The YWCA Evanston/North Shore has announced four recipients of the 2010 YWomen Leadership Awards: Bernice Weissbourd, Celeste Watkins, Courtney Wright and the Evanston Women’s History Project. The awards, which honor local women for their outstanding commitment to women’s empowerment, racial justice and social change, will be presented at the third annual YWomen Leadership Awards benefit, sponsored by Harris Bank on Oct. 14 at the Hilton Orrington Hotel.

Bernice Weissbourd, former executive director of Family Focus Evanston, was a primary founder of the family support movement that helped bring national attention to the needs of low-income, at-risk families. Celeste Watkins, Ph.D., associate professor of African-American Studies and Sociology at Northwestern University, is an author and activist widely credited for her research into the social and economic consequences of HIV/AIDS on Chicago-area women, with particular emphasis on African-American women. Courtney Wright, recipient of the Lorraine H. Morton Young Woman of Promise award, is a 2003 graduate of Evanston Township High School. She has spent the past two years in Malawi as a Peace Corps volunteer, working to develop economic and personal empowerment programs for women and girls.

In addition to the three individual nominees, the Evanston Women’s History Project will be honored for their collaborative community effort to document and celebrate women and women’s organizations that have made significant contributions to Evanston history. 

 “We are all shaped by the example, leadership and encouragement of those around us,” said Karen Singer, executive director of the YWCA, “and I believe the YWomen Leadership Awards play an important role both in recognizing the accomplishments and leadership of our honorees and in inspiring those who hear their stories. I think this event has grown tremendously in just three years because our community also feels it is valuable to recognize the commitment that women in our own backyards are making to women’s empowerment, racial justice and social change around the world.”

Proceeds will support YWCA programs that empower women, including financial literacy, domestic violence services and women’s leadership. For tickets, contact the YWCA at 847-864-8445 or visit