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The Bella Bulletin NOVEMBER 2017

The Political Opinion Editorial Read original pieces by our BALI Alumni, Daysi Martinez-George, Maya Walborsky, and Johanna Martinez: An Open Letter to Phil Murray, Listening is Important to Progress, and #FreeCyntoiaBrown.



Become a BALI Sponsor! See page 6 for more information!

#metoo and Sexual Assault Scandals Read our Featured Article of the Month and our Trailblazer Tribute to learn more about the #MeToo campaign and about the impact of the sexual assault stories coming to light.

Table of Contents Upcoming Events……………………………..……..3

This month at BALI………………………..……….4 Sponsorship Flyer…………………………………....6 This Month in Women’s History…….…….……7 2017 Leaders of the month…………………….…8 ALUMNI Spotlight: Women in Action …..……9 Trailblazer Tribute.……………………….…..…...10 ALUMNI Political Editorial …………..…..…... .12 Featured Article of the Month………......…….14 Featured Headlines of the Month……………..16 BALI STAFF & Board of Directors……….……....18 BELLA BULLETIN STAFF …………………………......19

Upcoming Event BALI’s Annual Alumnae Holiday Party Come join your fellow BALI Alumnae for an evening of fun, food and networking! BALI's Annual End of the Year Celebration is the perfect opportunity to mix and mingle with your BALI sisters from your year as well as years past! RSVP by Monday December 18 is mandatory. Please remember to bring ID. We look forward to seeing you! Please forward all questions to BALI Program Coordinator, Gabriela Valette (

Date: Thursday, December 28, 2017 Time: 5 pm- 8pm Location: Hunter College, West 8th floor


THIS MONTH AT BALI The Afterschool Program This month at the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute we have continued our work with middle and high school students in the New York City. Similar to the Summer Leadership and Debate Intensive, we work with middle schools and high schools to educate, inspire and empower young, under-served, minority and immigrant girls and women in NYC’s metropolitan area to become effective, dynamic and visionary 21st century leaders. BALI trainees develop the skills to analyze contemporary public policy issues through workshops on debate techniques, public speaking, critical thinking policy and evidentiary research, and writing speeches, articles and creative pieces. We believe in providing the highest academic level of leadership and competitive debate curricula, which reflects local, national, and global concerns.

If you are part of one of the afterschool programs, consider submitting to the newsletter! We would love to share your experiences and interests.

Pictured above is our program at Mott Haven Preparatory. 4

Thank you to the NoVo Foundation for valuing the work we do, and thank you to everyone who continues support the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute and its mission. The NoVo foundation strives to “foster a transformation from a world of domination and exploitation to one of collaboration and partnership.

Congratulations BALI on Receiving the NOVO Foundation Grant for the 4th Year in A Row!

To learn more about the NoVo Foundation, please visit: https://novofoundation. org/ 5


Women’s History of the month:



"If you tell yourself that you aren't judgmental, you're just lying. Everyone subconsciously creates predispositions; they aren't always negative, but regardless, they exist. It's important to remember that your primary thoughts aren't necessarily correct. That's what BALI taught me: to push past my subconscious judgments and see people as they present themselves. That being said, it is crucial to put your best self forward so that others will have something to work off of. Look for the positivity within other people; look for the positivity within yourself."

"Valerie inspired me to be a leader because she taught us that we need to be able to break up with fear and that helped a lot. It showed that you can achieve anything that you can think of. There will always be fear and self doubt holding you back. You need to "break up" with fear or else you will miss so many chances and opportunities that can change your life for the better. She also taught us that after you break up with fear, you need to know what you want for the future and who you want to be. It needs to be as specific like as a blue Lamborghini. How are you supposed to plan for something you want if you don't know what exactly it is?"

