Meet our 2019 honorees, bold and resilient women leaders dedicating their lives to advance justice in our time.


Stacey Abrams

Stacey Abrams is an author, serial entrepreneur, nonprofit CEO, and political leader. She is the first black woman to become the gubernatorial nominee for a major party in the United States. In 2018, after serving for 11 years in the Georgia House of Representatives, including seven as Minority Leader, Abrams became the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia, winning more votes than any other Democrat in the state’s history. Over the course of her career, Abrams has founded multiple organizations devoted to voting rights, training, and hiring young people of color, and tackling social issues at both the state and national levels. She is the author of a guidebook on leading from the outside and making real change and also eight romantic suspense novels under the pen name Selena Montgomery. She is a recipient of the John F. Kennedy New Frontier Award.


“We are a mighty nation because we embedded in our national experiment the chance to fix what is broken. To call out what has faltered. To demand fairness wherever it can be found. And this is why we fight on.”


Shifra Bronznick

Shifra Bronznick is seeking to transform the world by connecting the ideals, ideas, and actions of four waves of feminists. She is a strategist to social sector networks, organizations, and leaders. As Founding President of Advancing Women Professionals, she has supported hundreds of women in cultivating their full potential and advancing systemic change. The groundbreaking initiatives Shifra launched include the Better Work, Better Life paid leave campaign and Men as Allies. The leadership consultant to the White House Project for a decade, she is the co-author of Leveling the Playing Field and was chosen three times by The Forward as one of the 50 most influential Jews. She is a Ford Foundation Public Voices Fellow and teaches strategic leadership to the EMPA graduate students of NYU Wagner.


“Sometimes you ride the wave of change; other times you face the abyss. It’s a leap of faith to lead. Yet when we listen to our beating hearts, we will know the way, and we will go together.”


Paulina Helm-Hernández

Paulina is a queer artist, trainer, political organizer, and strategist from Veracrúz, Mexico, who has made the US South her home for more than two decades. For eleven years, she was the co-director of Southerners on New Ground, a social justice advocacy organization supporting LGBTQ people in the US South. Prior to that she coordinated the Southern regional youth activism program at the Highlander Research and Education Center. Paulina has a background in farmworker and immigrant/refugee rights organizing, anti-violence work, and gender and sexual liberation work that centers people most affected by poverty, war, and racism. Paulina is always exploring ways to deepen political unity with people and institutions willing to demand and organize for collective liberation.


“Our spiritual imperative in this time is to resource and develop leadership and organizations that are deeply trustworthy and accountable to the communities we come from. We need leadership as a verb, coming from people guided by legacy, lived experience, and rigor.”


Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology while teaching girls confidence and bravery through coding. A lifelong activist, Saujani was the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. She is the author of three books, Brave, Not Perfect, Women Who Don't Wait In Line and the The New York Times bestseller Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World. Reshma lives in New York City with her husband, Nihal, their son, Shaan, and their bulldog, Stanley.


“Every moment is a chance to choose bravery over perfection, to follow the path that’s right for you - no matter how intimidating or challenging.”


The Rev. Winnie Varghese

The Rev. Winnie Varghese is a Senior Priest for Trinity Church Wall Street. She is the author of Church Meets World, editor of What We Shall Become, and is a prolific writer and blogger of numerous articles and chapters on social justice and the church. Before coming to Trinity, Rev. Varghese was the rector of St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery, a historic Episcopal congregation in New York City. She is the former Episcopal Chaplain at Columbia University and UCLA and previously worked with the Mental Health Association of Los Angeles as an outreach worker to people who were homeless and living with severe mental illness.


“It is important that we understand the power we have to bear witness to movements of resistance. We must use the platform of the pulpits to form the imagination of this nation in the image of wholeness and justice for all.”

Auburn Conversation


Emma Goldberg, Moderator

Emma Goldberg is a writer and feminist activist. As a journalist, Emma has reported for outlets including the The New York Times, Salon, Elle, ESPN, USA Today, and Haaretz. Emma currently serves as Chief of Staff at Longpath Labs, a think tank focused on countering short-termism. Previously, she worked in the Office of the Executive Director of UN Women, where she led a storytelling initiative and promoted engagement with grassroots communities including youth and survivors of sexual violence.