Meet six local female change-makers whose stories inspire
Author’s Note: When I first decided to do a series of profiles on inspiring local women, and announced that fact to my sphere, I was flooded with heartfelt recommendations. Two things were crystal clear from that tidal wave of a response: people never forget the remarkable women who have touched their lives, and there is no shortage of such women in Santa Cruz. What follows here is a look at six women—all trailblazers and dreamers in their own right—whose paths I have crossed over the years, and whose stories I just couldn’t forget. Now, I share their stories with you.
Amy Colton – It’s hard… But I had to do it.
On Jan. 19, 2009, after seven years of receiving routine mammograms—and seven years of getting normal results back—Santa Cruz County resident Amy Colton was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was the day Barack Obama was inaugurated as president; a day she had been looking forward to.
Her last mammogram picked up on some microcalcifications, which are harmless when scattered but potentially harmful when clustered, and led her doctors to do an ultrasound and biopsy. What the mammogram (and all of those before it) hadn’t detected were the three invasive tumors that had been there all along.
“My doctors told me those tumors were probably there for seven or eight years,” says Colton.
As she went through chemotherapy, Colton, who works as a registered nurse at Watsonville Hospital, coped by “finding out everything I could about breast cancer.” The more she read, the more she came across the words “dense tissue.”
Although she didn’t know it at the time, 40 percent of women receiving mammograms have dense breast tissue, according to the Radiology Imaging Network. While these women have five times the risk of developing breast cancer, mammograms are far less likely to catch it for them (75 percent of cancer is missed in women with dense tissue through mammograms alone, according to a January 2011 Mayo Clinic study).
Because both dense tissue and cancer show up white on mammograms, the former easily masks the latter. Yet 95 percent of women don’t know their breast density, according to Harris Interactive—largely because the mammogram result letters sent to patients don’t mention it. The letters sent to patients’ doctors do, in fact, mention the patient’s density, but only one in 10 women learn this information from their doctor, also according to Harris Interactive. Sure enough, once Colton knew enough to press her doctor for prior reports they had received, she found that they reported “extremely dense breast tissue.”
“To get a letter that says ‘your mammogram is normal, come back next year,’ but your doctor gets a letter that says ‘we can’t interpret the mammogram because the tissue is too dense’— it’s giving untruthful information to patients,” says Colton.
Colton learned of this issue when she stumbled upon the website Are You Dense?, an advocacy and information portal created by breast cancer survivor Nancy Cappello, who was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer after years of normal mammogram results.
A transcontinental friendship formed between Colton and Cappello, who had already succeeded in getting a breast density inform law passed in her home state of Connecticut. “I think I said to her once, ‘gosh I wish we had a law like that in California,’” remembers Colton. “And she said, ‘Why don’t you do it?’ I said, ‘Yeah right. Who, me? I don’t know anything about politics.’ She said she hadn’t either. She just did it. She found a senator who really listened to her and cared and made it happen.”
Enter Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), whose district includes Santa Cruz. After pushing for a breast density inform bill through various avenues, Colton entered it in Simitian’s “There Oughta Be a Law” contest and won.
Colton was soon running back and forth to Sacramento, holding meetings with countless senators, assembly members and legislative staffs, and testifying before committees and at press conferences. Suddenly, the self-professed “very shy and private” woman found herself acting as a very public poster girl.
“It is hard,” she says. “I had to go public in so many ways. I don’t like talking about my personal stuff, especially to people I don’t know. It’s difficult to relive the story.”
Why, then, did she do it? “I just couldn’t not do it,” she shrugs.
Despite passing the senate and assembly with broad bi-partisan support (votes of 35-to-one and 66-to-six, respectively), the bill was vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Oct. 9, 2011. Had it passed, the bill would have required mammogram providers to add two sentences to the result letters of women with dense tissue that explained that, although the results were normal, they may want to follow-up with their doctors about other screening methods. The California Medical Association and other physicians groups heavily lobbied against the legislation, arguing that the sentences would cause “panic” among women—a concern echoed by Gov. Brown in his veto message.
“Their big argument, which I find insulting and I think most women find insulting, is that it will cause panic and women won’t be able to handle it,” says Colton. “Have someone say the C word to you—that’s what I call panic. Finding out you have dense breast tissue just lets you know you should be more proactive about your breast surveillance.
“We’re just asking them to put it on the patient’s letter, as well as the one that goes to the doctor,” adds Colton.