--Lisette Dubow, 12th Grade, Princeton High School

-- Noholee Rahman, 8 8th Grade, The Scholars Academy

Daysi Martinez

Isabela Batista

Class of 2010

Class of 2014

A graduate of the BALI class of 2010 and the Rutgers University class of 2016, Daysi Martinez is a woman well accustomed to using her BALI knowledge in the real world. Daysi graduated from Rutgers with a degree in Finance and Global Business Management, and is currently a commercial real estate analyst at Citigroup. She is also the Director of Immigration for Action Together New Jersey, where she uses her passion for justice and her own experiences as a DACA recipient to create change. Daysi was interviewed on Univision on November 22 of this year to discuss her advocacy. In the interview with, Daysi discussed the urgency of getting NJ Congressional Representatives like Chris Smith, Rodney Frelinghuysen, Frank LoBiondo, and Leonard Lance to co-sponsor a Clean Dream Act for over 800,000 immigrant youths across the nation that face an uncertain future. Daysi has coordinated efforts to unite supporters and persuade Congress to stand up for a path to citizenship for undocumented youth. Most recently, her activism took the form of participating in a hunger strike for four days under the hashtag #Fast4CleanDREAM. Daysi’s next endeavor will be pushing for New Jersey to be the 13th state to grant undocumented immigrants the opportunity to get drivers licenses.

Isabella Batista, trainee of the class of 2014 and an intern for the class of 2015, has used her BALI skills frequently over the past few years, using them to break barriers, and encourage other girls to keep an open mind. Isabella is currently a student at the University of Vermont studying sustainable design, a field, she says, is something she felt would allow her to give back to her community while breaking barriers in the male-dominated field of agriculture. She is immensely grateful for BALI, and the lessons she learned. One of her most special memories came during her year as an intern, when the class was expressing their gratitude during one of the last sessions. Isabella remembers talking about her new friends and her thankfulness for learning to be a better communicator, more confident, and able to grow with girls who felt a similar way. The opportunity was so special to her because it showed the sense of community that BALI fosters for all its participants. Isabella could see that, although many of the girls would be going their separate ways, they had grown together, which was an experience she is forever appreciative of. Isabella encourages alumnae today to have a broader perspective in the world and to use newfound knowledge to propel social change. She is determined not to stop at agriculture, but to also support efforts of social change. She has been inspired by a student speaker Julia Overton-Healy. Isabella says that Overton-Healy, a doctor who runs the women’s center at Adelphi University explained that girls “shouldn’t climb the corporate ladder, but go around it.” Isabella believes that Julia Overton-Healy was challenging them to take paths in life that would allow them a larger scope of the world, something she has absolutely integrated into her own life. Isabella encourages all BALI alumnae to “be proud that you come from such a strong community of girls,” and to “take what BALI gives you, go into the world and use it.” 9

Mikayla Holmgren is the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in a state Miss USA Pageant Original Article from Huffington Post, by Alanna Vagianos

“I was super shocked, I was in tears,” she said. “I went from a special needs pageant to the biggest pageant in the world. It’s kind of crazy.” Holmgren’s mother, Sandi, told CBS News that she’s proud of her daughter for forging a new path. “She’s going to be a leader and [she] stands firms for others that don’t maybe know how to achieve things,” she said. Holmgren, who has been dancing since she was 6 years old, performed a dance routine for the pageant’s talent portion.

On Sunday night, Mikayla Holmgren made history during the Miss Minnesota USA Pageant, as the first woman with Down Syndrome to compete in a state Miss USA Pageant. Holmgren performed a dance routine for the talent portion of the show, and was shocked and excited to win two awards. The 22 year old was given the Spirit of Miss USA Award and the Director’s Award.

Mikayla’s participation in the show inspired many; her mother, a classmate, audience members with down syndrome, and herself. Her success in the the show presents an important lesson on inclusion and representation. When we see more of ourselves accurately portrayed in pageants, on TV, or in movies, it allows us to break stereotypes and show the world who we really are.

The awards were presented by the executive state director of the Miss Minnesota Pageant, Denise Wallace Heitkamp, who told Mikayla: “You exude the spirit of Miss USA by always being true to yourself and putting others first,” Heitkamp said, according to Pioneer Press. “You have selflessness, humility and the ability to overcome obstacles with a smile on your face and excitement in your heart” Holmgren, who competed in the special needs pageant Minnesota Miss Amazing in 2015, told BuzzFeed that she was overwhelmed to be participating in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.


