The honorees are selected for embodying the mission of YWCA: eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

About the Dorothy Willey Award:
YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix’s most prestigious award is named for its first recipient, Dorothy Willey. Dorothy Willey was a member of the YWCA since 1933 in Texas, to Clevland, and landed in Phoenix. As a young woman, she was president of the YWCA’s Girl’s Business Club. She served on numerous YWCA committees, on the Board of Directors, and as President of the Board of the Cleveland YWCA. She served on the YWCA World Service Council, the fundraising arm for the national YWCA. We present the Dorothy Willey Award to the woman who most closely exemplifies her spirit of service and dedication to YWCA.

Maria is an unwavering advocate and dedicated supporter of YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix. Serving two consecutive three-year terms on our board, she dedicated two full years as the Board Chair and concluded her service as the Advocacy Committee Chair. Maria played a pivotal role in the comprehensive update of our bylaws and articles of incorporation. These revised documents now serve as the foundation for fostering inclusion and equity in our organizational governance. Maria’s commitment extends beyond administrative contributions; she has a deep passion for mentoring young lawyers, with a particular focus on empowering young women in the legal profession. Recognizing the unique challenges they face, Maria initiated a Lean In circle where members collaboratively address and tackle issues pertinent to women lawyers. Her overarching mission is to empower individuals to discover their strengths and to tirelessly advocate for justice and equality for all.

 In her role as the Bilingual Youth Enrollment Manager at NPFY, Nina has shown a commitment to empowering BIPOC youth and families. She’s led initiatives to support Latinx families and to reframe Latinx family traditions towards the preservation of culture and resilience for bicultural children and families. Outside of NPFY, she has actively participated in the creation of a teen pre-court youth diversion program with Black Lives Matter Phoenix Metro, aiming to intervene in the vicious cycle of incarceration that BIPOC youth living in poverty often find themselves in. Nina has actively participated in multiple social justice calls-to-action and has sat in meetings with several local social justice organizations since 2010; this is the first where she is a leader in the creation of an initiative that could transform the lives of many young people impacted by the juvenile justice system.

As the first Black female at Kroger to be named district manager in 2007 for the Columbus, Ohio, division; the first Black woman to be named retail division VP; and the first Black woman ever to be named a division head as the president of Fry’s (her current position), Monica Garnes has been empowering women and expanding DE&I opportunities throughout her career. She leads by example, with grace, humility, kindness, and accountability – traits that everyone can look up to. Her life is full of overcoming adversity and uplifting others in the arenas of race and gender equality, which have been demonstrated by some of her recent accomplishments and impactful work, including receiving the NAACP Community Service recognition for Fry’s in 2021, which supports NAACP’s mission of advocating for economic empowerment, employment opportunities, affordable housing, criminal justice, and civic engagement.

A native of Sinaloa, Mexico, Carolina has devoted her career to combating racism and championing women’s empowerment. She has especially felt called to create greater equity and justice for immigrants. Before DACA existed, Carolina spent a great deal of her time addressing the inequity that existed for undocumented students seeking a college degree. She was a board member for ScholarshipsA-Z, a non-profit focused on identifying scholarships that support college attendance for undocumented students in Arizona. She then spent a large part of her career dedicated to creating pathways for first-generation and students of color to attend college. She worked at the University of Arizona and Arizona State University to help low-income students, so often students of color, know that college was within their reach. In her current role, she is battling for the elimination of racism in policy through civic engagement. Carolina has helped Latinos vote in record numbers.

As a first-generation college student, Vanessa approaches her work and commitment to the community from the lens of, “How can we support those looking to impact the socioeconomic trajectory of their families/community?” It’s not just access to resources, she also recognizes and understands how these students and families may deal with imposter syndrome and what we are doing to guide and mentor them. Serving as the Deputy Vice President for Outreach at ASU, Vanessa’s portfolio focuses on developing and activating strategic partnerships to advance the educational attainment and economic trajectory of Arizona students and families by providing access to resources and support focused on equitable education attainment. She led the launch of WeGrad Digital in 2022. WeGrad is a family education and engagement program designed to elevate the academic success of multicultural students in underserved communities by engaging the entire family in the education pathway of their children. 

Dr. Westenberg has been a decades-long advocate for equity for both women and marginalized communities. She currently serves as the VP for Political Action of the Maricopa County Branch of the NAACP, she is a distinguished leader in the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Phoenix Chapter–currently co-charing the Advocate for Social Justice committee, as well as the chair for the annual HBCU College Fair (an event she has organized for 21 years). She is a member of the Phoenix chapter of The Links (an international, nonprofit organization and one of the nation’s oldest and largest volunteer service organizations committed to enriching, sustaining, and ensuring the culture and economic survival of African Americans and other people of African ancestry). She is a Life Member of the National Council of Negro Women. She has organized countless events over the years from Hip-Hop to Vote summits to MLK Youth Celebrations. She is a powerful voice for advocacy in political chambers, college campuses, protest groups, boardrooms, and private meetings.

In honor of 30 years of women, we are excited to announce our event tri-chairs for this year’s Tribute to Leadership Awards!

Dr. Kenja Hassan, Arizona State University, Asst Vice President, Government & Community Engagement
Sarah Krahenbuhl, Phoenix Suns/Phoenix Mercury Foundation, Vice President, Social Responsibility & Executive Director
Jennifer Sanchez, Intel Corporation, Arizona Community Affairs Manager

Dr. Kenja Hassan, Sarah Krahenbuhl, and Jennifer Sanchez bring years of experience, advocacy, and grace to YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix as supporters and volunteers. We are thrilled to have them at the helm of this event.

Huge thank you to our review committee for your time and efforts to help us select the 2024 Tribute to Leadership Honorees!

Oana Constantinescu, 2023 Honoree
Charissa Sundust, 2022 Honoree
Annette Zaccari, 1997 Honoree

Puerto Vallarta Paradise Drawing

Empowerment Pearl Charm Bracelet

In 2024 our partners will receive various marketing, branding & recognition opportunities, tickets to 30th Tribute to Leadership Awards, and other creative opportunities to partner with us all March long!

Sponsorship opportunities can be secured by paying online or requesting an invoice HERE

To learn more about partnership opportunities and benefits contact Genevieve, YWCA Advancement Director, at genevieve@ywcaaz.org or call 602.320.7283.

We look forward to exploring possible ways to partner to support our community. Thank you for all that you do!

About the Awards

eligibility requirements

judging criteria

2023 Tribute to Leadership Nominees

Thank you to our 2023 Presenting Sponsors

THANK YOU for attending, volunteering, and otherwise supporting our 28th annual Tribute to Leadership Awards. We shared drinks, laughs, tears, and meaningful connections in celebration of four trailblazing honorees.

Select the buttons below to see all the fun we had.

If you are a Tribute to Leadership Legacy Honoree, we want to hear from you! Please complete this short questionnaire.

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