Any day now, Sen. Simitian will introduce the second incarnation of the breast density inform law, Senate Bill 518. His “cautious optimism” is aided by the fact that, in the time since he and Colton raised the issue in California last year, similar legislation has passed or is pending in almost a dozen other states. New data detailing Connecticut’s results from their version of the law—which wasn’t available last year—will also help, he says.
Getting the bill passed is his “highest priority for the year”—his last before he terms out of the senate. And although Colton refuses any credit for it (she points to Cappello, instead, in whose footsteps she followed), Simitian says she is directly responsible for putting the issue on California’s radar.
“Amy Colton is a hero in my view,” he says. “This is someone who could have taken her own experience and simply walked away in anger or frustration. Amy Colton didn’t do that. Amy Colton thought it was important for other women to have access to the information that she did not have. She was up here at the capital on a regular basis, taking time away from her family and work to tell her story to anyone who would listen. It’s a deeply personal story she had to tell, and it wasn’t always easy or comfortable to tell it, but she found the strength time after time after time.”
For Colton, this fight isn’t about being a hero—if she could, she’d do it all anonymously. It’s about preventing any more women from receiving late breast cancer diagnoses. “It’s too late for me,” she says. “I’m doing this so it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
Eva Twardokens – Don’t be afraid of struggle—embrace it and work hard.
From the time she made the U.S. Ski Team as a teenager to when retired at age 29 in 1995, Eva Twardokens gave everything she had to skiing. On April 14, the Santa Cruzan will see her career come full circle when she is inducted into the U.S. Ski Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Seattle, Wash.
But the snowy sport defined her life even before she went pro: she grew up skiing the Reno slopes with her parents and began competing at the age of 8.
“My parents were very un-American in that way,” she says of her Polish mother and father, the latter of whom fenced for Poland in the 1952 Olympics. “They have a very Eastern Bloc view on athletics: ‘the child will stay in the sport they are doing because if they have their own choice, or if it’s not fun, they withdraw too early from something they are fantastic at.’ That was my dad’s theory. And I’m glad he did that because there were probably times I would’ve tapped out, and I would be thinking ‘I wish I coulda, I wish I woulda.’ But he got me to the point where I could either have a career on the U.S. Ski Team, or get a full-ride scholarship to any college I wanted.”
She opted for the former. After winning two events at the Junior Olympics at age 15, she made the U.S. Ski Team—an event that would catapult her already less-than-normal life as an up-and-coming teen skier into the realm of athletes where “normalcy” is a long forgotten luxury. “As a ski racer, it’s a 24/7 commitment,” she says, “because you’re either racing or training, and the time you get to go home and have a normal life—or try to—is five weeks, which goes by in a flash.”
But the hard work paid off, and Twardokens soon became known as one of the most consistent skiers of her day, winning six national titles, a bronze medal in the 1985 World Championships, and a world technical skiing championship. She also followed in her father’s footsteps and became an Olympic athlete, competing for the United States in the ’92 and ’94 winter Olympics.
“My father was happy that I’d become an Olympian,” she says. “He always said ‘Once you’re an Olympian, you’re always an Olympian and no one can ever take that away from you.’ That really stuck in my head.”
A desire for a more relaxed, “normal” life led her to retire in Santa Cruz in the mid-’90s. “I was ready to move on and be a part of something else in life,” she says. “I was ready to be invited to a party on a weekend and be able to go. I was ready for being normal.”
Today, Twardokens works as a dental hygienist and personal trainer, has become a “total geek” about health and diet, and finds solace surfing Santa Cruz’s iconic waves. But more than 15 years into her retirement, she says she is still decompressing from the experience. “It took a long time to learn to relax,” she says. “In fact, I’m still in the process.”
When asked if she misses it, an unequivocal “no” slips from her lips without a second’s hesitation. But then she pauses, and adds, “Well, I have to say this Hall of Fame experience has really made me reflect back. I miss the moments, I miss my friends, but it was damn hard work.”
The question “any regrets?” elicits another firm and quick “no.” This Olympian, and soon-to-be Hall of Famer, is proud that she stuck through the hardship to achieve her dreams—and she hopes other youngsters, especially girls, will do the same.
“It’s important as a young person to strive for something—just to strive for something,” she says. “Don’t be afraid of that struggle—embrace it and work hard, because it’ll make your life that much better.”
Keep up with Eva on her blog, skievat.blogspot.com.