(CW: Sexual Abuse) Alyssa Milano Calls for Action on Sexual Abuse on Social Media, with #MeToo Campaign Original article from Huffington Post, by Ed Mazza

In response to the many recent accusations of sexual abuse against prominent Hollywood figures by popular actresses, Alyssa Milano took to twitter to spark a firestorm. The actress called on all women who were comfortable with sharing their status as survivors of sexual assault to share, using the hashtag “#MeToo.” black women, whose efforts and work are too frequently ignored. Despite the fact that the movement was popularized again last month, in October, it is important to highlight the importance of #MeToo, and the work of black women in feminist movements. #MeToo is still being used on Twitter, and since last month’s issue of The Bella Bulletin didn’t cover the ever-present issue of sexual abuse in Hollywood, and in the lives of women everywhere, it is important to discuss the issue now. The #MeToo campaign, which was created by a popular black female activist, Tarana Burke, is used to highlight the unfortunate prominence of sexual abuse for a large majority of women, and men as well. Burke, who says that she began #MeToo, “ as a grassroots movement to reach sexual assault survivors in underprivileged communities,” is often overlooked as the pioneer of the campaignmany people have never heard of her at all. As intersectional feminists, it is critical to analyze modern movements and ideologies; often times they are the work of women of color, especially

Remember that if you are indeed a survivor of sexual assault, you are not obligated to share your story, but if you decide to, there are communities, including your BALI family, who are here to support you no matter what the circumstances of your experience were.


Political Opinion Editorial: The Voices of our ALUMNI

Listening is Essential to Progress Maya Walborsky Leigh High School BALI Class of 2017 This past month, a few boys in my school’s marching band served a five-day suspension for positioning their saxophones into a swastika and taking a picture, and making death threats to a student who wanted to report them. Following the incident, a “free speech rally” planned by one of my peers was publicized through social media. When hearing about the event, I was confused. I thought the motive for the rally was to prove that it’s okay to allow hate speech -like Nazi symbolism and racial slurs -- around the school since it is technically “free speech.” The “rally” happened. It was simply a group of boys in my grade standing in a circle, and the leader was wearing a Trump flag and American flag sweater. Following the rally, I talked to the leader, who is also a friend of mine, to fully understand the motive surrounding it. He is explained it had nothing to do with the incident in the band. The reason for his “free speech rally” was to express that in our community, a liberal area of California, people do not even listen to what conservatives have to say. Many democrats will immediately shut them down, or refuse to listen when they begin to speak. After his explanation, I could understand and justify his reason. He also handed out fliers that said, “It’s okay to be white.” After first period, the principal confiscated them because they were “racist.” Before having him justify his reasoning to me, I thought the fliers were just meant to provoke minority groups at my school. He explained that handing out those fliers was a test. If a minority group were to do the same but with their minority (he is Persian by the way) then nothing would have happened. They would have probably been applauded. I agree that the fliers were a bit much, especially with some of the hate speech coming from conservative white men, but at the same time it proves

a point that there is no double standard. Even something as harmless as these filers -- if they are associated with white people -- they will be removed from institutions, without being given a chance for an explanation. As a feminist, liberal, and resident of the Bay Area, I am definitely guilty of ignoring those with more conservative view points. Even though I may not agree with everything, listening is important. The purpose of free speech is to learn from each other’s point of view, and make things better. If both sides of the argument don’t open their mind to different ideas, then no change will be made. Free speech events on college and school campuses being shut down does not help our democratic process (if it isn’t hate speech). I have been making a conscious effort to listen to my conservative peers, and consider the points they make. It’s a rich learning experience for both sides.

