Debra Gore-Mann

President and CEO

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Women’s History Month ignites a revolution of remembrance each year. We remember in order to resist against the onslaught of efforts seeking to relegate women and our progress to a bygone era. We dare to shatter the glass ceiling of intentional ignorance and call on society to not only look, but really SEE the women who made history and the ones who are making it today. It’s a rallying cry for recognition and respect and a testament to the indomitable spirit of women across the globe. This March, we raise our voices, rewrite the narrative, and reclaim our rightful place in history.

My revolution starts with honoring the immense contributions of women in The Greenlining Institute’s history. Since our inception in 1993, women of color organizers, activists, and leaders both within and outside the organization have been the driving force behind our mission to dismantle systemic barriers and achieve racial justice. The spirit and leadership of women have not only shaped Greenlining’s trajectory, but illuminated the path towards a future where every voice is heard and every individual can thrive.

The women in our lives and throughout Greenlining’s history show us what it takes to bring a future others can’t see into being. 

For women of color, bringing our complete selves to the many movements means facing and embracing the intersection of racism and sexism. And, it also means creating a more inclusive, more democratic, and more just movement for racial equity and social change. Understanding the barriers and injustices faced by women of color, queer people and queer people of color, disabled communities, low-income communities–and the various distinctions and overlaps that exist within these identity groups–is how we will reach the future we are working towards. Women of color have been leading that work for generations, blazing trails, breaking through glass ceilings, and carving out spaces so that more of us can have a seat at the table. 

Ortensia Lopez, a co-founder and current Board ex officio, is one of these trailblazing women. Ortensia was the only woman founding member of Greenlining whose fearlessness for breaking barriers and embracing her cultural heritage as a Latina woman in leadership helped redefine standards, inspiring change with unparalleled resilience and determination. And, her dedication to empowering low-income communities through coalition-building and partnership was crucial in defining Greenlining’s mission and purpose.

Growing up in a family that embraced love, faith, and a commitment to sharing their blessings with others, her family creed was simple: if one person is in need, we are all affected. This ethos resonated deeply with Ortensia at the time of the founding of The Greenlining Institute more than 30 years ago.

As Greenlining’s first woman of color CEO & President, I’m grateful to walk along the path Ortensia established, carrying on her legacy of bridge-building. As women of color know all too well, we are oftentimes challenged and questioned for our leadership. For me, I find strength and courage in Ortensia’s unwavering commitment to the work, and her lessons to always center our families and communities, and never deny our wisdom and joy.

We are both humbled and take pride in the contributions of Greenlining’s women leaders like Tunua Thrash-Ntuk and Noemí Gallardo, who exemplify the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in activism and leadership.

Tunua Thrash-Ntuk, a current co-chair of the board of directors and founder of the Greenlining Academy Alumni Association (GAAA), exemplifies our belief in the power of connection and community. Her extensive career in public service, including her recent election to the Long Beach City Council, has been focused on building better communities for those in greatest need.

Noemí Gallardo, our other co-chair of the board and former Leadership Academy Fellow, recently became the first Latina appointed to serve on the California Energy Commission. She continues to break barriers and pave the way for future generations of women of color in leadership roles.

These remarkable women–alongside the pioneering women-identified staff currently leading the way at Greenlining–represent just a handful of those who have contributed to Greenlining’s legacy of economic justice. This is not just a cause but a deeply personal struggle–a battle against systems that seek to silence and devalue us. As we confront the myriad of challenges facing women today, from the gender pay gap to attacks on reproductive rights, we urgently demand change. But this change is not merely about redistributing wealth–it is about fundamentally reshaping our conception of what is valuable.

Economic power is a gateway to liberation and a means of reclaiming agency over our lives. At Greenlining, we envision a future where economic prosperity and wealth is measured not solely in terms of profit but in terms of wellbeing, family, and community. It is a future where we have a just economy so that all may have what they need to thrive.

So, as we honor the women who have paved the way in our movements, we recommit to expansiveness in all that we do here at Greenlining and in our communities.

The future we are creating is vast–it is one that is inclusive and representative of all our identities, communities, and the ways we show up. Let us honor and celebrate our intersections and the ways they make our movements stronger.

Debra Gore-Mann

President and CEO

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