Tribute Advocacy Honoree – Paula Cullison


A native New Yorker and seasoned professional with over 30 years of experience in marketing, management, public relations, social work, and education, Paula Cullison has spent over 50 years volunteering to uplift women and children. Her advocacy efforts have elevated countless women. 

A daughter of immigrants from Italy, Paula was taught that education and hard work are the keys to success…. AND that … in America anything is possible. .  Paula and her siblings all graduated from college. 

As President of Women in Management for a Fortune 500 company in Phoenix, she created and facilitated the 1985 Year for All Arizona Women project with support from Gov Bruce Babbitt.The year-long celebration consisted or over 100 events, which involved over 300 volunteers statewide and attracted over 10,000 attendees. 

Paula was appointed to the Phoenix Women’s Commission by Mayor Terry Goddard for a three-year term. Their focus was on affordable day care for working women and the creation of an International Women’s Day event. As a member of the PWC and as President of the United Nations Association of Phoenix, she was invited to present at the International Women’s Decade Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. 

In 1989, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Paula turned her misfortune into advocacy for national funding for breast cancer as well as taking the lead role in AZ by being part of the national grass-roots movement which resulted in the National Breast Cancer Coalition. Lobbying on Capitol Hill, she and her cohorts enabled the NBCC to secure millions of dollars in research funding from the Dept of Defense. 

In 2002 with husband Tim, Paula created the Arizona Women’s Partnership, an all-volunteer philanthropic non-profit, which awards grants to small charities in AZ that assist underserved women and children, domestic violence, child abuse, ESL, youth leadership, ESL. adult literacy, homelessness, hunger, girls who have been sex trafficked, refugee women and families. To date, over $400,000 has been awarded to over 55 charities in AZ, thus impacting the lives of over 100,000. 

Paula has created over 45 photography exhibits that display her photographs from her International travel. Paula is now working on 2020 – In Celebration of Women, a juried art exhibit of female artists with women and girls as the theme to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment. 

Paula’s advice to Young women: You can realize your dreams and goals through hard work and determination. Always be willing to help others in their journey. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with positive thinking people who will support you.

Paula’s life has been mirrored in the YWCA mission of empowerment of women, peace and social justice for all.

The YWCA is honored to present the 2019 Advocacy Award to Paula Cullison