Melissa McConville – Put your shoes on and go.
“In May 2011, She.Is.Beautiful—Santa Cruz’s pinkest 10k and 5k—will have a fun, safe and inspiring race environment. Women of all ages and abilities will be inspired to participate. This race will sell out and be a success.”
This was the note Melissa McConville, now 26, wrote to herself in fall 2010 when she first conceived of organizing a women’s-only race. The intentions she set soon came into fruition: the first annual She.Is.Beautiful “sold out,” with 500 runners turning up to run along the West Cliff Drive route. Fifteen percent of the proceeds benefited the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center, leading the nonprofit to rename its new meeting room after the race.
The 2012 installment, which will take place on Sunday, March 25, promises to be an even bigger hit for the local: she expanded the race to allow for 1,500 runners, and, as of press time, 1,325 had registered. Having participated in many races (including several half and full marathons) herself, McConville designed She.Is.Beautiful as a fun, empowering and welcoming alternative to the more serious runs out there, a task which she accomplishes, in part, by blasting girl power tunes, sprinkling the route with sassy and encouraging quotations, and urging participants to come decked out in pink.
We caught up with McConville to learn more about the idea behind She.Is.Beautiful.
The She.Is.Beautiful website says, “We all run for a reason.” What’s yours?
No matter what, if I have a bad day and I go on a run, in 20 minutes I feel totally better. On those really, really bad days, when running is the last thing I want to do, I just put my shoes on—my mom taught me that. If you put your shoes on and walk out the door, you’ll go. A lot of women can really vibe with that whole concept and feel the same way. No matter how chaotic your day was, you always feel better after a run.
What was the inspiration for the name, “She is Beautiful?”
Some people feel the most beautiful when they are super dressed up. I always feel the best about myself when I’m running. I think I can inspire people to have that same feeling.
Do you have any advice for women who are hesitant to try a race?
I think a lot of women are scared to try races, especially those that are mixed gender because it seems really intense and maybe [there is a fear that] the men are going to be so much faster. She.Is.Beautiful is a great environment for people’s first race. The aim is creating a space where everyone can push themselves, be themselves, and enjoy themselves.
What would you say to women who have the inkling to start something?
I think it’s really important to make sure it’s something you’re really passionate about, because it takes a lot of work. Then I would say research it and see if anyone is doing it in other communities. If so, give them a call or reach out to people who would relate and say ‘this is my idea, what do you think about it?’ Once you feel like it’s something you really, really want to do—just go for it. Start the process.
What’s on the horizon for you?
My future goals for this race-slash-“business” [are to] one, carry the She.Is.Beautiful race to one or more other cities or states; two, launch my workout T-shirt line “Unwavering Happiness” in April 2012 (think: self inspiring quotes meets a lot of sass); and three, spread more happiness, strength and confidence to women of all ages.
She.Is.Beautiful 2012 will take place at 8 a.m. Sunday, March 25 on West Cliff Drive. Registration is $30, open to all ages, and includes a goodie bag and T-shirt. The winner of both the 5K and the 10K will receive a $500 cash prize. Strollers are welcome. Fifteen percent of proceeds will benefit the Walnut Avenue Women’s Center. Learn more at runsheisbeautiful.com.
JP Novic – I speak up because they can’t.
More than 50,000 egg-laying hens were recently abandoned at a factory farm operation in Turlock, Calif., causing the nonprofit Animal Place to step in. More than 4,500 hens were rescued, making it the largest farmed animal rescue in California history. The hens are now being put up for adoption with the help of Santa Cruz-based nonprofit Center for Animal Protection and Education (CAPE).
The episode is reminiscent of another hen rescue CAPE was involved in— one that the founder and executive director, JP Novic, recalled vividly in a recent interview with GT. It was August 1995, and Novic raced alongside other volunteers to rescue as
many hens as possible from a closing egg operation in Gilroy, Calif.
“There was row after row after row of hens stuffed in,” Novic recalls. “There were thousands and thousands, jammed in together into little cages, stacked on top of one another, so the top ones were pooping on the bottom ones. A lot of them were sick.”
While the rescuers worked tirelessly at one end of the colossal barn, slaughterhouse workers haphazardly collected hens at the opposite end. “We could see the folks who were taking them to slaughter,” she says, pained by the memory. “They were yanking them out of the cages. There were feet left behind.”
