Black Women’s Task Force Conference



    UPDATED SPEAKERS (from flyer above):

    Joan Harrigan-Farrelly, Deputy Director of the Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor, and former First Lady of the Virgin Islands, will be the luncheon speaker during the Black Women’s Task Force Conference scheduled for September 4 this year at the Westin La Paloma, 3800 E. Sunrise Drive, Tucson.

    Joan Harrigan-Ferrally
    Joan Harrigan-Farrelly

    Harrigan-Farrelly will address current issues to include the gender pay gap and minimum wage as they apply to women. The conference opening speaker will be Quiana Dickenson, an expert in communications. She is based in Phoenix, and an adjunct professor of public administration and communication for Northern Arizona University. Dickenson will address the conference theme, “What A Difference A Decade Makes.”

    Quiana Dickerson
    Quiana Dickerson

    Workshops feature bold topics including the role of media in shaping opinion, moving ahead with purpose, exploring pitfalls and advantages of using social media, dispelling stereotypes characterizing the image of African American women in the workplace. Nearing the close of the event, participants will be offered an opportunity to join a joyful line dance, or watch a fascinating and controversial documentary film, “Dark Girls”, followed by a discussion of the film’s exploration of prejudices toward dark-skinned women around the world.

    Info on their FB page:

    Carolyn’s note: As a blogger for, I was asked to be on the Image of Women in media panel at 10:30 a.m. in Finger Rock 2-3. Co panelists are Alma Gallardo of AZ Bilingual Magazine and TV actress Veronica Slater.

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    Carolyn Classen
    Carolyn Sugiyama Classen, a life long Democrat, was born & raised in the State of Hawaii, was a Legislative Aide for U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye on Capitol Hill, and practiced law for a while. In Tucson she worked as a tribal staff attorney for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe and later was the Interim Executive Director of the now defunct Domestic Violence Commission. In 2008 she became a “My Tucson” guest columnist for the Tucson Citizen newspaper, then continued blogging for for over four and a half years. Her blogsite was entitled “Carolyn’s Community” about community events and some political news, until Gannett Publishing shut down the site on January 31, 2014. She started with Blog for Arizona on Feb. 11, 2014. Part time she has been sitting as a Hearing Officer in Pima County Consolidated Justice Courts Small Claims Division since April, 2005. She is married to University of Arizona Distinguished Professor Albrecht Classen, a native of Germany. They have one son, who lives in Seattle, WA with his wife and daughter. She is also the Editor of the Southern Arizona Japanese Cultural Coalition website, (since Jan. 2013).


    1. Attended half day of Black Women’s Task Force conference at Westin La Paloma. Welcome by Annie Skyes, Pres. and Alison Hughes, Conf. Chair. They mentioned that there have been about 25 plus of these conferences for this group, which started 38 years ago with the assistance of the Pima County/Tucson Women’s Commission. Then heartfelt poem recited by author Pepper Moore from St. Louis, MO (“Strength in Numbers”), followed by SURPRISE appearance by David Fitzsimmons, AZ Daily Star cartoonist who joked & then sketched cartoons of Pepper and another woman Yolanda, a cancer survivor.

      Evan Wesley, Mayor Rothschild’s aide read his proclamation, followed by congratulations from Congressmembers Raul Grijalva and Martha McSally, CD 3 and CD 2. Then there was an inspiriting talk by communication specialist/consultant Quiana Dickerson who said that women of color do not need to “ask permission” to do anything now in 2015, told the audience to be courageous, tell your story and listen to others, that someday there will be no need for BWTF.

      Then attended first panel by Debi Embry of the Tucson Urban League, who also said that black women should be farther along than they are in 2015, that the audience needed to “step out of their game and be bold”, asked 1/2 room to stand up & tell the others what their next goal was, and barriers to that goal. Handouts were about Visioning for Success, and Personal Political Leadership plans.

      Later I was a presenter on a Women & media panel with TV actress Veronica Slater (from Atlanta, GA) and Alma Gallardo (Mexican immigrant), publisher/editor of Arizona Bilingual magazine, distributed in Southern AZ and Sonora, Mexico. We all spoke a bit about our past careers in the media, then questions from the audience were about role models, what to say to young women, specific questions about Arizona Bilingual and Blog for Arizona. Veronica asked the group “What does it mean to be a woman?” esp. w/ negative sexual images in TV and the movies.

      Finally the luncheon speaker was Joan Harrigan-Farrelly, former 1st Lady of the Virgin Islands when her husband (not deceased) was Governor. She is the Deputy Director of the Women’s Bureau in D.C. She spoke of the progress made in a decade, the 95th anniversary of the Women’s Bureau, but that black women do not earn the same as white men. More is needed for paid leave, beyond the FMLA (3 months unpaid leave), and more help for DV victims with issues involving earning power & employment. She said to “sow the seeds for a future harvest”.


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