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YWCA recognizes Yvonne Lopez-Morton for her commitment to human rights, diversity and justice

Yvonne Lopez-Morton, associate editor of The Fig Tree, sees herself as one voice in many contributing to the health of the community working for racial and social justice.

Yvonne Lopez-Morton
Yvonne Lopez-Morton

She received the Carl Maxey Racial Justice Award at the 2010 Women of Achievement Luncheon in October, recognizing her community service, leadership in promoting diversity and dedication to the YWCA’s mission of “eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

The YWCA said she “embodies a multicultural heritage that motivates her commitment to human rights, volunteerism, justice, faith and peace.”

Appointed chair of the Washington State Human Rights Commission by Governor Christine Gregoire in 2007, Yvonne oversees enforcement of state laws against discrimination—investigating civil rights complaints, monitoring emerging issues and providing educational opportunities.  She previously was chair of the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Locally, she is on the Spokane County Civil Service Commission and boards of the Women Helping Women Fund and Leadership Spokane.

In her role as associate editor of The Fig Tree, she supports diversity through stories about individuals and initiatives in the faith and nonprofit communities that promote unity and encourage action for the common good.

Yvonne also lends her voice on the Washington State University Spokane’s President’s Advisory Board and the new Leadership Advisory Committee, which honors future women leaders.

Other commitments include the Spokane Hispanic Business Professional Association and the Spokane Minority Advisory and Resource Team.

In partnership with community leaders, Yvonne encourages dialogue that identifies challenges, needs and expectations for the Hispanic community, as well as all communities of color, people with disabilities, women, seniors, gays, faith communities and those in poverty. She supports initiatives that bring the community together to celebrate diverse cultures.

“I can easily be discouraged by the things happening in the world,” Yvonne commented, “but I am encouraged every day by working with commissions, community organizations, The Fig Tree and individuals who care and who are addressing racism and poverty that keep people from succeeding.

“We’re not alone,” she said, reinforcing the idea that she is “one of many voices.”

At this point in her career, having used her journalism degree in various positions including the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and school district, she said she finds The Fig Tree a fit for her passion both as a communicator and as an advocate for social justice.

“My work at The Fig Tree is a way to spread the word about what people are doing to address racism and poverty,” she said.

With the Commission on Hispanic Affairs, she helps the legislators, organizations and businesses realize how diverse the state is and how important the role of the migrant community is.

“The state needs to understand how immigrants’ values coincide with the rest of society,” said Yvonne, whose family in New Mexico is Hispanic and French.

On the Human Rights Commission, she addresses policy, communicating about the agency’s work and jurisdiction, people’s needs, the state’s demographics and the impact of discrimination in the workplace and housing.

“At the state level, I have had access to people who make decisions and can change policies,” she said.   She helped advocate for legislation passed in 2003, to allow undocumented students to pay in-state tuition for higher education.

“These young people have done everything right and want to continue their education so they can contribute in positive ways to their communities,” she said.

At the local level, she said she has also promoted opportunities for minority communities to be at the table and be among the decision makers.  As president of the Hispanic Business and Professional Association, she helped spread how Hispanics contribute to the business community and provide opportunities to celebrate Hispanic culture.

“Through The Fig Tree, I have also learned about the different faith communities,” said Yvonne, who is active at St. Ann’s parish.  “I understand how much work faith communities in the region are doing.

“It’s about lifelong learning.  With every story, interview and issue of The Fig Tree, I learn something new about the many ways people are contributing to human rights,” she said.  “It reminds me that many voices are contributing to the health of the community, and I’m just one.”

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