Ultimately, though they couldn’t save them all, the assemblage of volunteers rescued several thousand hens and found homes for each. “That’s a memory I’ll never forget,” she says.
After 30 years of working with animals, and 20 at the helm of CAPE, Novic is brimming with potent memories like this one. To hear her retell them, it’s apparent that she has a story, and a place in her heart, for every animal that has crossed her path.
“Each one of them, their life is sort of dangling and you get them out—it’s such a great feeling,” she says, surrounded by her six adopted dogs in her Ben Lomond living room. A rooster crows in the yard below, where the rest of Novic’s 30 animals roam, including Helen the turkey, who visits classrooms and befriends local children, a pair of inseparable twin cats who each have one blue and one green eye, and—the undisputed scene-stealer of the lot—Rootie the pig. As the runt of his litter, Rootie was en route to a premature death when a passerby asked the farmer if she could take him. He is now 2-and-a-half years old, 300 pounds, and quite the character.
Rootie and Co. account for just a fraction of the 1,935 animals rescued by CAPE from shelters, factory farms, and slaughterhouses. The nonprofit partners with the Santa Cruz County Animal Shelter to help animals who are “having a hard time getting adopted” by finding them foster homes. Over the years, the organization has grown to have many other branches, including educational efforts, hosting events, producing documentaries and an online video series (called “Animal Eyes”), and much more.
Currently celebrating its 20th anniversary, CAPE is also gearing up for some physical expansions. The organization (which will remain based in Santa Cruz) has partnered with Animal Place to create a vegan community and animal sanctuary in Grass Valley, Calif., that will be up and running later this year. The 600-acre haven will be a completely sustainable model community where “the land belongs to the animals,” beams Novic. It will be called the Old Friends Animal Sanctuary—a nod to CAPE’s Old Friends hospice program, which puts animals who are at the end of their lives into foster homes. “We don’t put them up for adoption, we just provide them with this wonderful end of life care,” says Novic. “It’s a beautiful program.”
But what sets CAPE apart in Novic’s eyes is its commitment to “talking about a lot of the other issues that aren’t usually talked about,” like the use and treatment of animals in research, entertainment and the industrialized food system.
“The issue of what we eat—every single person makes that decision three times a day,” she says.
Just as she deflects any credit for CAPE and the work it has done (“There are so many people, so many volunteers out there doing all of the work,” she presses), Novic emphatically and inevitably redirects the conversation back to the animals and the issues they face. It is, after all, her life’s work to give them a voice.
Visit CAPE online at capeanimals.org.
Heidi Boynton – Listen to the true you.
“The kind of disorder I have is really a Molotov cocktail of blood disorders,” Heidi Boynton says matter-of-factly. “It’s not a clean disorder. They can’t look at it and say ‘That’s what this is, and we’re going to treat it this way and it will be done.’”
Boynton, 41, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) and aplastic anemia in 2002 and with paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH) in 2008. Incurable and extremely rare, it is something Boynton has simply learned to live with. (As if her petite body hadn’t gone through enough, she also had two bouts of skin cancer and ovarian cancer in the last 10 years.)
“Anyone who is dealing with any of these disorders knows that the fatigue is the debilitating thing—your blood count is so low,” she explains. “If you’ve ever felt burnt out, take that and multiply it by a thousand.”
But one peek at her day planner and you would never guess she grapples with fatigue, let alone a serious illness. In fact, contrary to feeling defeated by her diagnosis, she picked up triathlon racing and did two Iron Mans.
Those who meet her quickly pick up on her above average zest. Take for instance a local woman she was introduced to at a recent event: “She says to me, ‘Let me get this straight: you’re a triathlon coach, an Iron Man athlete, you’re a mom of two kids, you run a nonprofit, you run another nonprofit and you’re sick and most people would be in bed?’ And I go, ‘Yeah, and …?’ You could’ve dropped a pin on the ground and heard it.”
The encounter also embodies the serendipitous spontaneity that defines Boynton’s many endeavors—the woman happened to have a tattoo of an ampersand with the word “yes” in it, and so began a new women’s networking group called—what else?—Yes&. “It’s the whole idea that … yes I shouldn’t be doing that … and, what? I’m still going to do it,” explains Boynton. “It’s difficult. Yeah, and? They say you can’t do it. Yeah, and? Doctors say you should be resting. Yeah, and?”
