Laura Penny Community Impact Award
The Laura Penny Community Impact Award was created in recognition of Laura’s incredible accomplishments as the Women’s Foundation of Southern Arizona’s CEO from 2004-2014. Laura was a true change maker, so in her name, this annual Award recognizes a woman leader from Southern Arizona who is making a difference in the lives of women and girls.
Congratulations to BOTH 2020 Recipients!
For the first time ever, TWO women have been selected as winners for this year’s Laura Penny Community Impact Award – and they’ll both receive $1000 for professional development!
The 2020 awardees are Joy Baynes, Nurse Practitioner at El Rio Community Health Center, and attorney Lauren Dasse, Executive Director of the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project. Congratulations to these outstanding individuals who are making a difference for women and girls every day in Southern Arizona.
Joy Baynes was awarded for her work in health care, as a champion of women’s reproductive rights, and as a clinician and activist for teen health for at-risk youth. “Joy is passionately compassionate, clinically excellent, and a tireless advocate for the marginalized and disenfranchised in our community,” wrote her nominator. Baynes’ passion is delivering care to at-risk teens, and she previously brokered a grant funded project in collaboration with Advocates for Youth, a non-profit organization and advocacy group based in Washington DC. Here in Southern Arizona, Baynes developed El Rio Community Health Centers Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP) for teens by forming relationships with nine organizations in Tucson serving youth who are homeless, living in foster care, involved in substance abuse treatment programs, involved in sex trafficking, or who were previously incarcerated. Under Baynes’ leadership, RHAP has developed a new teen hot line (520 AZ-SHINE) which is a youth specific hot line connecting teens with El Rio Community Health Center’s call center to expedite access to care.
Lauren Dasse was awarded for her work at the Florence Project, which aims to advance the efforts to free women and children held in immigrant detention centers in Southern Arizona, and to uplift the women through exceptional benefits and career advancement opportunities. The Florence Project has grown from an organization of a couple dozen employees at the beginning of Dasse’s tenure in 2013 to a staff of 130 people, approximately half of which are based in Tucson. Thousands of migrants and undocumented people receive the Florence Project’s free legal and social services each year.
“Lauren’s ability to navigate the Florence Project through the chaos and crisis in immigration enforcement, and to manage concerted efforts to assist people seeking safety and freedom in the United States, has improved the lives of countless immigrant women,” wrote Dasse’s nominator. Additionally, under Dasse’s guidance, the Florence Project became one of the first legal services providers in the nation to create a social work team. Lauren understood that staff dedicated to situations that arise outside the courtroom—inadequate medical care, mental health needs, emergency housing, for example—were critical to assist pregnant women, women facing homelessness, and women fleeing abuse.
Looking Back: Previous Award Recipients
The Laura Penny Community Impact Award was created in 2016 in recognition of Laura’s incredible accomplishments as the Women’s Foundation’s CEO from 2004-2014.
Past Laura Penny Community Impact Award Recipients
2019 – Negar Katirai
2018 – Anna Harper-Guerrero
2017 – Cheryl Horvath
2016 – Liz Rabago
Negar Katirai has dedicated her legal career to empowering women and girls by providing holistic legal and non-legal advocacy services to survivors of domestic violence. Under Negar’s leadership as Director of the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law’s Domestic Violence Law Clinic (“DVLC”), the DVLC expanded its services to address clients’ non-legal needs, including counseling, case work, and financial literacy training. Negar has also served as an Associate Clinical Professor at the College of Law, teaching Family Law and a Domestic Violence Seminar, as a Board Member of the Arizona Family and Conciliation Courts, and guest lectures on a variety of related topics in other classes. Negar firmly believes that if we all try to be part of the solution, women and girls will enjoy greater empowerment and equality.
2018 Award Recipient Anna Harper-Guerrero, has dedicated herself to serving her community since 2012 by working to end violence against women and girls. She has worked in a wide variety of positions focused on addressing sexual assault and domestic violence, including her role as Executive Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at Emerge! Center Against Domestic Abuse. Her leadership at Emerge led to the organization’s distinction by The Non Profit Times as one of the Top 50 Non Profit Employers in the United States. Her appointment to the Committee on the Impact of Domestic Violence and the Court through the Arizona Supreme Court has already influenced statewide criminal justice reforms and will result in future laws that create positive change for women and girls. For many years, she has taught social work courses as a faculty associate at Arizona State University’s School of Social Work, serving as a role model for women (and men, too) in the field. Anna has spent her life helping individual women and girls find safety and hope for the future.
2017 Award Recipient Cheryl Horvath came to Tucson from Urbana, Illinois in 2006 on a mission to make first responder careers available to all women who desired them. As one of only three women in the Northwest Fire District, Cheryl overcame many challenges as she moved up the ranks from Battalion Chief to Division Chief before she took the helm as Chief of the Mountain Vista Fire District in 2015. A decade ago, Cheryl helped launch the Girl Scouts’ Camp Fury program in Southern Arizona, and today, she is proud to say we have 9 additional camps throughout the U.S. and more planned for the future. The Camp Fury model, which now includes law enforcement and military, gives girls an opportunity to see that careers in public safety are ideal for women, and more importantly, women are needed in these roles in our communities. When Cheryl asks: Who are we? We respond: We are Fury!
When 2016 Award Recipient Liz Rabago began working at the YWCA of Southern Arizona ten years ago, everyone quickly learned that when women need something in this community, you can call on Liz to make it happen. Liz is a role model for other women struggling to overcome obstacles, an activist and advocate for social change and, through the innovative programming she has developed, she has improved the emotional and economic well-being of countless women and their families in our community.