Sen. Jackson and Dr. Hutchinson Receive Women of Achievement Awards
Dr. Hutchinson, Sen. Jackson, and Perie Longo (Photo: Rachel Sarah Thurston Photography)
By Lauren Bray, edhat staff
The 11th Annual Women of Achievement Awards honored Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Dr. Carrie Hutchinson as “Courageous Communicators” through their work addressing issues of social justice.
The local chapter of the Association of Women in Communications (AWC) held the luncheon last Friday, June 8, at El Paseo Restaurant in downtown Santa Barbara.
AWC member and columnist for the Independent, Starshine Roshell, emceed the event that strives to empower women to attain greater outcomes by acknowledging exemplary women leaders in communications fields. The organization states the "Women of Achievement Award recipients serve as inspirational role models for those wanting to further their careers in journalism, public speaking, writing, public relations and related disciplines."
Santa Barbara Poet Laureate Emeritus Perie Longo wrote personalized poems for each honoree and read them to the crowd.
Dr. Carrie Hutchinson is the Chair of the Communication Department at Santa Barbara City College, co-founder of the local chapter Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), and local chapter leader of Dining for Women. With a Ph.D. in Interpersonal and Intergroup/Intercultural Communication, she regularly speaks about social justice, particularly related to race, in professional settings as well as local protests.
After being introduced, Dr. Hutchinson was quick to state that she considered not accepting this award as there are women of color who do far more and get recognized far less. Her poignant speech quickly captured the attention of the crowd as she dove headfirst into the topic that makes white people squirm in their seats, race. Sensing the slight discomfort, she immediately addressed it by playing a short question and answer game pointing out the majority of the audience's white privilege.
"Look around you, Santa Barbara is not exempt," said Hutchinson referring to social injustice. She quoted that black students within the Santa Barbara Unified School District are 1.8x more likely to be punished than their white peers for the same incident. Latinx students are 1.3x more likely to be punished than their white peers for the same incident.
"It's good that you're uncomfortable, it's a measure of your humanity," Dr. Hutchinson said to the crowd. "I hope your anger is directed at the problem and not the person speaking about the problem, whether it's me or my comrades at Black Lives Matter." She encouraged the crowd to take action, stating it's not about what you feel but what you do.
Our local State Senator, Hannah-Beth Jackson was the next woman to receive her achievement award. She is a former prosecutor and practicing attorney, educator, and small business owner. From 1998 to 2004, she represented the 35th Assembly District in the State Assembly, where she worked with Democratic and Republican governors to author more than 60 bills into law. In the Senate, she is chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee and serves as a member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water, the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee and the Senate Public Safety Committee. She is immediate past chair of the California Legislative Women's Caucus.
Sen. Jackson gave an impassioned speech on equal pay for women, gun violence, the environment, and "kicking ass." She spoke to the women in the crowd encouraging them to take action. "Let's stop asking permission for equal pay," she said to loud cheers.
Most recently Sen. Jackson authored Senate Bill 358, the California Fair Pay Act, which was landmark legislation to strengthen California's equal pay law. She also co-authored Senate Bill 826 which will require every publicly-held corporation in California to have a minimum of one woman on its board of directors by the end of 2019, and two by mid-2021. That latter has caused some controversy and heated discussion from those who disagree, just read the edhat comments for an example. She responded by saying, "the kerfuffle this is creating is causing me tremendous joy, because it starts the conversation."
She borrowed the words of her friend Susan to sum up gender inequality by saying, "If you don't have a seat at the table, you're on the menu."
Overall she emphasized that every human being is entitled to and deserves dignity, respect, and the right to be who they want to be. A fitting tone that appears to embody AWC's mission.
Past recipients of this award include Lois Capps, Helene Schneider, Melinda Burns, Paula Lopez, and Lynda Weinman. The full list of past honorees is available here. Funds raised through the Women of Achievement Luncheon are used to underwrite networking and professional development programs for members of AWC-SB.
AWC Santa Barbara provides access to role models and leaders in the communication fields as well as access to scholarships, current trends and related research and technologies for our members. AWC-SB inspires members to assume leadership roles and /or work collaboratively with others in shaping a better future for themselves and their communities. Learn more about AWC-SB here.