#FreeCyntoiaBrown Johanna Martinez Phillips Exeter Academy BALI Class of 2017 As a nation, we need to redefine what justice means. I am months away from turning 16 years old. Cyntoia Brown was also 16 years old when she was convicted in 2004 for first degree murder. Today, she has spent 13 years in a jail cell and will be allowed parole when she reaches the age of 69. I can’t possibly begin to imagine what Cyntoia has gone through or what lies ahead due to an unfair justice system which often persecutes people of color and other marginalized groups. At the young age of 16 she was sex-trafficked by a pimp named “cut throat” and later picked up and raped repeatedly by a 43 year old child predator. Being a victim of sexual assault is hard enough, and often leaves the person feeling powerless and voiceless. Mustering up enough courage to speak up or even take action seems almost impossible. Somehow, Cyntoia Brown managed to fight back and shoot and kill the 43-year-old man who 12

drugged and raped her. Instead of the justice system doing their job and prosecuting the various men that raped her and bringing real justice, they convicted the victim as an adult and sentenced her to life in prison. The system is set up to disadvantaged people of color and victims of sexual assault. Justice is often not served for these victims who have gone through so much, but the case of Cyntoia Brown has taken this to a whole other level. Even though her story recently caught attention on social media under the hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown, she has unfairly been in prison for over a decade now. This is only one story of why justice has been ignored when it comes to sexual assault victims and people of color, but sadly, there are insurmountable other examples like Cyntoia’s. As a nation, we need to come together and take sexual assault more seriously and truly convict those at fault – not victims who courageously fight these rapists.

As I write this, I am on day three of my hunger strike to pressure our representatives to support the Clean Dream Act. However, earlier this week, we received news that the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill called for a record breaking $6.7 billion for ICE to perform its mission of carrying out deportations and making arrests. Increases like this in Trump’s deportation machine will result in more families separated and more empty seats next Thanksgiving. On February 13, 2017, you promised “access to driver’s licenses for all and access to financial aid for Dreamers.” I urge you to keep your promise and ensure that these issues are central to your administration. Further, I ask that you openly support Assemblywoman Quijano’s upcoming bill that will establish driver’s licenses for NJ’s undocumented residents – “New Jersey Safe and Responsible Drivers Act.” The provision of a driver’s license can help these families avoid deportation.

An Open Letter to Phil Murphy

The benefits: • Decreases fatal accidents • Fewer risky uninsured and unlicensed drivers on the road • Improves the NJ Economy by adding $245MM of new insurance payments • Reduces insurance premium payments for all Provides additional revenue of $5.2MM to $9.5MM in license fees in the next 3 years Provides additional revenue of $7MM in new registration fees in the next 3 years • Improves trust in communities and makes them safer

Daysi Martinez-George Rutgers University / Citigroup BALI Class of 2010 Letter to Phil Murphy: I am one of the 800,000 Dreamers, nationwide, and one of the 22,000 Dreamers in our beloved state of New Jersey. I want to thank you for making your views on immigration public during your campaign. I have volunteered for your campaign through Action Together New Jersey and recently held a Town Hall for New Jersey’s Legislative District 33, along with my husband, in support of Democratic Assemblyman Raj Mukherji.

Please make New Jersey the 13th state to implement driver’s licenses for all and make our immigrant population less vulnerable to deportation and our roads safer. Regards, Daysi Martinez-George

Thank you so much to our contributors this month! 13

Featured Article of the Month These sexual assault scandals are horrific. But they’ve made me feel safer. By Sarah Gosling, contributor to The Guardian November 20, 2017

1‘When I’m walking alone at night I will have wolverine claws of keys in my hand; will have established how to incapacitate with a heel and then leg it.’

