Selected for their outstanding commitment to women’s empowerment, racial justice and social change, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore honored Delores Holmes, Sunny Fischer and Blair Brettschneider before a packed audience of over 400 on October 15 at the eighth annual YWomen Leadership Awards in Evanston.

The theme of the night, ‘Bending the Arc,’ came from a line often attributed to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.: “The moral arc of the universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“A few years ago,” said Karen Singer, President/CEO of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore, “Valerie Jarrett, senior adviser to President Obama, added a corollary to that line, saying: ‘That arc bends faster when it is pushed.’ As a social justice organization, the YWCA is continually working – pushing – to make that arc bend faster, especially when it comes to ending violence against women and children, which is one of the most pervasive and pressing social justice issues we tackle.

“And we are here to tonight to honor and celebrate three women who have also made “bending the arc toward justice” their life’s work,” said Karen Singer, President/CEO of the YWCA Evanston/North Shore. “They are tenacious leaders and tireless activists who are empowering women and girls, and making our communities more equitable and just for all.”

As co-founder of The Chicago Foundation for Women, YWomen Honoree Sunny Fischer has worked tirelessly to advocate for women and families across the country and end violence against women. Honoree Delores Holmes, Alderman of Evanston’s 5th Ward and former Director of Family Focus, has addressed education, economic, and housing disparities, making Evanston a stronger, healthier, and more inclusive community for all its citizens. Blair Brettschneider, recipient of the Lorraine H. Morton Woman of Promise Award, is Founder and Executive Director of GirlForward, which assists young female refugees in the transition to a new culture, supports their academic success, and encourages them to set goals for themselves and their families.

“We created these awards to support, promote and celebrate women’s leadership and the impact women have in our community,” concluded Singer, “and we are thrilled that so many come out to join us every year because transforming lives and making the world a better place is never a singular pursuit. It is a community endeavor. These women serve as inspiration to all of us to continue pushing that moral arc towards justice.”

Presented by BMO Harris Bank and chaired by Susan Hope Engel, the benefit grossed nearly $150,000 to support YWCA programs that empower women, including financial literacy classes and domestic violence services, which are provided free of charge to the community. A link to the YWomen film about the honorees by filmmaker Susan Hope Engel will be available at


About the YWCA Evanston/North Shore:

Dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women, the YWCA Evanston/North Shore focuses on ending violence against women and children; nurturing women’s economic empowerment and leadership; fostering racial, gender and economic equity; and empowerment through aquatics. We operate the only comprehensive residential domestic violence services program in the northeastern Chicago metropolitan area. Learn more at: