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YWCA celebrates women’s achievements; Cano-Morales, Hay honored

September 26, 2013

Central Falls native Anna Cano-Morales, right, is congratulated by YWCA Rhode Island President/CEO Deborah Perry during the ninth annual awards luncheon Thursday. (Photo/Ernest A. Brown)

LINCOLN — YWCA Rhode Island Thursday honored 12 “Women of Achievement,” including Woonsocket’s Jacqueline L. Dowdy, Sally Ann Hay of Lincoln, and Central Falls native Anna Cano-Morales at its ninth annual awards luncheon at Kirkbrae Country Club.

Among the honorees was Quota International in Woonsocket and Pawtucket/Central Falls, which was recognized as Organization of the Year.

Since 2005, YWCA has sponsored this statewide recognition of women whose accomplishments span the fields of industry, culture and public service. This year’s recipients are a diverse group that includes a nurse, a nun, a veteran state worker, a major in the Rhode Island Air National Guard and a service organization, originally for women, that has been around for 94 years.

Cano-Morales, a Central Falls native, chairs the Central Falls School District Board of Trustees. She served on the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education from 2008-11, and on the executive board of the University of Rhode Island Foundation from 2009-12. During a decade as associate vice president for grant programs at the Rhode Island Foundation, she led the Hispanics in Philanthropy initiative. Currently the director of university relations and of the Latino Policy Institute at Roger Williams University, she also has served on boards for Gateway Healthcare, the R.I. Latino Political Action Committee and R.I. Civic Fund. She and her husband, William Morales, have two sons and live in North Providence.

Dowdy has served as member advocate/ombudsman for Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island since 2008, responsible for ensuring that members’ needs are being met and appropriate services are available to them. Previously, she was Neighborhood’s manager of substitute care and was the coordinator of school-based health for Thundermist Health Center, Woonsocket. She is the adoptive mother of three girls ages 16, 10 and 9 years old; a member of St. James Baptist Church, where she is the director of community outreach; and a member of Rhode Island’s Global Waiver Task Force and DCYF’s Advisory Committee. She has a master’s degree from Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, New York, N.Y.

Hay is a retired social worker who has used her career skills in volunteer work she now pursues. She says she is most proud of being active with Options, Rhode Island’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender news magazine; helping to create and later co-chair Equity Action, a LGBT philanthropic field-of-interest fund at the Rhode Island Foundation; being a founding member of the McAuley Village Women’s Circle, and helping to lead SAGE/Rhode Island (Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders).

Originally from California, she now lives in Lincoln with her partner, Deirdre Bird.

Quota International in Woonsocket and Pawtucket/Central Falls was founded in 1919 and is one of the oldest international service organizations for women. Today, membership also includes men and youth in North America, South America, the Caribbean, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia and Europe. Its focus is on disadvantaged women and children and hearing-impaired persons in communities around the world.
The Woonsocket organization held its first meeting on March 15, 1933, and continues to stay active in the community, raising money to support local and international projects and charities.

Among its special local projects are free hearing screenings, accomplished at an annual Health and Hearing Fair.

The Pawtucket/Central Falls club’s focus is on disadvantaged persons, specifically through service to the YWCA’s Sarah Frances Grant Homestead in Central Falls, a residence for homeless disabled women in transition.

In the past year alone, the club has provided service to the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket, made donations to Books are Wings, Slater Park Winter Wonderland, Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Backpacks to Fight Hunger, Edesia - Global Nutrition Solutions , CASA and more. Members also donate community service hours to numerous organizations.

The other “Women of Achievement” recipients honored yesterday are:

* Major Lynne B. Hannon, a full-time logistics officer with the 143rd Airlift Wing, R.I. National Guard.

* First Lady Stephanie Chafee, a Rhode Island native.

* Sister Ann C. Keefe, of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Springfield, Mass.

* Eileen Hayes, president and CEO of Amos House.

* Cheryl A. Burrell, employed by the State of Rhode Island for more than 33 years.

* Letitia Carter, a volunteer who opened the Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol.

* Julie A. Rawlings, minority outreach specialist for Lifespan, serving as the liaison to community members and agencies with a focus on underserved populations. In five years, she has expanded outreach to communities and individuals, helping the hospital system improve the health of Rhode Islanders. As a result of her work, she was appointed by Dr. Michael Fine, director of the state Department of Health, to serve on the Commission for Health Advocacy and Equity, and by Gov. Lincoln Chafee to serve on the Rhode Island Healthcare Reform Commission. She is committed to eliminating health disparities and increasing access to care for Rhode Islanders.

* Angela Romans, a lifelong educator whose career focus has been on increasing college readiness, access and success for underserved youth.

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