F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week: True Poetess (April 23 – April 29)

I am fierce because I aim to empower women by embracing the natural characteristics of ivy and creating a global mentoring program for teenage girls that will allow them to travel the world before attending college.

This week’s F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week hails from Queens, NY and is a mother, budget manager,  poet, author, and  founder of The Climbing Ivy Project, Inc. Known solely as True, she is the only female member of the highly acclaimed and much respected poetry ensemble El Grito de Poetas, a collective of diverse Latinos dedicated to educating though creative forms of art.

True’s passion for the spoken word and for expressing her truths through poetry exude an honesty, rawness, resilience, and determination that make her stand out from the rest. Her upcoming book slated for release June 21st, holds the same name as her non-profit organization, Climbing Ivy.

The Climbing Ivy Project, Inc. which is also launching June 21, 2014 has been created as a celebration and heralding of the women who never wanted to be flowers. Women who pride themselves on being noticed for what they have achieved instead of what they were told to aspire to. Women who preferred to stand firm on their roots, claw their way out of the shade, and climb to the top instead of being compliant and docile objects.

All too often women are bombarded with misconceived standards of womanhood and femininity, notions rooted in an infertile ground that does not provide them with a healthy foundation to grow into the strongest, happiest, most fulfilling versions of themselves. These messages include the language of “not…enough;” not beautiful enough, not intelligent enough, not talented enough, not “man” enough to achieve the lofty dreams imagined in a male dominated world. We are often instructed to be “quiet” and “pretty,” to not make spectacles of ourselves. Told to be ladies. Admonished to be soft and beautiful like roses, growing gently in the sunlight.

True believes that women have the capability to endure and overcome obstacles and thrive vibrantly even in the harshest of conditions.  The Climbing Ivy Project’s goal is to connect women around the world through an on-going discourse expressed through their respective fields and art forms, fostering self-respect and the belief that their power is truly limitless.

Through The Climbing Ivy Project, True is providing  women with tools to transcend barriers & societal constructs. She is cultivating a  support network of interconnected women that will serve  as a professional and mentoring enclave.

For more info on The Climbing Ivy Project visit their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/ClimbingIvyProject

“As women, we need to accept that we can be fierce, cunning, and predatory” – Unknown

F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week: Maria Aponte (April 16 – April 22)

Maria Aponte

Maria Aponte

This week’s F.I.E.R.C.E Woman is someone who I have the utmost love and respect for. She is a woman who embodies everything that a F.I.E.R.C.E Woman is. She inspires, empowers, recognizes, and cultivates evolution. Maria Aponte is one of those people who by just being in her presence inspires you to believe that you are capable of doing anything. She is an educator, activist, author, performer, playwright, curator, producer, you name it she’s done it.

Born and raised in New York City’s East Harlem, (El Barrio) Maria has worked extensively in Latino Theatre. She has performed in various theatre productions; and videos that dealt with racial discrimination, women’s rights in theatre and film. Maria’s work as an artist and teacher is focused on community art related projects and the empowerment of women through positive affirmation of self esteem and education.

Her book Transitions of a Nuyorican Cinderella which was published in 2012 won 2nd place for Best Poetry in English at the 2013 International Latino Book Awards (an award that my book Letters to My Daughter is up for this year). Maria is everything that I aspire to be. She has recently launched Latina 50 Plus, a program which pays tribute to Latinas over fifty years of age who were pioneers. Women who shaped their careers in a time when Latina women were venturing onto pathways where very few Latinas were seen or accepted. This program acknowledges the trailblazers who were among the first in their profession. By creating this venue which expresses public appreciation for Latina women over fifty, Maria is giving these women the opportunity to tell their personal narratives so that they can provide a historical perspective on what it was like to have lived in a time when Latina feminism was not the norm or tolerated.

By honoring these Latina Pioneers, Maria believes that we are honoring the history of women of a certain generation who laid down the stepping stones of change for future generations of Latinas. These are the women who mentored and inspired younger women (like me) to pursue their own dreams and realize their own goals.

Personally, for me there are many Latina 50 Plus women who have inspired and continue to inspire me. What Maria is doing with Latinas 50 Plus is what I am doing with the I am F.I.E.R.C.E initiative for younger women. Coincidentally (or not) both of these initiatives launched around the same time. Maria, thank you for laying the foundation for Latinas like myself. It is because of you and women like you that I can dream and believe that those dreams are not only worth pursuing but also worth making come true. You are this week’s F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week.

For more info on Maria or the work that she is doing with Latina 50 Plus visit her personal website at:

http://www.mariaaponte.com or http://www.latina50plus.com

F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week: Catherine Brignoni (April 9 – April 15)

Catherine Brignoni

Catherine Brignoni

This week’s F.I.E.R.C.E Woman of the Week is Catherine Brignoni. Catherine is a single mother of a beautiful 8 yr. old girl. A self-described independent woman she is a native of Puerto Rico and was raised in the South Bronx. She is a self-proclaimed woman of God and is a true believer that everything will work out for the best in God’s timing.

Catherine has worked in different fields with each leaving her feeling empty and unfulfilled. Her ambition and entrepreneurial spirit led her to take a chance on herself and she is now an independent Real Estate agent.  Catherine says “I’m super excited with the career path that I’ve chosen. It provides me with the flexibility of being my own boss and it allows me to take part in my daughter’s school life.”

Catherine’s willingness to take risks and go-getter attitude is what being a F.I.E.R.C.E woman is all about. Being F.I.E.R.C.E is about discovering the power within yourself and using that power to elevate yourself and others.

Catherine, thank you for being an exemplary example of a F.I.E.R.C.E woman.