UJC Summit - NYC

by Marilyn Brown

Discover a transformative journey from reluctance to empowerment in our latest blog post by Marilyn, our Business Specialist. A continuation of her last blog, The Level Up - Women's Empowerment Summit in Houston. Join us as we delve into her personal narrative of overcoming anxiety and insecurity to connecting with other social justice activists at a convention in the heart of New York City. Don't miss this inspiring blog of self-discovery and activism, showcasing the power of perseverance. Read on to continue to blog.


We got an invitation from a business advisor of ours to attend a social justice convention in New York. How exciting! Just two weeks after the Houston trip, I thought I was dreaming. The team got together to see who would go. After everyone’s consideration, they all declined. I was so sad because I had already made my mind up that I certainly wasn't going by myself. No way I could go to New York on a business trip by myself. Why? Because of my anxiety and insecurity, remember!? Well, this is when I thought about the exercise I did in Houston about being more social. I had vowed to myself that from that day forward, I would constantly look for ways to improve in this area. Then I figured, what an opportune time to go to New York and be social! At that point, I was geeked up and ready for the challenge. Candice helped me prepare and I was on my way. 

It was a one-day, all-day event. After reveling in what a beautiful, sunny, Saturday, December morning it was in Times Square New York, I was ready to get down to business. I was there to get word out about our program and how we’re a permanent solution for those who have experienced incarceration. There were several different topics being discussed. Police brutality, mental health, criminal justice, probation and parole, civic engagement, and a video about inhumane conditions in prisons in the South. 

 I want to be transparent about my ignorance of such issues. Before working for the YWCA, it wasn’t that I wasn’t aware of these issues, I just wasn’t interested in learning about how it was affecting people of color. So, I didn’t dig deeper. Now that I’m working for the YWCA, I’ve been interested in learning about these issues and I must share that it’s been sad, depressing, and a bit scary. To the point where I wish I hadn’t started learning about it. 

Each topic had a group of panelists discussing one of the issues, how it’s affecting them, and what they’re doing to make changes around it. The group that stuck out to me the most was the one centered around police brutality. Each guest told a story about how they lost a loved one due to police brutality. What inspired me the most was to hear about their plan of action. It was amazing to see how they didn’t give up even when going against one of the most powerful entities that exist. 

Overall, I appreciated all I learned in New York. I realized that as a woman of color, I have work to do in helping raise awareness around these issues as well as seeking solutions in fighting for justice. This is exactly what the YWCA mission stands for. I also appreciate the YWCA Mclean County for all the opportunities I have been afforded. Forever grateful!