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22ywomenofachiev

The 2022 Charleston YWCA Women of Achievement honorees are (from left) Dr. Jacqueline Stump, Shimaya Jones, Judge Stephanie D. Thacker, Dr. Sherri Young and Kenyatta Coleman Grant.

Tickets and sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2022 YWCA Charleston Women of Achievement awards ceremony and luncheon in February.

The 25th annual event will take place from noon until 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 25, at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

The yearly celebratory salute recognizes local women who have made significant impacts upon their communities or within their professions. An Empowerment Award is also presented, to honor a woman who has overcome challenging life circumstances to achieve her goals. A “Woman to Watch” category extols a woman whose professional standing is on the rise.

The silver anniversary YWCA Charleston Women of Achievement honorees are Dr. Sherri Young, Associate Chief Medical Officer to the CAMC Health Network and the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department Interim Executive Director and Health Officer; Judge Stephanie Thacker, U.S. Circuit Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit; Kenyatta Coleman Grant, Community Organizing Coordinator for the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence; “Woman to Watch” Dr. Jacqueline H. Stump, a dentist with Howard & Howard Dental; and Empowerment Award winner Shimaya Jones, who has attained personal, scholastic and professional goals with the assistance and support of the YWCA Charleston Sojourner’s Shelter for Homeless Women and Families and the Alicia McCormick Homes.

Proceeds from February’s luncheon and ceremony will support YWCA Charleston programs and the nonprofit agency’s mission.

“This is our 25th year, and, as with all things of nature, it started kind of small,” Women of Achievement Committee Lead Chairperson Ruth Joseck said. “They picked three women to honor in the Kanawha Valley area that first year.

“The impetus of the event to fund raise for the YWCA. The Y receives lots of funding from many, many others, but it’s often very specific for what we can use it for. We were looking back then to do some fundraising to support the management of the Y — staff, salaries, overhead and those things.”

Joseck said the first year of the Women of Achievement Awards raised $20,000. “Over the years, it’s grown and raised $100,000 each year for the YWCA.”

The Empowerment Award was later added, bestowed to an woman who has been affiliated with a YWCA Charleston program. “That person is someone who has been through one of the programs, through the Sojourner’s Shelter or the Mel Wolf Child Development Center, for example, who has had a difficult time, for whatever reason, and who has gone on to live a successful life,” Joseck explained. “We were honoring a lot of successful women, but there are a lot of women we felt should be honored for having achieved something through difficult circumstances as well.”

Also added in ensuing years was the “Women to Watch” distinction. “The ‘Woman to Watch’ is a younger woman who maybe has not reached her professional peak but is well on their way,” YWCA Charleston Development and Marketing Director Shannon Lester said.

Lester noted that 2022’s award recipients will mark 79 Women of Achievement honorees since the program began.

Joseck said a common bond of all of them has been each woman’s professional or personal kinship to the YWCA Charleston’s guiding mission. “It’s their achievements that are being honored,” she said, “but also how their achievements reflect our mission of empowering women and eliminating racism and how those achievements align with our mission.”

Joseck said anyone can nominate a woman for award recognition. “They don’t have to necessarily be associated with the YWCA in any direct way,” she said. “Our committee gets together in late July or early August and reviews every single nomination.”

2022 Women of Achievement honorees

• Kenyatta Coleman Grant

Grant joined the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence 20 years ago and has served as its Criminal Justice Specialist. She is currently the Community Organizing Coordinator, responsible for educating and raising awareness of domestic violence in marginalized communities such as communities of color and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning and Intersex community.

Grant coordinates and facilitates culturally specific training sessions on anti-oppression, implicit bias, diversity, cultural competency and awareness to law enforcement, statewide domestic violence advocates and other nonprofit agencies.

As a member of the YWCA Charleston Racial Justice Committee, the Charleston resident co-developed the Implicit Bias training the YWCA Racial Equity and Inclusion Program implements.

Gov. Jim Justice named Grant chair of the West Virginia Women’s Commission in 2020.