Spacey. Westwick. Hoffman. Seagal. Blaine. CK. Weinstein (Harvey and Bob). Affleck (Casey and Ben). The list goes on. In the past few months, seemingly half of Hollywood and half of government have stood accused. Since the New York Times and the New Yorker exposed Harvey Weinstein’s behaviour, the floodgates have opened as more and more women have felt that finally here was the chance they needed: to make accusations about the wolf without being told they were just crying. In all the conversations that I’ve had with men about what I’m terming “man-fear”, I’ve heard the same comment time and again: “It can’t be that bad”. Women can’t be scared all the time, can’t be constantly looking over their shoulders, looking out for the next could-be predator about to graze their behind and “accidentally” squeeze while reaching for his

drink. Because not all men are like that you see. Well, thanks to this ongoing pile-up of scandals, all’s gone a bit quiet on the “it’s not all men” front. Now, instead of expecting to see news of a terrorist attack when the ding-of-doom comes from our phones, we all expect it to be the dethroning of yet another man we once admired, a childhood crush, a filmic father figure. With most women, my friends included, the very reasonable response to this has been to become more afraid of men. This is what our mothers warned us of: men are predators, and we need to be on our guard. I grew up with a mother whose customary warning was a happy “watch out for mad axe murderers!” – she felt darkly validated when an actual axe attack happened in our county 14

last year, and, half-joking paranoia satisfied, she’s barely mentioned them since. As a child, I spent a lot of time looking around rooms trying to establish what in there could fall, collapse, and subsequently kill me. Cheery. With such a light-hearted, jovial temperament, a mother worried about axe murderers and an overactive imagination, I’ve been paranoid all my life. Nowhere has this been more palpable than with my fear of men. To clarify, I’m not some weirdo who can’t have a conversation with a man. I’m good with men, can spot a creep, take a joke, and have a wonderful long-term boyfriend. I am very aware that not all men are despicable. But when I’m walking alone at night I, like almost every woman I know, will have wolverine claws of keys in my hand; will have established how to incapacitate with a heel and then leg it. Every strange man on the street is a potential attacker, and must be watched. It might sound insane to some, some men, but this is life for a lot of women.

Strange men on the street are potential attackers. It might sound insane to men, but this is life for a lot of women. Since all these allegations have surfaced however, I feel like my mum with her mad axe murderers. Now that the horror story turns out in some cases to be true, it’s like that movie moment when the monster from the shadows becomes real, and he’s just not as scary any more. If anything, he’s a little pathetic. Women

have always known that we should be wary of men, particularly men in power. It’s just that now everyone else does too. Men will finally back a woman’s allegations, cross the street and smile to let a woman know she’s not being followed. Major artists such as Drake and Architects’ front man Sam Carter will stop their gigs to call out perverts, because they know to look for this behavior. It feels as though not only will anything which does happen be taken far more seriously, but that with so many eyes trained to look out for the monsters lurking in the shadows, it’s going to be a lot harder for them to reach us. We’ve cried wolf, and finally the pitchforks are out and on our side. If that’s not at least a little reassuring, then I don’t know what is.

Critical Questions: 1) Has the media hurt or helped the sexual assault victims who have recently chosen to come forward about their experiences? 2) What is the best way to combat and prevent sexual harassment or assault in your everyday life? 3) How do we create a society that is accepting and trusting of sexual assault victims when they accuse their predators?


Headlines of the Month All Nations “Still In” Paris Agreement Despite President Trump’s Stance Political, business, civil, and non-governmental organization leaders from around the world convened at the UN Climate Conference in Bonn Germany (COP23) this November to discuss the future of international climate action and the goals of the Paris Climate Change Agreement. In attendance were several U.S. governors, mayors, and lawyers to reinforce the message that they were not in line with President Trump’s decision to leave the agreement, continually repeating the phrase “we are still in” during their speeches at the conference. Also announced at the conference in Bonn was that Syria will be signing the Paris Climate Change Agreement, leaving the United States, if its removal from the agreement becomes official, to be the only country not making this contribution to climate action.

one of the most well known being Danica Roem, now state lawmaker in Virginia and the first openly transgender candidate to be elected to a state legislature in the United States. Some other significant wins for women include Kathy Tran, one of the first Asian-American women to win a seat in Virginia, Sheila Oliver, the first African-American woman to lead the lower house of the state Legislature in New Jersey, Michelle Kaufusi, Provo, Utah’s first ever female mayor, and Jenny Durkan, the first female mayor of Seattle since the 1920’s

and first ever openly lesbian mayor in Seattle’s history. The 2017 election results have been used by many as a predictor for the 2018 midterm elections, in which voters will elect members of congress. Considering this year’s elections, and the overwhelming increase in women who are interested in running for office, 2018 may see an improvement in female representation for our government.

