1970 [SC, 11/30/24-1/1/05]
“Can’t we all just get along?” – Rodney King, 5/1/1992 [RK, 4/2/65-6/17/12]
The current pandemic has exposed great inequity and injustice in our country. We all face the deadly virus which can
only be controlled when we come together to fight it collaboratively.
So it is timely for the Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues to focus this month on aspects of women and race to examine
what the thinkers above urged us to address. Please note that the “today” of Shirley Chisholm’s words was more than
fifty years ago. The urgency seems to grow and especially with the events of recent days.
We are indeed fortunate to have these three women share their experience and expertise to guide us in this discussion
through an intergenerational lens.
Sheila Coates is a sixth generation Virginian activist on behalf of African American women and families for more than
four decades. In 1985 she founded Black Women United for Action (BWUFA), a community service volunteer
organization which she still serves as president. BWUFA has grown from 14 Northern Virginia members to an
international organization with ties in Africa, Canada and Europe. Her many accomplishments as the leader of BWUFA
include the development of the annual observance of the Slave Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony at Mount Vernon.
The annual ceremony, developed many years ago, has grown from a few local guests to travelers from all over the
world, including Africa and Canada. Ms. Coates has successfully advocated for the appointment of an African American
woman to the Board of George Mason University (a first in that institution’s history). She has testified numerous times
on behalf of African American families before official committees and commissions and has been invited to the White
House under two administrations to speak on public policy issues and family preservation. She is a member of the Board
of Directors of the Stan Lee Foundation, devoted to promoting literacy, diversity, culture and the arts. Ms. Coates has
received four gubernatorial appointments, including the Virginia Commission on Women, the George Mason University
Board, and the Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association Advisory Board. In addition, she has served on several other
community boards and commissions and has received numerous awards.
Thu Nguyen serves OCA-Asian Pacific American Advocates National as its Director. A graduate from Rice University with
degrees in Chemistry and Sociology, Thu found her way into the nonprofit sector through organizing Asian American
students on campus and bridging partnerships between student groups and local Houston community organizations.
Previously she freelanced for non-profits and Asian-owned start-ups to do community outreach and marketing. As
Director, Thu oversees storytelling, relationships, and operations for OCA. She brings a unique understanding of
grassroots organizing and design to her work at the national level where she focuses on the intersection of advocacy
with small businesses. She works 5-9 in hospitality, cosmetology, and zine-making. You can find her exploring how to
spacemake via thudawin.org.
Christian F. Nunes, MBA, MS, LCSW, in August 2020, became the president of the National Organization for Women
(NOW), the largest grassroots feminist organization in the country. She was previously appointed Vice President by the
NOW board in May 2019. Christian is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Consultant, and a Woman-Minority Business
Owner. She received her BSW degree from Northern Arizona University, Master of Science from Columbia University,
and Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. An active community organizer, she has spoken
at events such as the March for Black Women in 2018. Along with her activism for mental health, she also has over 20
years of experience advocating for children’s and women’s issues. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Consultant,
and Woman-Minority Business Owner. In 2006, she founded a behavioral health and consulting practice where she
assists social service and behavioral health companies, and provides direct mental health services to individuals and
families. As an advocate for social justice and mental health policy, she took up the role as Chair of the Phoenix Mayor’s
Commission on Disability Issues and co-authored a community survey on police response to crisis. Additionally, she has
worked tirelessly to elect progressive candidates to school boards and local office positions. She is often featured in
many media outlets such as Ebony, Black Enterprise magazine, AZ News Channel 3, and Yahoo News.
We hope you will join us in this important discussion which is co-sponsored by Montgomery County Maryland NOW and
that you will bring your questions to that conversation.
RSVP to the January 26, 2020 Zoom meeting here. At meeting time (noon), remember to join without activating your video and or audio if you do not wish to be seen, heard, or recorded. You may also want to rename your participant name to first name and last initial. This meeting will be recorded and posted to YouTube, and possibly also to Public Access Television.
Next Clearinghouse on Women’s Issues Zoom Meeting will be Tuesday Noon, Feb. 23, 2021.