She received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Marshall University with a minor in Criminal Justice. She also received her Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice from Marshall Graduate College, minoring in Sociology.

• Shimaya Jones

2022 YWCA Women of Achievement Empowerment Award recipient Jones grew up in Charleston. Encountering financial hardship, she, her younger sister and their grandmother entered the YWCA Sojourner’s Shelter for Homeless Women and Families several years ago.

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Then 22, Jones was a full-time student at West Virginia State University, pursuing a degree in Social Work. She started an internship at Piedmont Elementary School during that time.

After living at Sojourner’s for two months, Jones transferred to the YWCA Alicia McCormick Homes transitional living program, learning a variety of life skills. While there, she continued her full-time studies at WVSU. She also attained permanent housing, which permitted her to assume custody of her sister.

Jones graduated from WVSU in 2011 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work. She became a case manager for the Sojourner’s Shelter and later a residential aide at the YWCA Shanklin Center for Senior Enrichment, serving as its Community Engagement Specialist through 2019.

Jones is now the Housing First Case Manager with Covenant House in Charleston.

“I think it’s a wonderful honor, and I was very surprised to hear I received it,” Jones said. “I also think it was wonderful for them to reach back and think about me during the time I was staying there.

“It definitely shaped me to become the woman I am today, having gone through the transitional living program at the Alicia McCormick Homes. If it wasn’t for them, I don’t know what I would have done with my life. It really allowed me to become the person I’ve become.”

• Dr. Jacqueline Stump

A Charleston native, Stump completed her undergraduate studies in Biology and Chemistry at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, in 2008. She attended the West Virginia University School of Dentistry, graduating with a Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree in 2012. After graduating dental school, she has trained and worked with her two uncles and brother in private practice at Howard & Howard Dental in Charleston.

“I’ve been involved with the YWCA for going on 10 years now,” Stump said. “I started as a volunteer for their Girls Night Out fundraising event, and now I’m one of the lead chairs for GNO, which is held to raise funds to eliminate domestic violence.”

Joseck notified her that she had been named the latest “Woman to Watch” on a Zoom call, Stump said, “and I was actually surprised. It’s quite an honor and very humbling.”

Stump is also a member of the Clay Center Board of Directors and has served on various committees with the center, including co-chairing its Carnaval fundraisers in 2019 and 2020.

• Judge Stephanie Thacker

Thacker graduated magna cum laude in 1987 from Marshall University with a degree in Business Administration. In 1990, she graduated Order of the Coif from the West Virginia University College of Law, where she served as a member of the West Virginia Law Review and edited the issue of the West Virginia Law Review that focused on the coal industry.

She started her legal career as an associate with then Kirkpatrick and Lockhart’s Pittsburgh office. She served as a federal prosecutor for 12 years, both at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia and at the Department of Justice in the Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section.

Afterward, Thacker was a member of the Guthrie and Thomas law firm in Charleston. She was nominated and appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2011 by Barack Obama.

• Dr. Sherri Young

Young and her Unified Health Command Team have been at the forefront of Kanawha County’s COVID-19 pandemic response since early 2020, working with the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department in conjunction with several other city and county agencies.

Awards the Pinch resident has received for her professional efforts during the pandemic response include the 2021 West Virginia Family “Doc” of the Year Award from the West Virginia Academy of Family Physicians, the 2021 We Love Our Community Awards for Servant Leadership from the Charleston Area Alliance, the Angel Award from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and a Certificate of Congressional Recognition from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.).

To attend the event ...

In the interest of public safety, those attending who are 12 and older will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination for entrance to the ceremony.

“We’re trying to make sure everything is as safe as possible. Generally, we have over 500 attendees, and I don’t think we can find a bigger place than we already have to have this,” Joseck said.

Tickets, sponsorship information and forms and nomination forms for future Women of Achievement nominees are all available at ywcacharleston.org/woa or by calling the YWCA Charleston at 304-340-3594 from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays.

Metro reporter Clint Thomas can be reached at cthomas@hdmediallc.com or by calling 304-348-1232.

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