by Zara Kornfeld
This Women’s History Month is different. Following the Women’s March on Washington, A Day Without Women, and International Women’s Day, the 13th Annual Women of Leadership and Vision Brunch on March 11 filled the Nyack Center with the smiling faces of women and men. The brunch was held in honor of Kim-Adele Rosner, Susan Yellen, and Charlene Weaver. NYS Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, Congresswoman Nita Lowey and Rockland County Executive Ed Day attended the event in support of our local women leaders. Their claps contributed to the boisterous applause that rang through the center.
“We celebrate to remind ourselves of who we are,” said Nyack Center Executive Director Kim Cross. “We celebrate to remember the women who have come before, and the price that they have paid,” said Cross. The Nyack Center helps families in our community by providing after school activities, transportation, nourishment, and more. Proceeds from the event benefited the Nyack Center.
In the spirit of honoring the next generation of leaders, Kaitlyn Holt was named the Young Woman of Leadership and Vision. Holt founded a club at her school called Girls Learn International, which, in Holt’s words, is a “feminist organization that empowers girls in our school, and donates to girls abroad that face different issues.” She thanked her dance teachers for being strong women themselves and for teaching her that “being feminine and beautiful, and being strong and powerful are not mutually exclusive.” One of the best lines to describe the day came from Holt. She voiced Girls Learn International’s motto: “Strong girls, strong world.”
Chair of the Women of Leadership and Vision Brunch Kim Adele-Rosner is a former board member at the Nyack Center who has continued her involvement at the center. “I’ve always found that caring for others is a great way to serve our community,” said Rosner. Cross called Rosner a “part of the fiber of Nyack.” A $500 contribution to the Nyack Center was made in Rosner’s name.
Nyack High School Living Environment teacher Charlene Weaver was also honored. Weaver is the advisor to the Indianettes, a Nyack High School girls dance group. The Indianettes have been a staple at Nyack High School football games for years, thanks to several decades of Weaver’s support and guidance. When she asked “for everyone in this room that I had in my class, or as an Indianette, or presently in my class, to please stand up,” the range of people standing spanned from kids currently in high school to fully grown adults.
Weaver talked about the important role which leaders play. “When I think of leadership, I think of guidance, I think of love,” she said. She made made it clear how much she cares for her community and her students, by adding just before she walked off the stage that “I love you, and there is absolutely nothing that you can do about it.”
Susan Yellen was recognized as a Woman of Leadership and Vision for her work as an attorney practicing matrimonial and family law. Yellen is the president of the Rockland County Women’s Bar Association. A leader in her field and in the Rockland community, Yellen is also involved with Women’s Bar Association of the State of New York, a group whose mission “…is to improve the lives of women, children, and families.” Her dedication to leadership and caring may have come from her personal philosophy. “Those of us who have the ability to help others, have the responsibility to do so.”
The event also honors previous generations of women for their bravery and leadership. This year’s Historical Woman of Leadership and Vision was Carson McCullers. The Nyack author best known for The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Reflections in a Golden Eye and The Ballad of the Sad Café. McCullers was born in 1917 and is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery. Actress Suzie Devoe read a portion of The Heart is a Lonely Hunter to commemorate the 100th anniversary of her birth.
One of the most important takeaways of that day was that women leaders are important. They inspire the next generation of Gloria Steinem’s and Malala’s. Women pave the way for other women, something that should be remembered now, and always.