Finding Sophia, the nonprofit she founded with friend Trish Ward in 2007, was also conceived of in a sudden flash of inspiration. The organization takes groups of 15 women to Mexico to build homes for single mothers. Their two open annual trips now fill up months in advance, but the founders also take private groups. She’s getting ready for the next trip on March 22, which will be her 46th house-building trip to Mexico in the last 16 years.
Her commitment to working with women traverses her various activities, including her involvement with the group 100+ Women Who Care and her “day job” training a 30-woman strong triathlon team for Mermaid Series, an organization that hosts all-women athletic events. In 2009, she co-founded the nonprofit Mini-Mermaid Running Club, a running club and after-school empowerment program for elementary school girls that is now at 18 schools in Santa Cruz, San Jose and San Diego.
“There are all of these ideas about what we should be, what we should look like, what we should have in order to do anything. And I challenge that constantly,” says Boynton. “What’s different about Mini Mermaids is … the curriculum is coming from a positive space, and that concept really came from my coaching with running. It’s the same thing I tell a 45-year-old: ‘What are you saying? Who is talking? Is it you—the true you? Or is it some manifested you that’s been nicked away at or beat up by someone else, or inflated by something you see that you think you’ll never achieve?’”
Instead of listing “things I’m good at” and “things I’m bad at” in their journals, girls are asked to list “things I know I’m good at” and “things I have the potential to be better at.” “It’s the language I’ve used in coaching,” Boynton says. “Yeah it’s tough. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be better at it tomorrow than you were today. Even just a tiny bit. Or even if you are worse at it tomorrow, it’s another day. You get to try again.”
And who better to drive that point home than someone who lives each day to the fullest, despite the odds stacked against her? (Did we mention that she organizes yearly “farm parties” for local farm workers and their families, gave a TedxSanta Cruz talk in 2011, and—no big deal—spoke onstage at a Jason Mraz concert last December?)
“Ninety-nine percent of what I do it’s like, ‘oh, wow! That worked out,’” she laughs. “Spontaneity is the first thing on my mind—I’m always thinking ‘that seems like a good idea!’ And then somehow, magically, beautifully, there are woven threads that I didn’t see. I try to see them, but I lead so much with my heart that it’s not until I look back that I see it—all of the things that I don’t see until after.”
Learn more at minimermaidrunningclub.org or findingsophia.org.
Rev. Deborah Johnson – Live life out loud
It has been 15 years since Rev. Deborah Johnson founded Inner Light Ministries, the omni-faith spiritual center in Soquel with the motto “take this consciousness and multiply it.” In that time, the church has grown from 50 people gathered in her living room to a congregation of around 3,000.
“I’m proud of us and our position in the community,” the reverend says. “We support many different groups and organizations. We position ourselves to be a place of honest discourse, of enlightenment and growth and transformation. We do things that are daring and cutting edge. It’s a place for all voices. And I like that.”
Johnson co-led a “Love as Activism” workshop in late January with author Andrew Harvey that will soon be available on video. In February, she and 70 singers from the Inner Light choir sang at Carnegie Hall, where they joined other singers to perform classically arranged Negro spirituals in honor of Black History Month. (They will be doing an encore performance on April 14 at the Mello Center for Performing Arts in Watsonville.) Also on her plate: she was recently named to the board of the Pachamama Alliance, a nonprofit that works with indigenous communities in Ecuador to protect the rainforest, and will be spearheading their social justice branch. Add to that the frequent 11-hour trips she has been making to a prison in Pleasant Valley for the last 12 years, the corporate trainings and think tanks she facilitates, and the vast resume of boards, activism, awards, books and more under her belt, and you start to get an idea of just how fully Johnson lives up to her potential.
But this wasn’t always the case. Although she has been a lifelong social justice activist, her path to becoming a spiritual leader was a long and reluctant one.
“I didn’t always want to be a reverend,” she says. “In fact I ran from it for a very long time. I got the calling when I was 15, but I told God my bargain was that I’d do something about it by the time I was 40. So the night before I turned 40”—here Johnson, who is now 56, pauses to chuckle at the memory—“I started the vision core [group] that turned into Inner Light.”
Making the leap, or “surrendering” to her life’s purpose, as she puts it, required leaving her successful career in corporate investments behind.
“It was very ego gratifying but it wasn’t soul satisfying,” she says of the work. “I enjoyed it, I was good at it, I was making good money … but I looked at my life and asked the question, ‘In my day job, am I doing anything that was actually making a difference?’”
