Women's History Heroes 2011
Alpha J. Buie is the Founder and Executive Director for the Inner City Adolescent Network (ICAN) located in the Bayview Hunter's Point District of San Francisco. The organization was initially founded as the Peninsula Omega Youth Club (POYC) in San Mateo County in 1991 in memory of Kofi Luster and Khari Johnson -- two 18-year-old youth murdered on the streets of San Francisco in a double homicide on June 28, 1990. Moved by a personal connection to the tragedy, Alpha committed herself to helping incarcerated and underserved youth discover alternative paths to reach their full potential. Through her work with ICAN, she is focused on empowering at-risk youth by providing counseling and intervention services, education and career planning support, and social skill development.
Alpha is a native of Desoto County, Mississippi. She is the fifth of ten children born and raised on a farm by a self taught mechanic and a domestic worker. Alpha graduated from Central Mississippi College earning a bachelor's degree in Elementary Education. After relocating to San Francisco in 1977, Alpha held several administrative positions until she accepted a position with the City and County of San Francisco as a Juvenile Counselor. She worked as a counselor for two years until being promoted to Deputy Probation Officer in the San Francisco Adult Probation Department. Her most notable assignment during twenty-two year tenure, was serving as Director of the P.O.W.E.R. Program (Probation Officers Working to End Recidivism). In addition to her work with ICAN, Alpha is the current director of Women Inspiring Strengthening & Empowering Program (WISE). She is chair of Northern California National African American Drug Policy Coalition (NC NAADPC) and she is an active member of Providence Baptist Church, a member of the Providence Foundation Board and the American Bar Association's Council on Racial & Ethnic Diversity in the Educational Pipeline and Liaison to Commission on At-Risk Youth. She is a mother and a grandmother, with four grandsons all located in the Bay Area.
Destiny Arts Center
Sarah Crowell, has taught dance, theater and violence prevention to youth and adults for over 20 years. She has run programs at Destiny Arts Center, an arts education and violence prevention center that serves thousands of young people each year, since 1990. She has served as dance teacher, workshop facilitator, program director and executive director. She currently serves as the organization's artistic director.
She has taught a unique blend unique blend of dance, theater and violence prevention to youth all over the Bay Area, in schools and community centers. She directed the dance program at Lick-Wilmerding High School in San Francisco, CA for 3 years, and directed an award-winning hip-hop dance ensemble at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts in Richmond, CA for 5 years. At Destiny Sarah co-founded the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company in 1993, a troupe for teens to co-create original movement/theater productions based on their own experiences. The company now performs for over 20,000 audience members a year at conferences, festivals and other community events. Sarah received 9 California Arts Council Artist in Residency grants for her work at Destiny and a National Endowment for the Arts grant to author a curriculum guide for artists working with teens called Youth on the Move: a teacher's guidebook to co-creating original movement/theater performances with teens. Sarah is the recipient of the 2007 KPFA peace award and the 2006 Purple Moon DreamSpeakers award.
Sarah performed and toured nationally with modern, jazz and dance/theater companies in Boston and the Bay Area, including Impulse Jazz Dance Company and the Dance Brigade, between 1984 and 2000. She also directed and performed with the dance/theater company i am! Productions between 1994 and 2002, which featured a two-woman show called Portrait of a Girl from Nowhere... an urban fairy tale. The piece explored issues of bi-racial identity through modern and hip-hop dance, theater, poetry and song.
Suzanne McKechnie Klahr
Suzanne McKechnie Klahr founded BUILD in 1999 with a public service fellowship from Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom. Under Suzanne's leadership, BUILD has grown from an initial four students to serve more than six hundred students from twelve partner public high schools. BUILD currently operates two San Francisco Bay Area sites, one site in Washington, DC, and has plans for national expansion. BUILD maintains an incredible track record with 100 percent of its seniors having applied to and gone onto college.
For her accomplishments with BUILD, Suzanne has received numerous awards and been asked to speak nationally on such topics as education, social entrepreneurship, venture philanthropy, new models of providing legal services to the poor, and poverty alleviation strategies. In 2006 she was inducted as a lifetime member of Ashoka, a global fellowship of leading social entrepreneurs. In 2007, she was honored by CBS's Jefferson Award on television, on radio, and in print. In 2008, Suzanne was elected to the San Mateo County Women's Hall of Fame and in 2009, she was named as one of Silicon Valley's Most Influential Women by the Silicon Valley/San Jose Business Times.
