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7 Groundbreaking Women Making a Difference in Our World—for Our Planet + Our Communities

From marine biology and baking to mental health, diverse women are creating positive change across sectors and for our communities.

By: Irene Franco Rubio, she/her 

Groundbreaking women are making a difference in our world across sectors, from marine biology and baking to mental health, and they are showing up authentically and unapologetically in spaces where diverse and representative voices like theirs have historically been excluded. In an effort to advance positive movements for environmental, racial, and social change, these women are creating community and laying the foundational groundwork for generations of women that are yet to come.

In Search of Inspiration? Search No More:

There is so much we, as women, can learn from one another. When looking for sources of inspiration in our lives, we sometimes overlook the uniquely beautiful and multifaceted ways positive change takes place all around us everyday. Here we’ve compiled a brief list of a few of the many careers and groundbreaking efforts led by diverse women who are devoted to doing good, advancing holistic movements for social change, and creating a better world for us all.

In this list of seven women who are paving the way while challenging the status quo, we can look to them for the inspiration we need to find the individual and collective power we each uniquely possess within ourselves. Their groundbreaking efforts are an inspiring call to action and opportunity to see how we, as women of all ages and backgrounds, can ultimately become groundbreaking, too.

Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson

Climate Justice On Land + Under the Sea

First up is marine biologist Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, co-founder of the Urban Ocean Lab, former co-host of the renowned podcast How to Save a Planet, and co-editor of the anthology titled, All We Can Save: Truth, Courage, and Solutions for the Climate Crisis.

An expert in her field and fierce advocate against the climate crisis, Johnson is a catalyst for change for our earth’s environment—on land and under the sea —and has been a groundbreaking voice at the forefront of the climate justice movement. 

Paola Velez

Baking Pastries to Dismantle Systemic Racism

Award-winning afro-pastry chef and baker Paola Velez is a co-founder of Bakers Against Racism (BAR), a collective of people who bake to make the world a better place. #BakeTheChange is an online movement and social media campaign to generate engagement in support of causes around the world, such as #BakeforUkraine, and to amplify bake sales for #BakersAgainstRacism.

What began in 2020 as a small pop-up in Washington, D.C. in support of the local undocumented workforce emerged into the world's largest bake sale (unofficially) that raised over $2.5 million for social justice causes worldwide. Now, BAR has launched a global bake sale activation—Bake for Ukraine—to fundraise for those who are providing food, shelter, transportation, and medical services for those impacted by war in Ukraine. 

Velez has been foundational in generating this untraditional movement against racism, utilizing the power of community activism through food and highlighting how people of all walks of life can be part of this “Make Cake, Not War” movement in the fight against injustice. 

Adriana Alejandre

Destigmatizing Mental Health

Latinx mental health professional Adriana Alejandre and founder of Latinx Therapy seeks to challenge mental health stigmas in the Latinx community by focusing on centering cultural sensitivity and resources.

By providing a national directory and making therapy accessible, Alejandre has created a space for Latinx people to receive consultation, support, and community by centering cultural competence and sensitivity to make therapy more inclusive and accessible. Alejandre has been central to challenging social norms and destigmatizing cultural perceptions on mental health. 

Brittany Packnett Cunningham

Uplifting Women’s Voices Doing the Work: At the Intersection of Gender + Racial Justice

A movement leader in the fight for racial justice, beginning as a pivotal force in the Ferguson Uprising, Brittany Packnett Cunningham is a central voice in the national public discourse on justice for Black lives, against police brutality, and in pursuit of liberation of all oppressed people.  

Activist, educator, and writer, Packnett Cunningham is the host of the UNDISTRACTED weekly podcast that highlights and uplifts the voices of diverse women of color such as Nikole Hannah-Jones, Anita Hill, and Gloria Steinem, all of whom are advocating for change through multifaceted approaches at the intersection of gender, politics, and racial justice.  

Sena Mohammed

Enacting Change Locally Through Grassroots Community Organizing

In local BIPOC communities across the country, grassroots organizers are at the forefront of generating the civic and political empowerment of everyday working people in historically marginalized communities of color. In Arizona, Chief of Staff at the Arizona Coalition for Change and Our Voice, Our Vote Arizona, Sena Mohammed is a vital force in the movement for change as a Oromia Black Muslim womxn based in Phoenix. 

A leading activist in the fight for racial justice and the civic and political empowerment of Black people in a state that has historically forgotten Black voices, Mohammed is spearheading Black-led community engagement at the forefront of grassroots organizing, legislative policy, and civic engagement.

Through programs such as the Unified Black African Descendants initiative (UBADD), an effort to generate community dialogue and relationship building through Black African Leadership Roundtable events, AZC4C’s multicultural team seeks to reflect the diversity of Black nations as a collective in Arizona.

Flor

For Farmworking Women + Families in the Fields 

Revolutionist and fierce advocate for immigration reform, Flor—@flowerinspanish—is an immigrant farmworker rights activist based in California. Flor has generated a movement online and off by addressing the poor working conditions for farmworkers, and various ways farmworkers’ health and wellbeing is neglected.

As an advocate for farmworkers and their families, Flor leads major calls to action online, generating financial support for resources including gear for working with pesticides, food for families, school supplies for the children of farmworkers, in addition to other necessities for our essential workers. With a current call to action to provide feminine hygiene care for farm-working women, Flor continues to shine light on the injustice and challenges immigrant farm working communities face while broadly advocating for immigration reform.

Kath Rogers

Lawyering, Educating, and Empowering the Next Generation

An attorney in civil rights law and community organizer based in Los Angeles, CA, Kath Rogers is a bold advocate for human rights, unhoused individuals, protester rights, and free speech and  now serves as a Staff Attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Southern California.

Rogers is also an associate professor at the University of Southern California, spearheading the Agents of Change program. Rogers believes in empowering the next generation of advocates who are already creating change today and does so by educating a diverse cohort of young college student advocates working with Los Angeles-based community organizations through advocacy, law, and government.

Written by Irene Franco Rubio for Youth To The People