Summit Speakers

Westchester Women’s Summit 2014: Feminist Leadership for Social Change Speakers

Sarah HenkelRev. Sarah Henkel is the Cross-Cultural Network Coordinator for Hudson River Presbytery, the regional body of Presbyterian churches that includes Westchester county. She resides in White Plains where she serves as Parish Associate for Outreach for the White Plains Presbyterian Church. In both professional roles, Rev. Henkel sparks passion in faith communities to connect to the diverse stories of the people in their neighborhoods so that “walls become tables” through vibrant and committed cross-cultural relationships. Her work consistently draws her back to the land, to community gardening projects and sustainable food initiatives that draw together people from diverse segments of the community through a shared need for and the capacity to grow healthy food.

1043917_10201123045894948_1105001639_nJuanita O. Lewis, of Yonkers, New York began her work as a community organizer with the Minnesota chapter of ACORN. Since 2004, she has worked on numerous electoral campaigns at the city, state and federal level.

She currently is the lead Westchester organizer, for Community Voices Heard.  Community Voices Heard is an 18 year old statewide community organizing and policy group.

Lewis was born and raised in Saint Paul, MN. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a B.A. in History and Political Science, and with her Masters degree in Advocacy and Political Leadership Degree from the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Beth MountBeth Mount has worked for 40 years toward the ideal that every person with a disability can be a valued member of community life. She has practiced the art of person-centered planning with thousands of people with disabilities and their families from every walk of life and from every corner of the world. Her groundbreaking work related to Personal Futures Planning promotes the positive futures and images of people with disabilities throughout the globe, and demonstrates that all of us count and all of us fit somewhere.

Living in New York City since 1990 she engages with young people in transition from high school, while she also works extensively with numerous provider organizations to lead organizational and social innovation. She designed and leads a variety of Learning and Leadership Institutes that facilitate innovation and integrate Theory U methodologies into planning with individuals, families, regional networks and government agencies. Beth is well-known for her commitment to developing direct support professionals as allies and activists in inclusion through Everyday Heroes and Make a Difference Projects.

Beth uses art and creativity to strengthen collective capacity to learn with and include all people in wisdom making. Her art work and community initiatives have been featured in a variety of art museums and venues. She has collaborated on more than 100 multimedia publications and artworks that tell the story of imagining and implementing positive futures for people and their communities.

Recent museum exhibitions include “Journey to the Beloved Community; Story Quilts by Beth Mount” at the Telfair Museum in Savannah, Georgia, and the “Threads that Bind; Story Quilts by Beth Mount” exhibit at the Tifton Museum of Arts and Heritage. Goggle search “Beth Mount +Person Centered Planning” to verify references that continue beyond 200 pages, and show the scope and variety of references to her work. For more information visit or A TEDx talk: Beth Mount: Beautiful Justice is available at:

Feminism: Then and Now Panel Speakers

ZelleAndrewsDr. Zelle Andrews: Zelle’s biography was included in the 2006 book Feminist Who Changed America – 1963-1975 by Barbara Love, University of Illinois Press. The comprehensive directory documents “founders and leaders of the second phase of the women’s movement with stories of those who reignited the women’s movement and made permanent changes to entrenched customs and laws.” In the early 70’s Zelle (BA1960, Wheaton College; MA 1968 and PhD 1975, University of Hawaii) was a co-founder and president of Hawaii Women’s Liberation, founder of the Women’s Political Caucus, co-founder of the Honolulu chapter of the National Organization for Women and was appointed by the Governor to the Hawaii State Commission on the Status of Women. She continued her involvement with NOW after her move to Westchester, NY, becoming president of the New York State NOW. From 1980-1985, she was a member of the national staff of the United Church of Christ in Washington DC, during which time she advocated on Capitol Hill for ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. She returned to Westchester where she continued her work for women’s rights and became the city’s liaison to the lesbian and gay community. In 1998 she was named Westchester’s “Woman of the Year” in recognition of her decades of work for women’s rights.

PraisePraise Mkandawire is currently studying at WCC while doing a GAP Year between high school and college with the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute. Through the 2013-2014 academic year, Praise has apprenticed with two non-profits, African Services Committee in Harlem, NY and WESPAC Foundation in White Plains, NY. She has been facilitating and speaking at various high schools and colleges on topics such as:   feminism, homophobia, racism, and empowerment. Most recently, she spoke at the Sarah Lawrence College Women’s History Conference and Manhattanville College.

Beth SmaydaBeth Smayda is a 30 year resident of White Plains and currently a City Councilwoman. Smayda is an experienced businesswoman, with extensive knowledge of municipal finance, and a community leader who brings expertise to the issues facing the City of White Plains today.

Leadership in our Community:

  • City of White Plains Common Councilwoman (January 2010 to present)
  • City of White Plains Common Council President (January 2012 to present)
  • Chair of the City Budget and Management Advisory Committee (January 2010 to present)
  • League of Women Voters of White Plains; President, Chair of City Budget Committee and Chair of City Government Committee
  • White Plains School District Annual Budget Committee
  • White Plains PTA Council; Chair of School Budget Committee and Chair of School Legislation Committee
  • PTA Jenkins Award Recipient
  • Coordinator of Habitat for Humanity builds in White Plains

Professional Experience:

  • Managing Director, The BondFactor Company (2011 to present)
  • Former Managing Director, National Public Finance Guarantee/MBIA
  • Former Assistant Vice President, Moody’s Investors Service
  • Former Senior Research Analyst, New York State Commission on State-Local Relations
  • Co-Founder, Board Co-Chair and Member, Northeast Women in Public Finance
  • Member, Municipal Analysts Group of New York


  • Master of Public Affairs, Concentration in Labor Economics and Economic Development; LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin
  • BA in Public Administration and Political Science, Minor in Economics; Augustana College, Rock Island, IL

Giving us a State of Westchester’s Women:

MaryJane ShimskyMaryJane Shimsky, a Hastings-on-Hudson resident since 1995, was elected in February 2011 to the Westchester County Board of Legislators.  She represents the County’s 12th Legislative District, which includes the villages of Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry, Hastings-on-Hudson and Irvington, as well as parts of unincorporated Greenburgh, including Edgemont and most of Hartsdale.

MaryJane is now serving her second full term as a Legislator. She chairs the Committee on Infrastructure, and has recently been named to the Committee on Transportation and Public Works of the New York State Association of Counties (NYSAC). She is also a member of the New York State Mass Transit Taskforce for the bridge replacing the Tappan Zee.

– See more at:

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