Community Conversations: Women and Girls

Our executive director, Wanda Steptoe, has been speaking around town about NEW and the population that NEW serves. In celebration of International Women’s Day, Wanda spoke at the Junior League of Washington’s Women’s Leadership Breakfast. Hundreds of women gathered at The Hamilton in DC to hear Wanda and three other prominent women speak about finding mentors, informing colleagues about your successes, the #metoo movement and the lack of women in leadership positions. One woman asked Wanda, “How can we help each other and work together if we bring different perspectives to the table?” Wanda answered, “Respect and value what each person brings to the table. And have an open mind.”

In March, Wanda participated in a Catalogue for Philanthropy panel called, Community and Conversations: Women & Girls. She spoke in front of dozens of people about the recent survey that found that one third of homeless women are homeless due to domestic violence.

“Our transitional program is meeting a need in regards to domestic violence,” Wanda said. “It’s why transitional housing is so important because it allows women to have time to address their issues and move forward.” There are so many challenges for these women, Wanda said. There are mental health and substance abuse issues on top of domestic abuse issues and a challenging GED. “We meet the women where they are and help them develop a plan to move beyond homelessness,” Wanda said. “For our women, the domestic abuse goes deeper and it takes a longer time for the women to gain our trust and unpack that trauma.”

Wanda also told the audience that in college she was inspired to pursue special education because she had a cousin with Down Syndrome growing up. Now as director of NEW, she especially likes being able to be in relationship with the people she serves. “If everybody put their time, talent, and money into their passion, the world would be a much better place.”

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It’s been a challenging time for all of us as we adjust our days, our budgets and our expectations to COVID-19. And now, add a city and country grasping for footing after the death of an unarmed black man by a white police officer and we all feel even more out of control, unstable, and concerned about the future. Here at NEW we know that one way we can process our own feelings is to think about the needs and feelings of others.

We need you. The women need you. Your community needs you. Now more than ever women and children in DC need a safe and stable place to live.