The DYW Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Council is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion at all levels of DYW. We recognize the long-standing inequities present within our organization and appreciate the value that diverse groups of participants, volunteers, and judges bring. We invite you to join us in our mission to enhance the quality of the DYW experience for future participants, as well as make DYW accessible for all young women across the nation.
The Distinguished Young Women Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council seeks to build the Distinguished Young Women (DYW) of America program as one that embraces, sustains, and develops each diverse participant, volunteer, committee member, chairperson, and judge.
- Our mission is to ensure that all stakeholders are educated on systemic social issues, including but not limited to those involving race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic standing, ability, gender, and sexual orientation. We also recognize that there is a necessary shift in the framework of the program and its components that needs to occur – and will piece by piece be providing recommendations to dismantle and reform the present structure. As such, we expect to progress through stages of development with a goal of promoting inclusivity within our organization at all levels to encapsulate and depict the rich diversity of our nation and it’s ever changing social climate.
- Through a multi-faceted approach, we intend to assist in the education and development of volunteers, judges, chairpeople, national administration, and sponsors. In conjunction, there will be ongoing recruitment and assessments in the communities that have had the greatest underrepresentation, to better understand the barriers that continue to discourage and make participation in the program seem unattainable. From this, we hope to continue to apply what we learn as we massage the framework of the organization as a whole – to be more welcoming, equitable, just, and diverse for all who wish to participate at any level of the organization (e.g. state, local, national).
- In terms of timeline, we plan to develop and communicate by the end, a list of actionable steps that will help us to prioritize the “how” factor of our work in an effort to keep our mission realistic and achievable. Some of which are as follows:
- We intend to purposefully reach out to high schools in minority communities, which have been traditionally overlooked and underrepresented in the program.
- We intend to create guidelines and resources for all leaders across the organization to equip them with the necessary tools to ensure that the recruitment process for all volunteers, including, but not limited to chairpeople, judges, program sponsors, board members, and executive committee members are representative of the diverse backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints we seek to embody as we transform. We will find ways to educate stakeholders with racial and cultural training programs and resources that will assist in helping to keep the organization current and sustainable for the long-term.
- We intend to suggest reform of current structures of the DYW program that present gatekeepers to marginalized and underrepresented communities on a multitude of levels. We will work to hold the program as an entire entity, responsible for the recognition of these present limitations, and the work and reform required to implement the recommended changes – so that Distinguished Young Women can be a program that is equitable, inclusive, just, and one that holds true to its mission of striving” to give every young woman the opportunity to further her education and prepare for a successful future”.
• 1991 National Winner
• National Finals Co-Host
Tinley Park, IL
• DYW of Illinois State Chair
• 1997 O’Fallon’s Junior Miss (IL)
|Emily Hart Lopez|
New York, NY
• 2012 DYW of Charleston (SC)
• Former Nationals Judge
• 2021 DYW of Southern Frederick County (MD)
• 2016 DYW of Virginia
• State Judge, Program Emcee, Choreographer
• DYW of Florida State Chair
The Dalles, OR
• Parent of 2018 DYW of Oregon, Jessika Nanez
Do you have thoughts or feedback you would like to share with the Council? Please email us at Inbox@DistinguishedYW.org.