Bipartisan Effort in Senate to Strengthen Gun Control A Win for Diversity this Election Day On November 7, elections for several special, state and local elections were held in New York, New Jersey, Virginia, Ohio, Utah, and Maine. This year was a landmark year for women running for office,

In a model of bipartisan collaboration, senators Chris Murphy (D-CT), John Cornyn (R-TX), and six others on opposite sides of the partisan spectrum spearheaded the Fix NICS Act, legislation meant to strengthen gun control. The act is specifically directed at improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in light of the 16 mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on

November 5th. The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley since the Air Force failed to report Kelley’s past behavior to the national database, he was able to purchase the knockoff service rifle that he used in the attack. The Fix NICS Act would further enforce

voting, and using violence to silence those against him, tensions surrounding Mugabe’s presidency have been rising for a long time. Early this month, Mugabe decided to fire his vice president, Emmerson Mnangagwa, so that his wife, Grace, could succeed him. Organizations that represent Zimbabwe’s veterans that supported Mnangagwa staged a military takeover in response, eventually forcing Mugabe to resign. Mnangagwa has since been sworn in as Zimbabwe’s new president.

Terrorist Attack in Sinai, Egypt the use of the database by implementing penalties and rewards for federal agencies based on how they use the database. The bill has been considered a landmark piece of legislation because its bipartisan support predicts its success in Congress.

On Friday, November 24, 235 people were killed and 109 injured in a terrorist attack on a Sufi mosque in northern Sinai, Egypt. The attack on the mosque involved the use of both explosives and several gunmen. No one has claimed responsibility so far,

After 37-Year Term, Zimbabwe Inaugurates New President On November 21, Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe resigned after having served thirty-seven years in the executive position, making him the world’s oldest head of state. Mugabe is credited with liberating Zimbabwe of white-minority rule, but after his heroic-like success, his presidency quickly began to resemble that of a dictatorship. By sacrificing the economy to maintain his power, preventing young members of opposing parties from

but most officials suggest the involvement of ISIS considering the extremist group’s outspoken wishes to eradicate Sufism. As usual in tragedies like these, civilian witnesses of the attack didn’t hesitate to become models of bravery and kindness by carrying the injured to safety, and gathering supplies from local pharmacies for hospitals quickly filling with victims. Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced three days of mourning for the country in a speech shortly after the attack. According to Sisi, “This act will only increase our will and unity.”


BALI Staff

Liz Abzug

Oriela Baliaj

Gabriela Valette

Founder & Executive Director

Senior Program Associate

Program Coordinator

BALI Board of Directors Liz J. Abzug, Founder/Executive Director Erica Forman, Board-Chair Meg Holzer, Secretary Cynthia McKnight, Treasurer Erica Forman, Chair Eija Ayravainen Gloria Steinem Joanne Davila Maya Catherine Popa Maya C. Popa

Claire Reed Harold Holzer Jonathan Greenberg Judy Lerner Liz Cooper

Betsy Scheinbart-Norton Jerry Goldfeder A.J. Lederman Kylie Reiffert Kai Gilchrist 18

The Bella Bulletin Staff Gisselle Rodriguez Benitez Editor-in-Chief School: Northeastern University Major: Economics BALI Class of: 2016 Email:

Wilma Abam-Depass Section Editor School: Croton High School Grade: 11th BALI Class of: 2017

Zoe Donovan Section Editor School: Bard Early College Grade: 11th BALI Class of: 2017

Adriana Rodriguez Section Editor School: Brown University Major: Political Science BALI Class of: 2016

for inquiries and suggestions, email




The Bella Bulletin November Issue  
The Bella Bulletin November Issue