On Friday, March 12, 2021, the Hostos Division of Continuing Education and Workforce Development’s Center for Bronx Nonprofits (CBNP) held its third Annual Women’s Resilience Conference, now a must-do event for the Bronx. This year’s virtual conference captured the stories and courageous efforts of essential workers. Three keynote speakers working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic set the stage for 14 inspirational women representing government, education, and the arts. 

“The Women’s Resilience Conference is a chance to learn how women are impacting society in the urban landscape of New York City, during a time of unprecedented change, their stories are needed, and I was honored to have the opportunity to have these marvelous leaders at this year’s event,” Eileen Newman, CBNP Executive Director, said.

Newman introduced and welcomed Interim President Daisy Cocco De Filippis, who commented on the event’s significance. “It is very important to have forums like these ones. I thank the Division of Continuing Education and the Center for Bronx Nonprofits for engaging the community in the way they do, not only by training individuals but by creating spaces for the community to learn by storytelling and recognizing women,” Cocco De Filippis said.

The conference speakers also shared their unique stories, revealing their deep commitment and passion for the work they do. Eileen Torres, Executive Director of BronxWorks, explained how her organization, in response to the pandemic, increased their food pantry distribution initiative from twice a month to once a week. Dr. Judith Gil, Interim Deputy Director of Mental Health Services with the Children’s Aid Society, spoke about her experience providing mental health treatment and social work leadership support during this challenging time. Patricia Quinn, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit Nurse Manager and Assistant Director of Nursing for the Maternal Child Health at Lenox Hill Hospital, generated one of the most emotional moments of the morning when she spoke candidly of her experience on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. Idelsa Méndez, Hostos’ Development Manager, spoke about her activities organizing community and fundraising for the College’s Golf Outing, the CUNY Campaign, and student scholarships. Rosalba Rolón, Artistic Director of Pregones/PRTT, shared the history of Pregones Traveling Theater and its impact on the Bronx Community. Newman’s daughter, Sydne Didier, swim coach and activist,  described channeling her fear and rage into “Postcards to Donald,” which resulted in over 4,000 postcards of resistance sent to former President Donald Trump and his administration. The sharing segment closed with a beautiful poetry reading by author and public speaker, Zoe Flowers.

After the speakers, Amanda Septimo, a newly elected State Assemblymember, spoke one-on-one with Newman about her winning campaign and how to remain resilient in the face of challenges.

The Women’s Resilience Conference was bookended with music as attendees logged on to the sound of legendary female vocalists Aretha Franklin and Donna Summer and ended the day with a song by CBNP Meredith Minogue’s band, Violet.