She said farewell to the job and to Los Angeles, and landed in Santa Cruz on Halloween day, 1990. It was a few years still before Inner Light would manifest, and before she would fully realize the personal impact of her career change. “I finally started to get to a place of peace before I started experiencing the joy,” she explains. “When you’re running and you’re not being true to whatever it is that is your purpose in life, your spirit is not at rest. People experience it differently, but there is an uneasiness inside. A restlessness. People do all kinds of things to squelch that discomfort. And all of that just takes a toll.”
From accepting her destiny to fighting for change on various frontiers, Johnson has faced and overcome many obstacles. And as a gay African-American woman, she’s surfaced from the experience with plenty of insight for those hoping to do the same.
“When you’re the pioneer, when you’re in the front, and you are trying to nudge your way in, you have to be the best at what you do,” she says. Other than that, take care of yourself and “don’t isolate,” and anything is possible.
Pushing past the barriers and toward your calling will be worth it, because ultimately, she says, “life is meant to be lived out loud. Most people don’t fail because they don’t try.”
Learn more at Inner Light Ministries, 5630 Soquel Drive, Soquel, 465-9090, innerlightministries.com.
THERE’S MORE …
A list of noteworthy local orgs, groups and businesses for, by, and in support of women.
Walnut Avenue Women’s Center—A nonprofit dedicated to providing resources for women and their families.
303 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz, 426-3062, wawc.org.
Defensa de Mujeres—Seeks to alleviate domestic violence, sexual assault, and discrimination in a non-judgmental, culturally sensitive, empowering setting.
233 E. Lake Ave., Watsonville, 722-4532, wcs-ddm.org.
GEMMA—Provides a means for successful reintegration with society for formally incarcerated women.
501 Soquel Ave., Suite E, Santa Cruz, 457-4560, gemmasantacruz.org.
UCSC Women’s Center—Community space for university-related women’s events and concerns. Womenscenter.ucsc.edu.
Santa Cruz Women’s Health Center—The attention to detail and patient comfort of a private practice, with the affordability and efficiency of a non-profit clinic. Prenatal, infant, child and adult care is offered.
250 Locust St., Santa Cruz, 427-3500, scwomenshealth.org.
WomenCARE—Provides free advocacy, resources, education, and support for women of all ages and backgrounds living with cancer.
2901 Park Ave., Suite A1, Soquel, 457-2273, womencaresantacruz.org.
Women in Business—A group through the Chamber of Commerce whose purpose is to encourage and facilitate Santa Cruz women’s economic collaboration.
725 Front St., Santa Cruz, 457-3713, santacruzchamber.org/cwt/external/wcpages/interest-communities/women_in_business_n.aspx.
Santa Cruz Women’s Commission—Advisory board dedicated to the advancement of local women advocacy.
701 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 454-2772, sscwc.org.
SC County Chapter of Leads—Networking club specially designed for maximizing business opportunities and connections for women.
Kayla Garnet Rose, 435-5182, santacruzwomensleadsclub.wordpress.com.
League of Women’s Voters—A nonpartisan organization founded on the idea that a woman’s informed and proactive contributions to governmental processes is essential.
P.O. Box 1745, Capitola, 95010-1745, lwvscc.org.
Santa Cruz Chapter of the Women’s League of International Peace and Freedom—One of the largest and most active national branches of this international organization. Hosts a variety of events centered around local issues of justice and equality.
Quaker Meetinghouse, 225 Rooney St., Santa Cruz, 465-8272, wilpf.got.net
100 Women Who Care—Volunteer association in which local women are encouraged to advocate for the local nonprofit or charity organization of their choice to be awarded donations from club members
Drawing Hope, Santa Cruz Chapter—Local branch of international organization that uses art and community as a means of empowerment and healing for survivors of rape and sexual abuse. drawinghope.org. | Katie Lewin
Don’t Ms. This If you haven’t already caught a screening of the film Miss Representation, here’s your chance: the powerful documentary, which was written and directed by San Francisco’s First Lady, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, will be shown at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 21 at Good Shepherd Catholic School. The film explores the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence in America and the often skewed portrayals of women and girls in the media. The screening is free (as is on-site childcare), and will be followed by a Q&A with local experts. Good Shepherd Catholic School, 2727 Mattison Lane, Santa Cruz, gsschool.org. Check out the film’s trailer at misrepresentation.org.