Suzanne serves as a trustee of the Skadden Fellowship Foundation and as a board member of the Bay Area Community Equity Fund, the Glow Scholarship Foundation, and is an Honorary Board Member of the Until There's A Cure Foundation. For the past six years, she has served as faculty adjunct at Stanford Law School teaching "Social Entrepreneurship," the first class of its kind at a Law School in the United States. She is also currently teaching this course at Harvard Law School. She earned a dual degree from Brown University and a JD from Stanford Law School, and she has successfully completed the Harvard Business School's Executive Education program in Strategic Perspectives in Non-Profit Management.
The Latina Center
Miriam Wong was born in Lima, Peru and has lived in California since 1988. She graduated from the California Women's Health Leadership, a program of the Center for Collaborative Planning, in 1998. As part of this leadership training, she initiated a Latina women's domestic violence support group or Comadre Circle in San Pablo. The process of facilitating a peer support group for Latinas experiencing domestic violence helped her realize the role of women as the first line of defense in a family's health and well-being. As a part of the self-help and peer support group process, Miriam encouraged women in the group who had escaped domestic violence to offer emotional support as caring Comadres for those currently experiencing abuse at home. In effect, these women became their own mental health caregivers. As a natural development of this self-help and peer support process, the women continued to offer emotional and social support to help each other be more independent even after the group had ended. Based upon this earlier experience, Miriam recognized the need for increased leadership capacity among grassroots Latina women.
In 1999, Miriam developed Mujer, Salud y Liderazgo/The Latina Community Women's Health Leadership Program (MSL), a culturally and linguistically specific program for building personal and professional leadership skills among Latina women. The following year, Miriam established The Latina Center, founded on the belief that successful and effective community change to improve health starts with leaders from the community, especially women. Located in Richmond, in the heart of West Contra Costa County, The Latina Center has propelled many Latina women into leadership positions in the community. Miriam is a dedicated advocate with a firm belief that she, and other women like her, can truly contribute to and make a difference in their own lives, in the lives of their families and in the community.
Anne Marie Theilen
Anne Marie Theilen, founder of S.C.R.A.P. (Scroungers' Center for Re-usable Art Parts) had her earliest experiences with creative re-use as a child during WWII. She was born in the French village of Ferrieres-en-Gatinais in 1933. New bicycle tires were hard to come by during the war and her father made tires by stamping coin shaped pieces in old inner tubes and then stringing them together like flat beads, one on top of the other. Once he had a long enough strand he wrapped them around the rim of the bicycle wheel- creativity born of necessity.
In 1957, she met her future husband and soon immigrated to the United States. They settled in San Francisco and started a family. After her third child was born, Anne Marie became involved in her daughter's elementary school when she became aware there were only 73 art teachers for 125 schools. After building up the volunteer art program at Edison Elementary School, Anne Marie went on to become co-director of the Alvarado Arts Workshop, an art program in a network of 18 San Francisco schools. This led to a position with the San Francisco Arts Commission where she worked for 17 years assuming the role of the Director of the Neighborhood Arts Program.
In 1975 the San Francisco Arts Commission Neighborhood Arts Program and the Alvarado Arts Workshop collaborated to participate in CETA, the Comprehensive Employment Training Act, a nationwide federal jobs program under President Nixon inspired by the Public Works Project of the 1930's. Through CETA eighty-five artists were hired to work in the schools and in the San Francisco community. Under the auspices of the San Francisco Arts Commission, Anne Marie, oversaw the CETA employees. As part of making this new public service successful the employees needed art supplies both to teach and work in the community. Scroungers' Center for Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP) was designed to locate and collect usable and discarded materials from businesses, factories and from the private sector and distribute them through a warehouse.
As part of the CETA program it was important to encourage artists to create their own works of art. The artists came up with the name SCRAP who felt they had to become scroungers in order to realize their artwork. In 1978 SCRAP incorporated as an independent non-profit organization. SCRAP would not exist today without Anne Marie Theilen. SCRAP is a model for creative reuse programs in the United States and all over the world, in New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Boston, Ireland, Australia, France and Japan. Anne Marie has continued to work with the organization through many changes and moves. Today, Anne Marie continues her efforts to keep it growing and thriving.
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