Who Are Austin’s Outstanding Women Changemakers?

Ten Thousand Villages Announces Winners of 2012 International Women’s Day Awards

AUSTIN, TX — Despite heavy rain and SXSW, Ten Thousand Villages (1317 S. Congress), Austin’s only 100-percent fair trade store, was filled to capacity for its 4th Annual International Women’s Day Awards, which recognize outstanding women changemakers in three categories: Humanitarian, Environment, and Animal Welfare. The 2012 Winners are:

  • HUMANITARIAN: Diana Claitor, Cofounder and Director of Texas Jail Project
  • ENVIRONMENT: Brandi Clark Burton, Founder of Austin EcoNetwork, Austin CarShare, and Citizen Gardener
  • ANIMAL WELFARE: Abigail Smith, Chief Animal Services Officer, City of Austin

“Humanitarianism, respecting the environment and animals are all integral to our mission as a nonprofit fair trade organization,” said Ten Thousand Villages Store Manager Kitty Bird. “Women in particular benefit from fair trade because it gives them opportunities to handcraft goods and earn sustainable living wages to support their families. So International Women’s Day is the perfect time to recognize and honor local women who are making significant social impacts in our community and around the world,” she said.

The Awards Ceremony was hosted by Austin Eavesdropper Tolly Moseley, and Finalists and Winners were selected by a panel of judges who work in the nonprofit sector: Meg Goodman Erskine, Cofounder and Executive Director of Multicultural Refugee CoalitionCarol Thomas, Director of Development at Caritas of Austin; and Monica WilliamsGivingCity Founding Editor and Austin Community Foundation Communications Manager.

“The judges had a tough job selecting finalists because we received so many nominations of ‘ordinary’ women doing extraordinary things,” said Bird. “After a lot of soul-searching, the judges agreed that more people need to know about Diana Claitor’s humanitarian accomplishments and what’s happening to pregnant women in Texas prisons,” she said.

Claitor was the force behind getting Texas legislature to pass HB 3653, which restricts the practice of shackling incarcerated pregnant women during labor and delivery. She continues fighting for a complete ban on such barbaric practices, which still happen in prisons in Texas as well as other states.

Abigail Smith stood out in the Animal Welfare category because in just one year with the largest municipal animal shelter she has led Austin to become the first major urban city in Texas to officially reach No-Kill status. Smith reorganized and led 90 staff members into a new way of thinking about how they treat more than 20,000 animals that enter Austin Animal Center each year, and achieved what no other major Texas city has done: a 91-percent live animal outcome rate for 2011.

Judges chose Brandi Clark Burton as the Environment winner because she is Austin’s most influential force in building and empowering the sustainability community. Through Austin EcoNetwork, Earth Day festivals, and events such as It’s My Park! Day, Austin Moving Forward, and the Green Festival, she has been leading and raising awareness of socially and environmentally responsible practices for residents and businesses since 1996. The Austin Chronicle dubbed Clark Burton “a human switchboard for all things sustainable.”

For more information about Ten Thousand Villages’ 2012 International Women’s Day Awards, including bios of all Awards Finalists, go to bit.ly/xfkxRy (pdf). Photos of the event are available for download and reproduction at Flickr (bit.ly/yOTv4d) and Facebook (http://on.fb.me/wZ6uhr).

— By Barbara-Anne Mansfield